Is my belatedly opened gift cheese still edible?
March 31, 2011 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Someone ordered me a nice selection of Spanish cheeses for my birthday. It was shipped on Monday, according to the packing slip. It reached my office during business hours on Tuesday, but I was out that day and yesterday. The box sat there until today, when I brought it home. I opened it just now, and found 4 vacuum-packed cheeses in a little styrofoam cooler with a cold-pak -- but everything was at room temperature. The box was labeled PERISHABLE. The cheeses themselves are labeled KEEP REFRIGERATED. I've got the cheeses in the fridge now. Do you think they're still safe to eat?
posted by Artifice_Eternity to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Europeans store and eat cheese at room temperature. I'd eat them. With gusto!
posted by elsietheeel at 6:56 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

They're fine. I used to sell cheese for a living and I still eat it as if I do.
posted by rtha at 7:00 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by yarly at 7:01 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

cheese = mold. that rind on a brie, pure mold bloom. the blue in bleu cheese, penicillin mold. the harder cheeses (mahon, manchego, definitely) will be fine to consume. no rush, but eat them soonish.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 7:04 PM on March 31, 2011

I would eat the hell out of those cheeses (and I'm usually comically paranoid about food safety). But yeah, I'd do it in the next day or two.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2011

Cheese exists because it is a way to preserve milk. If cheese goes bad, you're going to be able to smell it.
posted by musofire at 7:06 PM on March 31, 2011

Yeah. If they whiff of cat pee (ammonia), don't eat them. But they should be fine.
posted by rtha at 7:08 PM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all. My gut instinct (no pun intended) was that they're probably OK -- a couple of days unrefrigerated, but still vacuum-sealed, seems like no biggie, given the nature of cheese.

I'll probably open at least one of them up tomorrow, after they've chilled down, and assuming they smell and taste OK, proceed with the om-nom-nom-ing.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:11 PM on March 31, 2011

I once missed an iGourmet cheese shipment for almost an entire week. (Thanks, FedEx.) The cheese was still delicious.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 7:15 PM on March 31, 2011

They will kill you, send them to me and I'll dispose of them!

crap... I can't do it... if they aren't moldy, they're good... if there's mold, slice it off and enjoy!
posted by tomswift at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to store raw milk cheeses in my dorm for days unrefrigerated, and they were excellent. Ah, college.
posted by mnemonic at 7:46 PM on March 31, 2011

Remember most cheese should be eaten at room temperature, so don't eat them straight from the fridge!
posted by Joh at 7:52 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Cheese: Looks good? Smells good? Is good!
posted by bricoleur at 8:06 PM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hungrily devour those cheeses with extreme prejudice.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

if there's mold, slice it off and enjoy!

Adding to what tomswift said: if it's white, unfuzzy mold, eat it, too.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:14 PM on March 31, 2011

they will taste better
posted by the noob at 8:41 PM on March 31, 2011

Rare that I'll say this since I'm generally on the HAACP end of things, but Yes - they should be fine. Mail ordered cheese is one of the few chances I would take since I would generally assume they are as close to HAACP practices as possible, and the TTA that occurred is well within standard serving practices with most cheese courses. I assume you will be going through these cheeses sooner rather than later. Regardless, getting a little cheese paper and getting it out of the vacuum sealed packaging would be smart, since the moisture variation that occurred could speed up the undesired cheese aging process - which will affect both flavor and texture (moisture content will wick from the inside to the outside, the cheese will sweat, and you'll wind up with slimy gooky cheese).
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:29 PM on March 31, 2011

Some Spanish cheeses, especially soft ones, really whiff at room temp. Rather than go by smell, I'd look for mold... white or green, fine to cut off and eat; pink, ditch it. I'll bet they're fine though.
posted by Cuppatea at 12:10 AM on April 1, 2011

If you don't have cheese paper, wrapping them in wax paper and putting them inside an unsealed ziploc will work too. I have a month-old petit basque cheese in my fridge (thanks, Costco!) wrapped like this and it is still perfect.
posted by yarly at 5:33 AM on April 1, 2011

Vacuum packed makes all the difference, to me. Cheese can keep pretty well, but needs to be protected from spores and things falling onto it.

As cuppatea mentions, the stink is not necessarily a good indicator. Big differences in consistency are. Soft cheeses are generally softer in the middle, but if you find an oddly runny area, beware. Hard cheeses with wet spots are equally suspect.

Aside: cheese is NOT = mold. Cheese is just coagulated milk proteins. The coagulation is often created by some byproduct of some bacteria eating the milk sugar, so many cheeses have dead/hibernating bacteria in it. SOME cheese can have mold IN it and that makes it yummier. (The mold chunks in bleu cheese are injected in- it should be on the inside of it.)

Most cheese should NOT have mold on it.
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on April 1, 2011

Every time one of these questions comes up, I just wonder... why do you think cheese was invented in the first place? I mean, yes, cheese can go bad, but the fundamental reason for cheese to exist in the first place is to preserve milk.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:43 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most cheese should NOT have mold on it, except for really yummy ones like camembert, stilton, brie, ....

FTFY, gjc.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:47 PM on April 4, 2011

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