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How can you tell if blue cheese has gone bad?

Recently we published a story on whether or not you can still use ground beef that has turned brown (TL;DR: Probably, but if it smells bad it’s got to go). A commenter then posted another interesting question in the is-it-okay-to-eat category: How can you tell when blue cheese goes bad? After all, it smells pretty pungent to begin with. What happens when it goes bad—it starts to smell good? In the interest of science, and because we love blue cheese, we decided to investigate.

Omer Reese, a retired Chicago-based cheese distributor and bonafide blue fan, assuaged our fears: “I don’t think cheese, when it gets old or really goes bad… It’s not poison or anything.” In fact, in all his years of cheese mongering, “I don’t think I’ve actually ever had any that went bad.” That’s because, he says, blue cheese is very “flexible,” and can vary wildly from color (greenish, blueish) to texture. It also has “a hundred different shades of flavor, depending on the kind, and the age and so forth. Some of it is very acrid, and some of it is almost sweet. So unless it tastes totally unpleasant,” he concludes, “it probably wouldn’t be a problem.”

Carie Wagner, Wisconsin’s only female master cheesemaker (an official state designation), and cheese and egg product manager at Organic Valley, also enthuses about the stinky stuff. “I love blue cheese and always have some on hand in my fridge.” As a fan and certified cheese expert, she has a few tips to make your blue last longer. When purchasing your blue, “look for blue/green mold and a cream-to-white body.” When you open the cheese, “a slight ammonia smell is okay,” but as blue continues to get stronger with age, best to eat it within a week or two. To that end, she purchases her blue in small packages (8 ounce or less), to keep an abundance of the cheese from going bad. And to keep your blue from being affected by other cheeses—and to keep your blue from stinking up the joint—store all your open cheese in separate freezer bags in your fridge. Wagner added that she’s repacked blue cheeses and it kept in her fridge for 8-months-plus, but for best results, buy in small quantities and eat within a few weeks.

That months-old wonderful cheese, however, likely did not feature any of the following warning signs Wagner says to look out for: “Mold that is gray, fuzzy, black; yeast—shiny, pink, yellow clusters; slimy body,” which indicates that the cheese is beginning to go bad. Like Reese, she urges you to go with your gut: If it tastes or smells like something you wouldn’t want to eat, don’t eat it.

Jill Giacomini Basch, co-owner of California’s famed Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company & The Fork (known for its exemplary blue cheese), also points to bad smells and pink hues as indicators that the blue cheese has gone to the dark side: “It smells musty, rancid, or ammoniated, or it develops a pinkish hue.” Also, if it has become dry and hard.

Recently we published a story on whether or not you can still use ground beef that has turned brown (TL;DR: Probably, but if it smells bad it’s got to go). A commenter then posted another interesting question in the is-it-okay-to-eat category: How can you tell when blue cheese goes bad? After all, it smells pretty pungent to begin with. What happens when it goes bad—it starts to smell good? In the interest of science, and because we love blue cheese, we decided to investigate.

A Very Thorough Explanation Of Why Blue Cheese Is The Worst

It’s got way more problems than the smell.

“@here POLL: Do you want blue cheese in your buffalo mac?”

Such was the beginning of a lengthy discussion about blue cheese in the internal Delish chat room, in which I learned most of my co-workers are totally against me when it comes to one very important cheese opinion: Blue cheese is objectively the worst. Now, to clarify, most people said no to that question, but they still supported the hell out of the cheese. I’m here to take down that argument.

Without further ado, I present to you all the reasons blue cheese is the WORST, from someone who loves cheese more than any other food on this planet.

It smells. horrific.

Of course this is the first point! Nothing ruins a perfectly lovely cheese board like a hunk of blue cheese stinking up the place. It does not smell good and is therefore not enjoyable to eat. And unlike, say, hard boiled eggs, which are objectively pungent, too, blue cheese is the kind of smelly that stays with you as you eat it. It’s not a catch-a-whiff-and-move-on situation, it LINGERS.

It gets everywhere.

Because of its crumbly consistency, blue cheese isn’t the kind of ingredient you can avoid once it infiltrates your space. If it’s on a salad, or a sandwich, the second you try and move it out of the way, it spreads all over the place, and the rest of your meal is ruined. Have some respect, blue cheese.

It’s part of the worst salad.

Speaking of salads, blue cheese is a fixture in what is clearly the lowest salad on the totem pole: the wedge salad. Who on god’s green earth truly enjoys eating a chunk of iceberg lettuce? Tomatoes, I get. Bacon, duh, bring it on. But the base itself, PLUS the addition of blue cheese crumbles? Hard pass.

Ranch > blue cheese.

I don’t know how this is even an argument, but it’s one I saw pop up on Twitter several times during my attempt to understand why people enjoy blue cheese. For some reason, people like to pit ranch against blue cheese. Ranch is SO FAR superior to blue cheese, I don’t even know where to start. Ranch makes all the best junk foods better—chicken tenders, french fries, pizza. Blue cheese dressing, meanwhile, drowns out the taste of anything it goes on.

Literally every cheese is better.

If after all this, you still think blue cheese is a cheese worth eating, fine, you do you. But let me leave you with this last thought. If we were ranking all the cheeses ever, SOME cheese would have to take last place. You’re telling me creamy brie, or sharp cheddar, or spicy pepper jack, or the best of all cheeses, manchego, would fall below smelly, chunky blue cheese? No siree bob. I believe in my heart blue cheese would earn last place. That is all.

Nothing ruins a perfectly lovely cheese board like a hunk of blue cheese stinking up the place.