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Have you ever bought a loaf, or a package of sliced Tillamook Cheddar and noticed a thin layer of white, crystal like formations on the outside? Before you cut it off or through away you cheese, read this! The white substance that you are seeing on your cheese is not mold, it is calcium lactate!

Calcium lactate is quite common in aged cheese because it forms during the natural aging process. When you see calcium lactate in cheese, it usually means you’ve found a well-aged and flavorful loaf. Well done, you!

The calcium lactate often looks like a white, film-like coating, or small dots. In older cheeses, like our Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, it may even be sprinkled within the loaf. That’s what those little crunchy pieces are in your cheese!

Calcium lactate particles can be as large as peas, but they’re usually about pinhead-size, or a white coating when found in Tillamook Cheese, The most important thing to remember about Calcium lactate is that it is naturally occurring and perfectly safe to eat!

If you’re ever unsure or want to chat about what you’re seeing on your cheese, reach out to the Consumer Relations team here!

32 comments

Chrissy

Funny. I sort of knew it was OK to eat, but still cut it off any away. I am kind of OCD about these things. Next time I will try and use my cheese w/out shaving off the white stuff.

June 17th, 2015 at 9:22 am

Tillamook Team

Hi Chrissy,
Glad this post could help. If you're ever nervous, you can always give the team a call (1-855-562-3568) or email us to chat about what you're seeing on your cheese to be sure. :)

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

June 17th, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Tom Roberts

My wife bit into a pea sized piece that was not crunchy it was solid and about broke her tooth. I am taking it back to Costco for a refund. She is afraid to eat any more of the wedge.

November 15th, 2016 at 4:43 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Tom,

Ouch! I hope she is ok! The more aged a cheddar is, the more calcium lactate or "cheese crystals" will be in the cheddar. If you wouldn't mind contacting our Consumer Relations team (https://www.tillamook.com/contact.html) we'd love to get a little more information from you.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

November 15th, 2016 at 10:15 am

jan

how can I prevent this stuff from accumilating

March 5th, 2017 at 7:28 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Jan,

Thanks for your question. Calcium lactate forms naturally in cheese as it ages. The more aged the cheese is, the more calcium lactate will accumulate. If you dislike calcium lactate, we suggest choosing cheeses that are not aged. You can find all of our cheeses and how long they are aged on our Cheese Product Page.

Thanks again for reaching out!

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

March 6th, 2017 at 6:20 pm

J

Oh thank goodness. I have a mold allergy and a tight budget, so this block of Tillamook was a splurge. I'd seriously cry if I'd had to throw it away. Thank you so much for the peace of mind! And this was the top google result too so kudos to your web team.

March 9th, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Jen,

I'm so glad this was useful for you! Moldy cheese is never fun, so we're glad it turned out to be calcium lacate:) I also shared your message with our web team and told them to keep up the good work. Thanks again for stopping by our blog!

All the best,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

March 10th, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Nikolette

Thank you for this! I was about to throw out an entire package of the thin sliced cheese, and have actually scraped the calcium lactate off blocks before. From now on I'll just enjoy the crunch!

March 23rd, 2017 at 11:18 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Nikolette,

Happy to help! Enjoy!

Best wishes,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

March 27th, 2017 at 9:55 am

Pam White

Hi tillamook,
I was very concerned until I read these messages, never eaten cheese with white, normally scrape off, but on thin slices that not easy; manager said i could return for a better one, but I may convince myself it's ok.

May 27th, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Pam,

I hope this helps reassure you! Calcium lactate is completely normal and safe to consume. If you're ever concerned, feel free to contact our Consumer Relations team and send us a photo at info@tillamook.com. We're happy to double check with our Quality Assurance team just to be safe.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

May 31st, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Terry Tankersley

Is there calcium in medium white cheddar?
I am taking some meds and can't have any calcium for 2 hrs before or after taking the meds. But I love my cheese with my eggs.
Thanks
Terry

June 25th, 2017 at 7:51 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Terry,

Yes, there are 180mg of calcium per serving in our Medium White Cheddar. You can find the nutritional information for this cheese on our website:
https://www.tillamook.com/products/cheese/loaf/medium-white-cheddar.html

I hope that helps!

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

June 26th, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Jay

Thank you for this information! It is good to know. We love Tillamook cheese. Every variety we have tried is outstanding!

October 20th, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Jay,

We're glad this was helpful info for you! Have a great day!

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

October 23rd, 2017 at 10:54 am

Ashley Warner

I’m on a constant search for soft cheeses, like cheddars, that have an abundance of calcium crystals. I have found only one brand of 15 month aged cheddar from England at a “natural foods” store and they cut and wrap it themselves and never seemed very engaged when I try to make inquiries or ask for suggestions. I’m no fromagier, formaggiaio, affineur and sadly, not even a cheesemonger. I will never be on the level of the greats like Monsieur Herve Mons(France), Rolf Beeler (Switz) and Luigi Guffanti (Italy) are examples of great European affineurs. I have been called a caseophile or turophile because I simply love every cheese I get my hands on. I tend enjoy the tyrosine crystals in the aged gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano varieties but the calcium lactate are my favorite. I had no idea that Tillamook had cheese with crystals! My husband will be relieved because I am spending quite a bit of money on cheese when I make my weekly trip to the “natural store”. I can’t seem to spend less than $50-$60 a week on cheese that I know I love and I make myself buy odd cheese that I don’t think I would like but I want to have an open mind and open palate. I would love to hear any suggestions from your cheese experts. I have no problem giving you my direct phone line but I’m not sure how tp give you my information without plastering all over the internet. I’m looking forward to hearing back from someone on your staff because I know I have not even scraped a small scratch into the world of cheese that awaits me! Best regards!

October 27th, 2017 at 7:33 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Ashley,

Wow! It sounds like you are a real cheese connoisseur! Typically our aged cheddars (3-5 year) are the most likely to have cheese crystals because they develop as the cheese ages. Unfortunately those are considered "specialty" cheeses and are not made as frequently, and thus can be difficult to find. If you are interested in our aged cheddars, you can call our Visitors Center at 503-815-1300 to place a phone order or check at your local Costco. For any other questions about our cheese, feel free to contact our Consumer Relations team at this link:

https://www.tillamook.com/contact.html

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

October 27th, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Ashley Warner

Sierra, thank you for responding so promptly and answering my questions and providing more information about Tillamook’s cheeses. You can rest assured that I will be calling and placing a phone order for some of the aged cheeses. I can’t wait to try them. Thanks again for the information and help!

November 4th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Call me Impressed

Indeed, this came up as the top result as I sought confirmation that this block of Medium Cheddar before me was still suitable for eating after a time of non-refrigeration made tiny white spots very noticeable throughout the cheese.

I read all the way through the comments just because it was such a pleasant, informative thread. And that initial query by Ashley Warner was gold! Props to the Tillamook team for facilitating such great communication about the greatness that is Cheese.

November 16th, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Call Me Impressed,

We're glad you enjoyed this post and the conversation that followed! Calcium lactate/cheese crystals can be confusing or alarming if you're seeing it for the first time, so we are thrilled that this article has been helpful to so many people. Enjoy your cheddar, and have a great weekend!

Best wishes,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

November 17th, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Nan

The white pin size spots are not crunchy but mushy. They are only on the cut sides/edges. Since your site explains they are on well aged cheese, I believe this will turn into mold.

November 19th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Nan,

We're sorry to hear you're having trouble with our cheese! Feel free to contact our Consumer Relations team if you need any additional help or if this turns out to be mold: https://www.tillamook.com/contact.html

Any information you can provide from the package will be very helpful.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

November 20th, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Christy Lowry

Are they also on your farmstyle cut medium cheddar cheese?

November 26th, 2017 at 9:37 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Christy,

Typically cheese crystals/calcium lactate isn't as common in our shredded cheeses, or at least isn't as noticeable. However, we do use potato starch in our shredded cheeses to prevent the shreds from clumping together and becoming unusable. If you notice a white powder on your shredded cheese, it is likely a small amount of natural potato starch.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

November 27th, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Christina

I am so glad I looked this up. I shaved off the outer layer and then noticed it was throughout the block of cheese ( almost threw in trash) thankfully googled it and discovered I actually have an awesome block of cheese!!

January 18th, 2018 at 9:26 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Christina,

Yay! We're so glad to hear this was a helpful article for you!

All the best,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

January 23rd, 2018 at 9:06 am

Mark Jenkins

Thanks for this! I thought nuking (microwaving) my cheese would make it okay, but good to know there is nothing wrong in the first place. Thanks for making the best cheese out there.

April 15th, 2018 at 7:09 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Mark,

We're glad to hear this was helpful! Thanks for taking the time to stop by our blog!

All the best,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

April 16th, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Daniel

Every package of sliced Tillamook cheddar I buy has that so I figured it was normal. I always figured it was something you guys added to make sure the slices down stick like cellulose such as is found in shredded cheese. Also I can always see cut marks on the slices from the blade, I like that because I know it’s sliced and not formed slices. The white stuff tends to settle in those cut marks.

April 23rd, 2018 at 6:51 pm

Dominic Mezo

What if the cheese isn't aged?

May 30th, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Dominic,

Do you have an example? Typically calcium lactate forms as the cheese ages. If the cheese isn't aged or if it aged for a very short amount of time, you generally wouldn't see calcium lactate.

I hope that helps!

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

May 31st, 2018 at 9:09 am
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