The scourge of many a cheese lover is the dreaded mold that can appear on the surface of this popular dairy food. Sometimes, just when you fancy a cheesy snack and take out the pack from the refrigerator, you find the cheese is covered with disgusting mold growth. So, what causes this problem, and how can it be avoided?

There are a number of different kinds of mold that can grow on cheese. The odd thing is that there are some types of cheese that are produced in such a way that the mold Penicillium is deliberately introduced into the cheese. These cheeses, commonly called blue cheeses, include cheese types like Stilton, Roquefort, and Gorgonzola. The mold is prized in all of these cheeses because it offers a particular flavor.

Ordinary cheese, on the other hand, can attract a different type of mold that is completely unwelcome. This undesirable mold not only ruins the flavor of the cheese, but it can also give you an upset stomach if you eat it.

To minimize the risk of mold infesting cheese, you should observe certain precautions. Cheese should always be kept in a refrigerator, and it should preferably be stored tightly wrapped, not exposed to the air. When removing cheese from the refrigerator to eat, you should keep to an absolute minimum the length of time the cheese is out. As soon as you have finished serving the amount of cheese required, you should repack the remaining cheese and return it to the refrigerator. You should also aim to consume any pack of cheese within a few weeks of first opening it.

When serving cheese you should keep an eye out for the beginnings of mold. Advanced mold growth is easy to spot, but the early signs, such as small lumpy deposits and faint marks, can easily be overlooked if you fail to examine the cheese carefully.

If you find mold on your cheese, it may be possible to salvage some of it by cutting off the part with mold on it. This works quite well with hard cheeses, but is best avoided with soft cheeses, where the mold may have already begun to work its way into the inside of the cheese, even though it cannot be seen. For this reason, sadly, it is advisable to simply throw away soft cheese with mold growing on it.