Can cheese be used past the expiration date?

by Missi R.
(Moose Pass, AK)

I often have cheeses that I would like to use past the expiration date. It isn't moldy, and looks and smells fine. Is it safe to use?

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Jul 25, 2011
Has Your Cheese Passed to the Great Beyond?
by: Gourmet Cheese Detective

Great question! Sight, smell, then taste - are your best guidelines as to when to know if a
cheese has passed beyond the point of no return.

So, if the expiration date printed on the cheese packaging has come and gone ...

First - sight. Cheeses which always show mold, both before and after their "Package Expiration Date" will be bloomy rind cheeses like Brie and Camembert, which have a velvety white
covering on the rind. This is fine and expected. And the rind is edible. Blue cheeses of course have beneficial mold throughout which is the blue-green veining. This is expected. Hard cheeses will develop some mold over time (especially if not properly wrapped and stored), but the cheese is salvageable. Simply cut off the moldy part plus an extra 1/8 inch and continue to use the cheese. Fresh cheeses and washed rind cheeses are a different story. If you see slimy mold, or pinkish, reddish ugly patches on your fresh cheeses (like Mozzarella) or on your double or triple creme cheeses, just throw them out. They are done. Similarly with Soft and Washed-Rind cheeses like Livarot, if the rind looks questionable, slimy, weepy, and the smell is really awful, I'd recommend throwing it out.

Second, take a good whiff. How does the cheese smell? OK? Or does it have what is called an ammoniated smell? If so,throw it out. Keep in mind that strongly flavored cheeses will always have a strong smell, and as they age/ripen and live in your frig, their aroma will intensify, but that does not mean the cheese has gone bad. So long as you don't gag from an ammonia aroma, the cheese is probably ok. Proceed to Step 3.

Third, if the appearance and the smell are ok, but you are still not sure, take a small bite. Cheese continues to ripen after you purchase it. Its taste will therefore change while it lives in
your frig and its texture will change as well. Goat cheese, for example, may be quite soft when purchased, but wrapped and stored too long, the texture will become much firmer and the taste will become stronger. So long as you still like the taste, the cheese is fine. Just be aware that the flavor will intensify on most cheeses over time.

Bottom line, be sure to wrap your cheeses properly and store them properly. Cheese is a living, breathing organism. See the page on this website called Storing Cheese for pointers.

Thanks for your question Missi! Can you get good gourmet cheeses up in Alaska?

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