The short answer to the question on how long does it take for cheese to mold is, it depends. You have to consider the cheese type and the mold that is used to grow it.
Luckily, you’ll read more about these below!
Mold And Cheese
Molds can grow on your food, especially if the latter is rich in moisture. Mold on food spreads fast and can ruin an entire fruit basket within days.
We know the danger of mold on food, but what about cheese? Cheese is formed through fermentation, so it is familiar with bacterial growth.
The making of blue cheese even encourages mold growth, so is mold on cheese harmful? Also, how long does it take for the cheese to have mold growth?
What are the characteristics of mold on cheese?
First, we’ll deal with the characteristics of mold on certain cheese types. There are three categories under this.
The first one is soft-ripened cheese. These have a chalky texture, but they start firm.
They become chalky because of how they are aged. Soft ripened cheeses are aged from exterior to interior.
Naturally, they are aged using a mold. The mold used is P. camemberti; it has a velvety texture which translates to the characteristics of this type of cheese.
An example of a soft-ripened cheese is Brie.
The second type is washed-rind cheese. They are aged inwards, as opposed to soft-ripened cheeses.
Moreover, they’re treated periodically with saltwater brine solution or mold-bearing agents. This treatment helps Brevibacterium linens to grow on its surface.
After inviting the mold on the cheese, it becomes firm and flavorful with distinctive flavors. An example of soft-washed-rind cheese is Limburger.
The third type is blue cheese. To make blue cheese, you must inject Penicillium glaucum or Penicillium roqueforti on loosely-pressed curds.
You can enhance your blue cheese further by putting a ripening curd on a skewer and putting it in a damp environment. Putting it in a wet environment encourages mold spores to grow on its surface.
Then, as the cheese ages, mold grows within it, giving it distinct blue veins. Its blue veins are what gave it its name, as well as its flavors.
However, blue cheese is not always blue. They can be pale green or dark blue, too.
They may also have crusty white or brown molds. Blue cheeses may be soft or firm.
An example of blue cheese is a Gorgonzola.
How long does it take before mold grows on cheese?
It depends. Contrary to how long mold grows on home surfaces, cheese molds differently.
It’s different for soft, semi-soft, and firm cheeses. Mold formation takes about two to three weeks for Monterey Jack, Feta, Mozzarella, and other semi-soft cheeses.
On the other hand, Cheddar, Swiss, Colby, and different firm cheeses take five weeks. Hard cheeses take the longest.
For example, Parmesan takes ten months to mold.
How does mold contribute to the manufacturing of cheese?
Put simply, mold makes the cheese flavorful. It transforms the fat of the milk, thickening it and releasing enzymes as they age.
Later on, the enzymes break the protein and fat, creating lively flavors and supple textures.
There are two kinds of mold used in cheeses, which are internally-ripened and externally-ripened varieties. If you recall the types of cheese above, you’ll find these terms familiar.
Internal-ripened cheeses include blue cheese and washed-rind cheese. The microbes on these types of cheese require oxygen to grow.
Piercing them is necessary to allow internal mold growth.
Externally-ripened ones do not require piercing. The microbes are left to form on the outside to create a white bloomy rind.
Then, it is patted down, forming a smooth and snowy coating. The mold growth is from the outside to the inside, creating the distinct taste of externally-ripened cheeses.
These types of cheeses thrive in a damp environment that is full of oxygen. Hence, they are not stored in plastic.
Can you eat moldy cheese?
If mold is natural in cheeses, is it always safe to eat cheese with mold? The short answer is no.
The mold that is formed outside of the manufacturing process is not safe to eat. To be clear, mold growth on cheese wedges is the only thing we discourage.
If you have whole wheels of blue or white molds, then it is okay for them to maintain a continued microbial activity. As long as they stay uncut, they can keep reproducing and breaking down proteins and fats.
However, cut wedges would give way to unwanted mold. These are often white or gray and are not safe to eat.
To prevent unwanted mold growth, store your cheese appropriately. Please inform yourself about their shelf lives and plan to eat them accordingly.
Bloomy rinds and aged types take up to two weeks. Meanwhile, fresh styles only take a maximum of one week.
We hope this article about how long does it take for cheese to mold has helped inform you about the wanted and unwanted mold growth on cheeses. Cheese is an essential ingredient for most people, so learning about these things may save you from accidentally ingesting mold-contaminated food.