Can I Eat It filter: I forgot to move my cheese
April 27, 2013 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I bought some goat, gruyere, fontina, blue, and fancy cheddar cheeses from a gourmet cheese shop last night and left it in my car overnight (it only gets down to about 70 degrees -- if that -- at night where I live). Can I still eat it?

I dropped about $50 on this stuff for a mac and cheese recipe I'm making for a party tonight so I'm loathe to throw it out. On the other hand, the idea of poisoning 40 guests isn't very appealing either.
posted by _Mona_ to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am a former cheesemonger but I am not your cheesemonger.

They should be fine. Smell them and taste them. Cheese is already a fermented product, and can take a fair amount of abuse before becoming inedible.

Personally, I would not hesitate (after smelling and tasting them) to make them into mac and cheese to serve to guests.

Oh, and if they're still wrapped in plastic, unwrap them right now. You can wrap them in wax paper until you're ready to use them. It will let them "breathe" a little.
posted by rtha at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

Cheese was invented as a way to preserve milk before we had refrigeration...

USDA suggests throwing out the soft cheeses and keeping the hard ones. (scroll down to the 'refrigerator foods' section) But personally I'd use them all, especially if they're to be melted anyway, so long as they don't smell or taste obviously off.
posted by ook at 9:07 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would just make the mac and cheese right now and consider it a prolonged melting phase. I am by no means a food expert but personally, I would look at it and smell it (maybe taste it?) and then if it's fine, cook with it right away. I think stuff spoils when it's had time to, like, grow mold and stuff. One overnight doesn't seem like enough time for cheese to have bad elements grow. Maybe let it cook a little longer and higher if possible to ensure if there was anything, it would be killed.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:08 AM on April 27, 2013

I live in France and am French! (couldn't help it :) )

Seconding rtha, they should be fine. In fact they'll probably be even better... although that's by strong-cheese-loving-French standards. Here they purposefully leave out those types of cheese at room temperature (which is in the mid to upper 70s here).
posted by fraula at 9:08 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Don't tell the other food scientologists I said this but I would still eat them and you will be fine. I work in the dairy industry if that has any pull.
posted by catseatcheese at 9:24 AM on April 27, 2013

I just want to add, that mac and cheese sounds really good. You should totally come back and let us know how it turned out and share the recipe. Mmm, cheese.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

My only concern about this is you said that it "only" gets down to 70 degrees at night. Which would make your car an oven, no?

I would not put congealed melted cheese (especially the cheddar) into a recipe like this. It might not come out that good.

I don't think the fact that it's been sitting in a hot car makes it unsafe for human consumption, I just feel like cheddar gets gross when it melts and might ruin a macaroni and cheese recipe.
posted by Sara C. at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2013

Here they purposefully leave out those types of cheese at room temperature (which is in the mid to upper 70s here).

Yeah, that. My only caveat is if the goat cheese is a fresh cheese it might not be at its best (if you were going to serve it uncooked, with crackers or bread or crudite)....but I have left unaged cheeses out of refrigeration overnight sort of accidentally aka too tired to clean up after a party, and eaten them the next day with no ill effects.

On preview, re the cheddar: it's already going to get melted in the mac and cheese, so a little, um, pre-softening isn't going to make much difference, I think.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another former cheesemonger here just agreeing with rtha. Make the Mac and cheese and enjoy!
posted by jaksemas at 10:21 AM on April 27, 2013

I once had a non-aged Brie go a bit funky (strong ammonia smell) when I left it out for a day or so. But it was perfectly safe to eat, just not pleasant.

All of these cheeses sound like they could take being left out - especially the cheddar. I've taken cheddar camping and had it be in 35 degrees centigrade for days on end - and it got greasy, but it didn't go off and was just as edible on day 5 as day 1. The only reason to refrigerate most hard cheeses is to stop them going greasy and to delay mold formation.
posted by jb at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2013

My only caveat is if the goat cheese is a fresh cheese it might not be at its best...

Yes, this is true - I live in a harder goat cheese(s) part of France, so had sort of forgotten about the soft goat cheeses, which are more common in the US, IIRC.

The only reason to refrigerate most hard cheeses is to stop them going greasy

This too is true, but conversely, it is another reason a lot of hard cheeses are left at room temperature here. See, cheese-grease soaks into bread, ensuring maximum yum-stink spreadage and enjoyment.
posted by fraula at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2013

Seconding Fraula: I also live in Europe and here many of the high-quality shops do not even refrigerate such cheeses during the day. I used to think that was gross but I realized that the product often tastes better at room temperature. (I still keep it in the fridge most of the time but take it out a long time before serving.)
posted by rpfields at 12:17 PM on April 27, 2013

How do you think cheese is aged?

Granted, the interior of your car is too hot. But an aged cheddar has already been sitting for months unrefrigerated. Cheese is preserved milk.
posted by aychedee at 1:07 PM on April 27, 2013

I accidentally left a Snickers out overnight, and the room got to over 70-F.

Statistically speaking, that candy bar is not as safe to eat as your cheese.

Go for it.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:29 PM on April 28, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I ended up using the cheese and I'm happy to report we are all still alive and well.

This was the mac and cheese recipe in question. Oh, it is SO good.
posted by _Mona_ at 6:47 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older What are some good free download games for young...   |   Burning Wax Smell after Driving Car Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.