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Tips For Storing Cheese

Posted by Vitali C on

Here at Cheeysplace, we get tons of emails about one particular topic—cheese storage.

It's an important one, because if you actually manage to stop yourself from eating that entire piece of pricey blue cheese you just bought, you're going to want to know how to properly store it!

We're going to reveal useful tips for storing your cheese, so that it will last until your next indulgence.

But first:

When it comes to keeping cheese fresh, you only need to think about controlling two factors: Moisture and Air.

As long as you balance these two things, your cheese will last until you're ready to enjoy it. And we're going to show you how to do this.

It is important to note that these methods work best for harder cheeses. Soft cheeses contain a much higher moisture content, and are therefore more susceptible to going bad.

Soft cheeses should be eaten soon after purchasing. 


Cheese is super durable

Don't forget, cheese was around for hundreds of years before we began using refrigeration.

Humans are creative beings, and have used this ingenuity for figuring out ways to keep cheese for long periods of time. So there's no reason for anybody to be throwing away cheese purchased just last week. 

In some countries (France - I'm looking at you), people keep cheese right on the counter for days at a time. Although that's quite extreme for us in North America, and I wouldn't recommend it, it shows us how tough cheese is.

Moisture and Air

These 2 elements have a great effect on the life of your cheese. Simply, moisture turns into mold, and air dries the cheese out.

So the good news is, if you can control these two things, your cheese will live.

It's important to remember that cheese is made up of living and breathing organisms. So cheese does needs to breathe, but give it too much air, and it will dry out.

Cheese also naturally produces moisture, which is fine, but too much moisture causes mold or eventually turns the cheese to mush. It's all about balancing the two. 

So how do you do this?

The wrap

Unless you've invested in some type of speciality cheese wrap or bags such as Formaticum, you will need to work with what's available to you. 

Plastic wrap is famously hated amongst the cheese gurus, but it does work for storing your cheese short-term. If you're going to use it, just be sure to change it often.

Every time you take your cheese out of the fridge to enjoy a wedge or two, it's important NOT to reuse the same wrap.

First, gently dab your cheese with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, and then wrap it in fresh plastic wrap. 

Ziploc Bags cause a ton of moisture to build up, which leads to quicker mold growth.

If you're going to put your cheese in bags, just wrap them in some parchment paper first. The paper will absorb any excess moisture. Again, change the paper often, to make sure it doesn't get too wet.

Plastic containers or any containers, including glass, metal, etc., should be treated the same way as the bags. Wrap the cheese in paper first, then place it in the container. 

My cheese is moldy, what should I do?

With natural cheeses, if you catch the mold in time, you can probably salvage some or most of it.

If there's just some surface mold, simply scrape it or cut it off.

If it has penetrated into the cheese, though, you will need to cut off pieces, bit by bit until there is no more mold. Then cut off a little bit more, just to be certain. 

Freezing cheese

In general, you don't want to freeze artisanal cheese, as it destroys the texture and usually alters its flavour profiles.

The only cheeses that I've seen people freeze with good results are grating cheeses like Parmesan and Pecorino Romano.

However, if you are simply using a cheese to melt or cook with, you will likely not notice any detrimental effects from the freezing. Just defrost it slowly in the fridge first. But otherwise, there's no good reason for you to freeze cheese!

Vacuum sealing cheese

When you vacuum seal cheese, you're locking in the moisture and keeping out any air. This is a good way to preserve cheese, but as mentioned earlier, cheese is a living, breathing organism.

Over time, the moisture in the cheese will cause it to deteriorate.

So, if you're going to vacuum seal your cheese, wrap it first in wax or parchment paper. The paper will absorb the excess moisture and keep your cheese from deteriorating for at least a few months.

Although this method will not keep cheese forever, it is the best way we have found to store cheese for long periods of time.

Bonus Tips!

Thanks to one of our readers, we have added a couple bonus tips. 

Use gloves - this may seem a little excessive, but remember, your living, breathing cheese is full of bacteria. And so are your hands! Even handling cheese with clean hands can transfer oils and other bacteria that can promote mold growth on your cheese.

Alternate the side you cut from - this helps keep one particular side of the cheese from getting too old, and therefore less likely to develop mold or get dried out.

Cheese is not cheap these days, and I hate to see people throwing anything away. Consider some of the tips above when storing cheese and you'll be far less likely to throw away a moldy piece of cheese again!

Good luck cheese lovers, 

Vitali
Co-founder of Cheesyplace.com

 

 


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  • As an owner of a cheese shop, I can appreciate the great tips! You might also consider NOT touching the cheese with your bre hands, as the natural oils in your skin react negatively with the cultures in the cheese, which in turn will promote mold growth. One more tip is to ensure you’re cutting slices from all sides of the cheese, particularly the oldest side first.

    Rick Peori on

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