Can this cheese be saved?
August 22, 2013 5:29 PM   Subscribe

I just came home to find a box containing some lovely Asiago cheese, sitting in my mailbox. In Arizona, where the current temperature 101°F, and today's high was 109. It was shipped to me from Italy (straight from the town of Asiago!), about a week ago, so has spent several days in transit. This is not aged cheese, but semi-soft younger Asiago as is more common in Italy. It smelled ripe, but not unpleasant, and there was no mold or anything visible. Can I eat it? Will it kill me or make me sick? Is it likely to still taste good, even if it's technically edible? Is there anything special I can do to preserve whatever integrity of the cheese may be left?

It was warm to the touch, not surprisingly, and there was some liquid in the sealed plastic packaging inside the box so I assume it melted a bit. It was a little soft, but I'm not sure exactly what the texture was like when it was fresh.

I drained the liquid and put the cheese in the refrigerator immediately, for whatever that's worth (possibly not much).

I'd really like to be able to enjoy this cheese, which was a very thoughtful gift, but obviously don't want to risk my health, safety, or delicate tastebuds.
posted by Superplin to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am a former cheesemonger and I have eaten (well, tasted) a lot of "is it bad?" cheese.

If it doesn't smell weird or have bad (pink) mold-looking spots, eat it! If it smells a little like cat pee, wipe it down with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar and let it sit for a bit and then re-smell.

Let it come to room temp before you eat it. Which you should do. Eat it, I mean.
posted by rtha at 5:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [29 favorites]

If it smells ok and your health is not compromised, I'd say eat it.
posted by Night_owl at 5:53 PM on August 22, 2013

Hey I'm a little reckless about food that comes up (sorry) in "Can I eat this?" threads so take your cheese with a grain of salt here but I personally would definitely eat that cheese on a cracker and maybe an apple on the side.
I think you are doing it right, get it cold and then when you are ready to try it let it get to room temperature (I think this is the way to eat cheese anyway), make sure you think it is OK, then eat it omnomnom.
posted by bebrave! at 6:09 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

This paper has some interesting scientific data about how cheese prep and storage affects pathogen growth (although it's more relevant to American cheese, there's some neat facts in there that could be helpful for your situation).

My personal opinion - eat the cheese!

(Anecdata - I once ate a semi-cured cheese which had been shipped "muy despacio" from Spain to Canada, ie. more than two weeks in transit. It also had a bit of liquid in the package. I pooled Facebook for an opinion before opening it and most of the answers I got were "wtf eat the delicious imported cheese or I will come over and eat it for you." It WAS delicious, and I survived.)
posted by Paper rabies at 6:17 PM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

I would worry that the heat might compromise the texture, and not hold future young Asiago accountable for whatever feelings you might have for this cheese when you eat it. Which you should.
posted by politikitty at 6:17 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Okay, we seem to have a consensus! I am planning an Asiago-themed lunch tomorrow. I can't wait.

Thanks everyone--you're all best answerers in my book. I just marked rtha's because she used the fabulous word "cheesemonger," which is how I would like to spend my pseudoretirement. Although really I fantasize about more manger-ing than mongering.
posted by Superplin at 6:47 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple days after, "hey we're still alive" posting would be cool. Then we can judge if your chosen best answer was really the best answer ;)
posted by TheAdamist at 7:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Another former cheesemonger voting for you to eat the cheese! And report in on how delicious it is, please.
posted by jaksemas at 7:06 PM on August 22, 2013

I will indeed report back. If you don't hear from me in the next 24 hours, well, your advice wasn't as good as I thought it was...
posted by Superplin at 7:09 PM on August 22, 2013 [9 favorites]

Keep in mind that the original purpose of cheese is a method of storing milk.

Let us know how it was.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:10 PM on August 22, 2013

Eat it all, immediately, just in case it is inclined to go bad faster than it ordinarily would. Or ship it back across the country over to the east coast where I live, so that I can eat it for you right away.

Aw, glad you're not spooked. Mmm, cheese. Lucky you to get Asiago shipped from Asiago.
posted by desuetude at 10:41 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

OMG, you guys, this cheese!

It is super delicious. It has a smooth nuttiness that is making it really, really hard not to do as Desuetude suggests and just wolf down the whole block.

Lucky you to get Asiago shipped from Asiago.

This is one of the great perks of remaining friends with your Italian ex-husband. Highly recommended.
posted by Superplin at 12:13 PM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]

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