Brie can be found on almost every cheese platter, but what do you do when the party is over and you still have that extra wheel of brie in your fridge? Can brie cheese go bad, and how do you know without tasting it? Keep reading to find out!
Can Brie Cheese Go Bad?
All cheese can go bad, though some will spoil much more quickly than others. Typically, the softer the cheese, the more quickly it will go bad. Since brie is a very soft cheese, it has a very short shelf life and is typically only good for one or two weeks after the cheese has been opened, when properly stored in the refrigerator.
How to Store Brie
Brie should be tightly wrapped, though should not be in direct contact with plastic, as plastic tends to impart unpleasant flavors to the cheese. To best retain the flavors while preserving the cheese, wrap it tightly in either parchment or wax paper. Repeat the process with cling wrap, so as to seal the cheese from air exposure. The cheese should be kept in the cheese drawer of your refrigerator, where the moisture and temperature will remain relatively constant.
Image used under Creative Commons from Sara
Signs of Spoilage
First inspect the rind of your brie. The bloom should be mostly white and powdery in appearance. If the rind seems overall gray or flaky, then the cheese has likely started to spoil and should not be consumed. While some darker spots here and there are fine, if there is any mold present, the cheese should not be consumed. Similarly, a pink, slimy mold indicates spoilage and the cheese should be discarded.
A slight ammonia smell does not indicate that the cheese has spoiled, and is a natural byproduct of the cheese aging process. Let the cheese air out for a few moments, and smell again. If the rind still has a slight smell, but the paste (the inside of the cheese) smells creamy, then the cheese is fine to eat. If the whole piece of cheese still smells strongly of ammonia after a few minutes, the cheese has probably turned. Trust your nose – if the cheese smells really bad to you, then it’s probably not good to eat.
When the cheese has aged too long, the center will turn rather gooey, and the smell will be almost overpowering. At this point, the cheese is not particularly harmful to consume in terms of pathogens (the natural mold on the rind inhibits the growth of most other organisms), but the taste may be too strong, and could cause digestive discomfort. Again, you should trust your senses here.
Because of how the texture of brie will change, freezing the cheese is not recommended as a long term storage option, unless you plan on baking or cooking the cheese in another dish. To achieve the best texture, it’s best to make the recipe that will include the brie, like a brie en croute or a quiche, and freeze the dish before baking. Previously frozen brie will also make a fabulous grilled cheese! No matter what the final application, be sure that you thoroughly wrap the cheese, as above. You may then either place the wrapped piece of brie in an airtight container, or aluminum foil to keep any air out. Brie will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
If using the frozen brie in a grilled cheese sandwich, the cheese will not need to be completely thawed, but can be thawed in the fridge for an hour or two. At this point, the cheese should be just soft enough to cut into pieces and placed on the bread. Once frozen brie has been thawed, it should not be frozen again.