How Does Mold Grow on Cheese?

Mold in blue cheese gives it flavor.
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What is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungi that grow on various surfaces, including many foods like cheese. There are over 100,000 types of molds in the world, and they occur in environments and foods and even animals regularly. Some molds are considered harmless, while others can be deadly or cause major health problems to humans and animals.

Cheese is produced after milk is separated and processed into a substance called curd. Curd is then processed and aged in different ways to give cheese its flavor and texture. Many forms of cheese also contain forms of mold which are beneficial to our health. Blue cheeses and Roquefort cheeses are prime examples.

How does Mold Grow on Cheese?

Mold grows on cheese when it is placed in a badly ventilated or moist area. Mold spores are airborne all around us, invisible to the naked eye. And if one spore makes it onto a piece of cheese, it can begin to reproduce rapidly and feed off of the cheese.

The amount of mold that grows on cheese depends on the type of cheese as well. There are soft, semi soft, semi hard or hard cheeses produced, and the softer the cheese, the quicker the chances it can grow mold. Most soft cheeses are more watery, and are also the freshest cheeses, and will facilitate more growth if it comes into contact with mold.

Types of Molds

Some fungi can get all of the nutrition they need to grow by developing on cheese. Mold types of the family Penicillium, which produce blue-green spores that give the mold its color. Most types of Penicillium are harmless and, in fact, are often used to give the Blue Cheeses their color and flavor, so they are very safe to eat.

Many molds on hard cheeses can simply be cut off, and the rest of the cheese can be eaten. However, most softer cheeses will need to be discarded if mold develops on them.

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