Moldy Gorgonzola (Blue Cheese): Gone or Still Good?

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Aaron

Eww, It’s moldy! It must be spoiled, isn’t it? It depends. You must be curious about how long does gorgonzola lasts once opened, and how to tell if it has gone bad. Here is a quick answer for you:

Normally, unopened gorgonzola can last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. If the package is opened, it will last for about a week or less. If sits out unrefrigerated, the mold/bacterial growth usually starts to take place very quickly in just 4-10 hours. You may not spot them easily. If properly stored and past the expiration date, the gorgonzola might still be good to eat.

Gorgonzola is a blue cheese that has a beautiful blue-green veining pattern or spots. It’s because of the blooming of a type of mold called Penicillium glaucum which is added during the cheesemaking. So, is gorgonzola supposed to be moldy?

Yes, gorgonzola is a mold-infested product – but not any random mold.

In fact, the whole wheel of cheese is likely to be covered in mold and bacteria when aged for months in the facility. It’s common for workers to scrap off the mold before packing – to make it more appealing.

Eww, I know right..

But it’s totally safe to eat. The cheesemaking process has to be operated under a controlled environment for certain microorganisms to thrive, which is often geographically bounded. That’s why some cheese brands produce way better taste than others. If you are not sure which one to get, I’d say this imported one on Amazon is a pretty good one to try.

Take a look at the image below:

This is the gorgonzola in the aging stage which takes ~2 months. Image by Lori visiting an Italy cheese factory.

How to Know If It’s Bad?

When it gets soft and sticky, it means bad right? No. Gorgonzola is supposed to be semi-soft and smooth to cut, whereas cheese can be a little sticky to the knife which is completely normal. If you are getting yourself a young gorgonzola dolce, it will tend to be softer (almost like butter).

So, how should a good gorgonzola look & taste like?

The perfectly matured gorgonzola should have a delicious taste of sweetness, a strong aroma, sharp, buttery, and a slightly crumbly but firm texture.

The “dying” gorgonzola has a few common characteristics to look for:

  • Unnatural new mold/bacteria growth — black/grey/white/yellow/pink mold which could be in patches, small dots, or fuzzy patterns on the cheese surface.
  • Just smell and taste “off” — sour, rancid, putrid odor, ammonia or chemical-like, overpowering feet-like, spoiled milk.
  • Physically looks melted, wet, and slimy texture. Sometimes may look hard, dry up, or darken in color depending on how you store it. Simply not appetizing.
There are a few more colonies I notice after, see upper right cluster of grey color mold.

Never confuse molds for cheese crystals. Read more in Cheese Crystals vs. Molds.

Why Does Gorgonzola Cheese Stink?

The longer a cheese is aged, the more pronounced its aroma can become. During the aging process, the cheese undergoes various chemical changes, leading to the production of aromatic compounds.

Sometimes, it’s normal for gorgonzola to have a little off-putting smell, usually accompanied by a mild refreshing creamy aroma. Some people may reckon it as sour, or fair smelly, others see it as an indicator of well-aged cheese. Gorgonzola’s aroma is generally considered mild and likely acceptable among the blue cheeses.

The smell is caused by the mold and bacteria that grow with the cheese, particularly Penicillium roqueforti, which also contributes to the blue-green vein. Another example is a type of bacteria called B. linen, this is the same type of bacteria that makes your feet stink. As the mold grows and metabolizes the components of the cheese, it produces various compounds that contribute to the cheese’s characteristic aroma.

The breakdown of proteins and fats plays a role in the smell too.

If you don’t want your gorgonzola to be too stinky, get the younger version — gorgonzola dolce. The aged version is the gorgonzola piccante, which tends to be stronger in smell, sharper, and more firm in texture.

So, Is Moldy Gorgonzola still Safe to Eat?

Let’s be sensible. We don’t like to waste food, or cheese in this case, but we always are forgetful!

So what should you do? toss it?

If there is clearly mold inside an unopened package of gorgonzola, don’t eat it. Chances are, these microscopic bad boys could likely have already contaminated the whole wedges of cheese. Until you notice them with the naked eyes, it’s time to discard them.

Most of the time however, you can simply avoid eating the moldy part of the gorgonzola by cutting off at least 1-inch around the affected spot.

For soft runny cheeses like brie and camembert, if you see some unnatural mold growing on it like the image above, toss it, and never try to salvage them. Likewise for cream cheese spoilage.

If you store your gorgonzola properly in the fridge, it can usually last for a couple of good weeks.

Past Expiration Date

By definition, the expiration date refers to the optimal quality of the product, not the safety date. This means you can still eat it if you see fit, and look for signs of spoilage.

In all sense for moist, perishable dairy like gorgonzola cheese, food safety is not something to take on lightly. While the “best before” date is about quality, safety is still a big concern, especially if the cheese has been stored improperly. If Gorgonzola has been left out of the refrigerator for an extended period, it’s best to discard it regardless of the date.

Essentially, gorgonzola is not as hard and dried as other hard cheeses like cheddar or Parmigiano (read Gorgonzola vs. Parmesan) which sometimes can even be stored unrefrigerated for short periods.

But practically, most people adopt their grandparents’ approach of not wasting food, believing that it’s still good to consume.

This is gorgonzola DOP dolce. The “preferibilmente entro” means “preferably by” in Italian.

That’s to say, most of the time the cheese is still good to eat even past the best-by date a little. It also depends on how you store them. What you need to do is to check for any mold, off smell, and texture. Otherwise, you’re all good.

What if you want to store them for later use, slightly longer than a few weeks? Guess what, just freeze it.

Freeze it?

Yes, you can freeze the gorgonzola cheese in the freezer. The process is more or less the same as how you freeze the asiago cheese as I discussed in another article. If done properly, it will last for months in the freezer and still be safe to eat beyond.

However, freezing and unfreezing the cheese will inevitably destroy some of the texture and flavor of the gorgonzola. It will not add to the “age” of the cheese maturation. Therefore, best not to freeze your gorgonzola unless you have no better option.

Excess/Unfinished Gorgonzola

If you’ve bought too much gorgonzola at a sale or just can’t finish the cheese, here is the 5-step you can do:

  1. Use a clean knife and make sure your hands are cleaned.
  2. Sprinkle the surface of the gorgonzola with some kosher salt.
  3. Wrap the cheese with plastic wrap, parchment paper, wax paper, or baking paper.
  4. Then, keep it in an airtight container, or use a plastic zipper bag but make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible.
  5. Store it in the fridge.

With that, your gorgonzola should be able to last for at least 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can also cube the cheese first for convenience, which also reduces the contamination when you need it later.

Takeaway

Of course, gorgonzola serves best out of the bag, but might still be OK to eat even if molded or expired. I’d say to use Granny’s strategy as it works out most of the time.

The good gorgonzola is always firm and smooth in texture, with a milky aroma and a little pungent.

Bon Appétit!

Do you have dogs? Read more in Can Dogs Eat Gorgonzola Cheese.

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