Creamy, tangy, and uniquely flavored, goat cheese is a fantastic addition to any cheeseboard.
Also a great melting cheese, goat cheese works well in place of other popular cow or sheep milk cheeses when cooking.
However, like any dairy product, that block in your fridge has an expiry point. How can you tell if goat cheese has gone bad?
Normal v Bad Goat Cheese
Firstly, take a good look at the goat cheese. Normally it should look bright and dry on its surface, especially once cut into.
If the goat cheese presents any unusual wetness or discoloration inside or outside, this is often a sign that the cheese has gone bad. If you happen to spot mold anywhere on the cheese, this is a more obvious sign that it is now unsafe to eat.
Secondly, for safety, you can smell the goat cheese. Safe and healthy goat cheese should have minimal smell, with a fresh, tangy, or even slightly tart aroma at most.
If you recognize any sour or moldy smell from the goat cheese, it has likely passed its expiry point and should not be eaten. Furthermore, if you detect any ammonia or chemical scent from the cheese, this is a common indication that it has spoiled.
Thirdly, you can touch and feel the consistency of the goat cheese to be sure. Typically goat cheese should not change its texture, if it was soft and creamy or smooth and firm when purchased, it should remain so while still safe to eat.
If you find the goat cheese has developed a slimy texture on the exterior or interior, or that its consistency has changed noticeably, eating should be avoided.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Goat Cheese?
Eating expired goat cheese is not always necessarily dangerous, but should absolutely be avoided.
The effects, when eaten, can depend on the person. Some people may show little to no side effects, while others can suffer serious unpleasantness and even a risk to their life.
Similarly, the quantity of goat cheese eaten can vary its effects. Eating a small amount may simply cause an upset stomach. Unfortunately, eating a large amount of spoiled goat cheese can be very risky to your health.
Any food contaminated with mold or too much harmful bacteria can cause nasty digestive effects and even food poisoning. Such symptoms can include sweating, shivering, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and even fever.
More severe cases of these symptoms can be caused by the presence of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, or Brucella bacteria. Any of these may require medical attention in order to treat safely and effectively.
How Long Does Goat Cheese Last Once Opened?
While sealed goat cheese from the supermarket can last around up to 1 month, opened goat cheese has a shorter shelf life.
Store-bought goat cheese is usually airtight and vacuum-sealed to ensure it will not oxidize or harbor harmful bacteria. However, if bought from a specialist store or cheesemonger, this may not be the case.
Typically when its package has been opened, or if it was bought just lightly wrapped, goat cheese will stay fresh and safe to consume for up to 1 week at maximum.
That said, it is wise to remain vigilant to any detectable signs of expiration, as set out in the section above. Any time beyond the 1-week point may be risky, as the goat cheese will begin to spoil due to bacteria overgrowth.
How to Store Goat Cheese Once Opened
As with any cheese, opened goat cheese is safest kept well-sealed in its original container. Otherwise, it is also very safe to store it in a separate, clean, airtight container of your own.
It is best to keep your sealed goat cheese container in the refrigerator. This is especially important if your kitchen is often warm or you live in a warmer climate.
Keeping it out on your cheeseboard for a small amount of time is fine, but it is always safest to store goat cheese sealed in a cold fridge when not being eaten.
If you prefer (or if you do not need it right away) you can even store your goat cheese in the freezer. When the cheese is well wrapped and sealed in an airtight container, it can keep well for up to 3 months frozen.
It is not recommended to keep it frozen beyond this point as it can affect both the safety and flavor of the goat cheese.
If you do decide to freeze it, make sure the cheese is thoroughly thawed before eating. When thawed after freezing, you may experience a slight textural change in the cheese. This should be nothing concerning in terms of its safety.
Even if your goat cheese is still unopened, it is safest kept in the fridge or freezer. Doing this slows its expiration, compared to leaving it in a cupboard or on a countertop.
Does Some Goat Cheese Go Bad Before Others?
It should be noted that goat cheese can come in a few different forms.
You may have goat cheese that is very white, soft, and made recently with fresh milk. Instead, you may have aged goat cheese that appears slightly more off-white and has a wrinkly or hard exterior.
Generally speaking, firmer or harder goat cheese will have a longer shelf life than the soft and fresh kind. Its aging process is a form of preservation, meaning this firmer type will take longer to go bad or spoil.
Often it will have a stronger cheesy smell and flavor even when just opened. That said, you should still exercise caution and consume your goat cheese within 1 week of opening.
Soft, creamy, fresh goat cheese is likely to go bad more quickly.
The higher level of moisture and lack of salt or aging in the preservation process means this cheese is less protected against bacteria growth. It should still keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
However, it will usually show signs of expiration faster than a firmer or more mature goat cheese will, meaning you should be a bit more careful with this kind.
What Can You Use Instead Of Goat Cheese?
If your goat cheese is no longer safe to eat, or it inspires any doubt, there are several alternatives you can eat or cook with instead.
To substitute a fresh or creamy goat cheese, ricotta and cream cheese are great choices. Both have a subtle blend of gentle and slightly tangy flavor, with great spreading or cooking capabilities.
If you prefer, to substitute firmer and stronger-tasting goat cheese, you can use feta or blue cheese. Either of these options can provide the same bold and tart flavor that is great on an after-dinner cheeseboard or as a garnish.
For a vegan option, you can even try using silken tofu. This is a soft and creamy kind of tofu with a gentle flavor that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
To Sum Up
While a slight odor is not a problem, a sour or strong chemical smell can be. Similarly, keep an eye out for any change in color or appearance in general, and toss that goat cheese away at the first sign of mold to be safe.