All About Cheese Storage

Posted by Mark Goldman on

At its prime ripeness, living cheese is a perfect but fragile balance of aroma, taste, texture and appearance.  Proper handling and storage can mean the difference between vibrant, delicious, living cheese and dead, ammoniated, spoiled cheese.

Some Helpful Information about Cheese

Cheese is the result of the slow interaction between milk solids (protein), micro-fauna that exist in raw milk, molds or cultures that are introduced by the cheesemaker (or the affineur) and the environment in which the cheese is matured and/or aged.  Some types of cheese -- in full, uncut wheels – can age for many years while their flavor, aroma and texture improve over time.  However, not all cheeses improve with age.  Once a wheel is cut and the rind is broken, the cheese begins to deteriorate, and small pieces of cheese have an even shorter lifespan than large wheels. That does not necessarily mean cheese will spoil immediately.  But unless properly handled and stored, the cheese can quickly lose its distinctive taste, texture and appearance.

General Tips

There are many types of cheeses and no single way to store all types.  However, there are general rules than can greatly reduce premature spoilage.  We have compiled a few tips that should help keep your cheese alive and tasting scrumptious.  

Do not wrap cheese in conventional non-porous materials. Cheese needs to breathe.
The delicate flavor balance achieved by the cheesemaker requires oxygen exchange and storage at the proper humidity.  Non-porous materials suffocate cheese, causing the dreaded ammonia flavor (particularly in soft cheeses). Non-porous materials also trap too much moisture within, accelerating the growth of invasive surface molds.

Never underestimate the value of an experienced cheesemonger.
Ask your cheesemonger to suggest cheeses in season and at their prime.  Always taste before you buy; cheese that has been cut to order is always the freshest (and tastiest!) option. For the best possible flavor, try to avoid plastic-wrapped, pre-cut pieces.

Be mindful of the “cut & packaged date” printed on pre-cut cheese.
If this is how you buy your cheese, always make sure the cut date is within a day of purchase.  When you get home, rescue your cheese from plastic suffocation and rewrap in Formaticum Cheese Paper.

Use Formaticum Cheese Paper to wrap and store cheese.
Cheese requires high humidity, yet must be able to breathe.  Formaticum Cheese Paper is a two-ply material designed to maintain optimal humidity, while not allowing water to accumulate--thus preventing the growth of surface molds.  Formaticum Cheese Paper’s two-ply material allows oxygen exchange.  Wax paper, tin foil and plastic wrap are unsuitable for wrapping cheese because they neither regulate humidity nor allow oxygen exchange.  Cheeses wrapped in these materials are prone to drying out, growing surface molds and other spoilage.  In other words, not using cheese paper will make your cheese taste bad.

Cutting Tips

Cutting soft cheese while is cold will be cleaner and will make it easier to move the cheese to the serving dish.  Harder cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Gouda are much easier to cut at room temperature.  For hard cheese, a sharp cheese knife with an offset handle is the professional utensil of choice.  For soft cheese a cheese harp, wire or Roquefort bow will ensure clean cuts without deforming shape.  Always use clean tools to prevent the introduction of new molds or bacteria.

Store each cheese individually.
Only wrap one kind of cheese in each piece of Formaticum Cheese Paper. Never wrap several cheeses together. Their flavors will interact and none of them will taste as good as they should.

Label cheese and note the date of purchase
Use Formaticum Cheese Labels to ensure your cheese is securely wrapped in Formaticum Cheese Paper. Our cheese labels can be used to easily identify your cheese and keep track of when they were purchased.

Consider using a Cheese Dome.
Cheese domes are a great way to store cheese.  They’re washable, reusable, and durable.  Cheese stored under a dome creates its own climate, ensuring proper humidity every time.  White mold or soft ripened cheeses and washed rind cheeses are ideal when stored unwrapped under a cheese dome.

Keep cheese in the refrigerator and only warm what you will consume in each sitting.
Cheese should ideally be enjoyed at room temperature, but it will last longer in your refrigerator. Drastic temperature changes are not good for your cheese. If you have leftover cheese that has been out for hours, leave this cheese stored under a cheese dome at room temperature and enjoy the next day.  There is nothing better than a soft cheese that has been left out all night on your morning toast! Never freeze cheese.

“Face clean” room temperature cheese before re-wrapping.
Cheeses left out at room temperature may sweat or release oil.  This is perfectly normal.  If you must re-refrigerate cheese that has been left out at room temperature - before rewrapping, “face clean” the cheese by scraping its surface with a non-serrated knife removing any debris or oil from the surface; then wrap securely in Formaticum Cheese Paper.

Check and rewrap cheese periodically.
Do not forget about wrapped cheese in the back of your refrigerator.  Regularly remove stored cheese from the refrigerator, unwrap and inspect it. Eat a bite of cheese every day!  If the paper has become damp or soaked through with oil, rewrap with a new piece of Formaticum Cheese Paper.

Never freeze cheese... and remember, cheese is always best stored in your stomach!

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