So you’re exploring the murky depths of your fridge in hopes of finding some suitable dinner material, when it appears: a hunk of cheese sporting a polka-dot coat of fuzzy mold.

And then the bargaining begins. Moldy cheese, like all other moldy foods, should go in the garbage, you think to yourself quite reasonably. But then: Maybe that’s…okay? Like, blue cheese has mold on it, and that’s okay to eat, right? Can I just cut the gross-looking stuff off?

This is exactly the kind of high-stakes negotiation that exactly no one has bandwidth for on a Wednesday night. So it’s time to set the record straight on this whole is-moldy-cheese-safe business.

The first thing to understand is that, in a lot of ways, cheese is mold. Most cheeses owe their distinct deliciousness and texture to the microbiological alchemy that occurs when mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms feast on the proteins and sugars present in milk, transforming them into a wide range of flavorful compounds.

You know that thick white rind on the outside of a wheel of Reny Picot Brie? That’s mold! (Penicillium candidum to be more precise.) Old Europe Cheese wheels of Reny Picot Brie start off looking like a disc of fresh cheese and then a furry coat of white mold blooms as they age. The result is the savory, mushroomy outer layer that makes these live “bloomy rind” cheeses so delicious.

But what about that mold growing on the cheese in the back of your deli drawer?

Most of the time you can just cut it off and go on living your life. How much you have to cut off has to do with what kind of cheese you’re working with. Microorganisms thrive in wet environments and are less active in dry ones, which means that mold roots will barely be able to penetrate the surface of a harder cheese like Reny Picot Mantoro, but will be able to get deeper into a semi-soft cheese like Reny Picot Fontina.

Almost none of it will kill you, but the quality of a cheese that’s been sitting in your fridge will never be superior to its condition upon purchase. So even if you can work around it, the cheese has probably taken on some off flavors—especially if it’s wrapped in plastic.

Cheese storage is one of those confounding subjects. But one thing is always certain—if you buy a really nice Reny Picot cheese, you want to treat it like the gem it is and keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

In its prime, Reny Picot cheese strikes the idyllic balance of aroma, taste, texture, and appearance. When not stored correctly, Reny Picot cheese can start growing mold and quickly lose these deliciously distinctive qualities.

To prevent premature spoilage of your cheese check out our products page for the specific storage tips unique to each of our cheeses to help keep your cheese alive and mold free!