Cheese is one of the most loved foods in the world, and there are hundreds of different types. Some people prefer super-expensive gourmet cheeses, while others are fine with the cheaper processed stuff. Whether it's an imported wedge from the cheese counter or pre-sliced from the supermarket, you want it to stay fresh for as long as possible. To help you to keep your cheese fresh, here are 11 things you should do (or avoid doing) from now on:
1. Never Use Cling Film
The worst way to store cheese is in plastic wrap. Sure, it's easy to just throw it in the fridge when you get home, but you're suffocating the flavour. Also, since cheese is mostly oil and fat, after a few days it will actually start to take on the flavour of the plastic, masking the taste of the cheese itself.
2. Don't Wrap it Too Tightly or Too Loosely
There are natural odours emitted from cheese, the most significant being ammonia's pungent smell. If you're not giving your cheese room to breath, it's not only going to smell and taste like plastic, but it's also going to smell and taste like ammonia. However, if you wrap your cheese too loosely, you'll end up with dried-out and hardened chunks, which is just as bad.
3. Cheese Bags or Cheese Paper is Best
To keep your cheese fresh for as long as possible, cheese bags or cheese paper is the best way to store it. It's porous, so it protects the cheese from air exposure while still allowing it to breathe. There aren't many manufacturers out there, but it's well worth the investment. It's a two-ply material made of wax-coated paper and a thin porous polyethylene plastic, which allows moisture to wick but not totally escape.
4. Wax or Parchment Paper Works Too
If you can't find or don't want to buy cheese paper, wrap it in wax or parchment paper, then put it in a partially sealed plastic bag. The paper creates a barrier between the cheese and the plastic, while the plastic keeps it from getting dry. If it's pre-sliced, you can wrap the slices in paper and put them back in the original unclosed bag. You can also surround the wax or parchment paper with aluminium foil, if you want to stray completely away from plastic.
5. Replace the Paper Every Time You Unwrap
For cheese that sweats a lot, you should replace the cheese, wax or parchment paper every time you unwrap it. Reused materials won't give you the same breathable seal that you had before, so start fresh for longer-lasting results.
6. Soft and Fresh Cheeses Are Different
Soft cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta and Camembert are much fresher than their aged counterparts and can spoil very quickly if they don't have any added preservatives. For the most part, these cheeses should be kept sealed in their original containers.
7. Replace the Brine if it Gets Funky
Some people advocate changing the packing solution on fresh cheeses every few days, but that's necessary only if it's been contaminated. As long as you use clean utensils, the solution shouldn't need to be changed.
8. Save the Date
Before you put it in the fridge, label your cheese with the type and the date you wrapped it. Cheese is best when it's fresh, so dating it helps to remind you how long it's been in there.
9. Only Buy a Little at a Time
Try to buy cheese in small quantities so that you have to store it only for a few days. Yes, that means buying it more often, but it's worth it because cheese tastes much fresher when you first buy it. In a perfect world, you should only be purchasing as much cheese as you can consume in one or two sittings. Plus, this way you can't forget about it and let it go to waste.
10. Keep it in the Vegetable Drawer
Ideally, cheese should be kept between 2–7°C (35–45°F). Freezing can cause the texture to degrade, so the best place to store cheese is as far from the freezer as possible. Keep it in the vegetable drawer or on a bottom shelf in the fridge where the temperature is consistent but not too cold.
11. Use Oil to Prevent Moulding
If you want to forgo the plastic altogether, you can rub the cut faces of the cheese with a light coating of olive, canola or another vegetable oil, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. If any mould starts to grow, it will be on the oil, not the cheese itself. Then you can just wipe it off with a kitchen towel and rinse under lukewarm water.
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