How do you know if Pecorino Romano is bad?

Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk that is popular for grating over pasta dishes. Like most cheeses, Pecorino Romano has some signs that can indicate if it has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat. Knowing how to properly store Pecorino Romano and what signs to look for can help you avoid accidentally consuming spoiled cheese.

Proper Storage of Pecorino Romano

Proper storage is key to keeping Pecorino Romano fresh and extending its shelf life. Here are some tips for storing Pecorino Romano:

  • Keep refrigerated at all times. Store Pecorino Romano tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper inside the refrigerator. The optimal temperature is around 40°F.
  • If cut or shredded, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. Exposure to air can cause drying out.
  • Use within 2-3 months for best quality. Pecorino Romano is good for grating due to its hard texture.
  • Do not freeze solid chunks of Pecorino Romano as this can compromise the texture. However, grated Pecorino Romano can be frozen for up to 6 months.
  • Keep away from moisture and humidity. Pecorino Romano can become moldy if stored in damp conditions.

Following these storage guidelines helps keep Pecorino Romano fresh for as long as possible after opening. However, there are some signs that can indicate your cheese has spoiled regardless of storage.

Signs Pecorino Romano Has Gone Bad

Here are the main signs that your Pecorino Romano cheese has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth – Mold appears as fuzzy spots or patches and can be white, green, blue, grey, or black. It indicates spoilage.
  • Off smell – Fresh Pecorino Romano has a savory, nutty smell. A sour, bitter, or ammonia-like odor indicates spoilage.
  • Off taste – Along with an off smell, bad Pecorino Romano will taste bitter, sour, or sharp.
  • Change in texture – Soft, gooey, or crumbly texture instead of a hard, granular texture when grated.
  • Discoloration – Signs of yellowish hue instead of white or pale yellow color.
  • Sliminess – Excess moisture causing a slippery texture or film on the cheese’s surface.
  • Dry spots – Pecorino Romano drying out is not necessarily unsafe, but can indicate aging. Use dried out pieces quickly.

Trust your senses – if Pecorino Romano develops a bad smell, taste, appearance or texture, it is best to discard it. Expiration dates can be a helpful indicator, but visible signs of spoilage are most important.

How To Tell If Pecorino Romano Has Expired

In addition to signs of visible spoilage, the expiration date on Pecorino Romano packaging can indicate if it is past its prime:

  • Unopened Pecorino Romano lasts 2-3 months past the “best by” date if properly stored.
  • An opened block will last 3-4 weeks past the “best by” date.
  • Grated Pecorino Romano expires faster, lasting only about 1 week past the date once opened.
  • If there is no printed expiration date, store Pecorino Romano for no more than 2-3 months.

The expiration date is a helpful guideline, but visible signs of spoilage should be your first indicator that Pecorino Romano has gone bad and should be discarded. Rely on your senses along with the date.

What To Do If You Eat Expired Pecorino Romano

We’ve all taken a bite of something only to discover it’s past its prime. If you consume a small amount of expired Pecorino Romano that shows no visible signs of spoilage, the chances of getting sick are low. However, there are risks of foodborne illness from bacteria growth or molds.

Here is what to do if you eat expired Pecorino Romano cheese:

  • If the cheese tasted fine and seems to be only slightly expired, monitor yourself for any stomach issues or other symptoms.
  • Discard any remaining cheese to avoid eating any more of the expired product.
  • If you feel sick soon after consuming the cheese, seek medical care. Food poisoning symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and body aches.
  • Call your doctor if serious symptoms develop like neurological issues or blurred vision, which can indicate botulism poisoning.
  • Report any suspected food poisoning to the FDA. Provide details on the product consumed and where it was purchased.

The risks are low if you accidentally consume a small amount of expired cheese. But it’s best to discard Pecorino Romano if it’s at all questionable to avoid any unnecessary illness.

How To Store Pecorino Romano Properly

Storing Pecorino Romano properly is the best way to extend its shelf life and avoid spoilage. Here are the key storage tips to keep in mind:

  • Refrigerate at 40°F or below – Colder temperatures slow bacteria growth and mold.
  • Wrap tightly – Cover the cheese thoroughly in plastic wrap or wax paper with no air gaps.
  • Limit humidity – Use a salad crisper drawer or cheese paper to absorb extra moisture.
  • Use within 2-3 months – For best flavor and texture, use Pecorino Romano within a few months of purchase.
  • Re-wrap when cutting – After cutting a piece, rewrap the remainder completely.
  • Avoid freezing solid pieces – Freezing can damage the cheese’s texture making it crumbly.

Proper refrigeration and limiting air exposure are the keys to maintaining Pecorino Romano’s quality and freshness. Follow these tips to help it last as long as possible.

What Does Bad Pecorino Romano Look Like?

There are some clear visible signs that can indicate your Pecorino Romano cheese has gone bad and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth – Fuzzy patches or spots of white, green, gray, or black mold.
  • Discoloration – Instead of white or pale yellow, the cheese appears yellowish.
  • Sliminess – Excess moisture causes a shiny, slippery texture or film.
  • Dry spots – Hard, dried out areas means the cheese is aging and should be used quickly.
  • Shrunken texture – The cheese becomes misshapen, shrivels, or collapses.
  • Gas bubbles – Pecorino Romano should not have holes or bubbles inside it.

Rely first on visible signs rather than only the expiration date to determine if your Pecorino Romano cheese has gone bad. Discard it if you see any fuzziness, unusual textures, discoloration, or drying out.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Pecorino Romano?

Consuming spoiled, moldy, or bacteria-ridden Pecorino Romano can cause foodborne illness. The possible health effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting – Stomach distress and vomiting usually start within a few hours of eating bad cheese.
  • Diarrhea – Can range from mild to severe depending on the pathogen and amount consumed.
  • Abdominal cramps and pain – Result from stomach irritation and intestinal distress.
  • Fever – Low-grade fever commonly accompanying gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Headaches – Can result from dehydration due to loss of fluids from vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Botulism poisoning – Rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a toxin that can grow in spoiled foods.

The risks increase if you eat a large quantity of spoiled Pecorino Romano versus just tasting a small amount. Seek medical care if you develop concerning symptoms after consuming bad cheese.

How To Extend Shelf Life Of Pecorino Romano

You can extend the shelf life of Pecorino Romano by following these storage tips:

  • Keep refrigerated at 35-40°F. Colder temperatures slow mold growth.
  • Wrap cheese blocks tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper if cut. Minimize air exposure.
  • Use within 2 months for grated cheese, 3 months for cheese blocks.
  • Do not freeze large chunks of Pecorino Romano to avoid texture damage.
  • Store any shredded or grated cheese in airtight containers or resealable bags.
  • Keep cheese away from moisture and humidity to prevent mold growth.

Proper refrigeration is key, along with keeping Pecorino Romano tightly sealed to prevent drying out. Use within a few months and avoid freezing solid chunks to get the longest usable life out of your Pecorino Romano.

What To Do If You Accidentally Eat Moldy Pecorino Romano

Discovering you’ve accidentally consumed a small amount of moldy cheese happens sometimes. Here is what to do if this occurs with Pecorino Romano:

  • Stay calm – the amount was likely limited so serious illness is unlikely.
  • Monitor yourself for any nausea, fever or other symptoms just in case.
  • Drink extra fluids like water to help flush out anything ingested.
  • Contact your doctor if you develop vomiting, diarrhea or concerning symptoms.
  • Discard any remaining cheese so others don’t accidentally eat it.
  • Clean the container or bag the cheese was stored in before reusing.

Contact emergency services right away if you consumed a large amount of visibly moldy cheese and feel very ill or have difficulty breathing. Otherwise, be diligent about monitoring yourself and contact a doctor with any serious concerns.

What Cheese Can You Substitute For Pecorino Romano?

If you don’t have Pecorino Romano for a recipe, some suitable cheeses you can substitute include:

  • Parmesan – Freshly grated Parmesan adds salty, nutty flavor. Use a little less than the Pecorino Romano amount since Parmesan has less salt.
  • Romano – Very similar flavor profile and can be used in equal amounts.
  • Asiago – The salty, sharp flavor makes it a good direct sub. Use the same quantity.
  • Aged white cheddar – Salty, crumbly texture works well but has a milder flavor. Adjust quantity to taste.
  • Feta – Brings tangy, salty notes. Use about 3/4 of the Pecorino Romano amount since feta is milder.

For topping pastas, salads, soups and bakes that call for Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, and aged cheddar work very well. Play around with the amounts based on their saltiness and flavor profile.

Common Types of Mold Found On Cheese

Several varieties of mold can grow on cheeses like Pecorino Romano if not properly stored. Some common types of cheese molds include:

  • Penicillium – Blue, grey, or green mold with a velvety texture. Named after the antibiotic penicillin which comes from this group of molds.
  • Geotrichum – White, powdery mold growth. Common on aged cheeses.
  • Mucor – Thick grayish mold with a sticky texture.
  • Rhizopus – Black pinhead dots that develop into a hairy texture.
  • Aspergillus – Green or black mold that can produce toxins causing an illness called aspergillosis in those with weakened immune systems.

While some molds like Penicillium are harmless at low levels, it’s always best to discard moldy cheese to avoid potential issues. Never try to cut away the moldy parts and eat the rest of the cheese.


Checking for signs of spoilage and avoiding expired products is important when determining if your Pecorino Romano cheese is still fresh and safe to eat. Look for visible mold, foul odors, changes in color or texture, and sliminess. Storing Pecorino Romano properly in the fridge in sealed packaging helps prevent spoilage and extend its shelf life so you can enjoy it for months. Discard any cheese at the first signs of trouble to avoid potential foodborne illness.

Leave a Comment