Have you ever bought a beautiful wedge of cheese, wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it in the fridge, only to come back a week later to discover it has gotten dry, crumbly, and tastes like plastic? Such a disappointment, especially when you were looking forward to enjoying the cheese and may have spent a pretty penny on it. We are here to help! Here are some tips to help you keep your living, breathing, sweating cheese in its happy place before you eat it and go to your happy place 😊
1.) Don’t overbuy– Only buy as much cheese as you can eat in a week. Otherwise you are at risk of regretfully having to throw out the less than fresh leftovers. It means you may shop a little more frequently, but its worth the trouble since cheese tastes best fresh.
2.) Preventing mold– you can rub the cut surfaces of cheese with olive oil or vegetable oil to help prevent mold. If mold does grow, it will grow on the oil, which can be wiped off and the cheese rinsed under warm water.
3.) Eat cheese at room temperature– it will taste better this way! Unwrap the cheese and allow it to breathe out of the fridge for one hour before serving.
4.) Consider using cheese paper– yes, that paper you’ve passed by many times at the local market, wondering if you should try it; but, nah… it’s a little pricey. They also make cheese storage bags made from the same “formaticum”- a two-ply material consisting of a wax-coated paper and a thin porous polyethylene plastic that allows moisture to wick but not totally escape. Your cheese needs to breathe and it needs moisture to avoid drying out. I have personally tried these papers and I have to admit, I love them! Especially for specialty cheeses that I bring home from my travels, it keeps them from taking on a plastic flavor. Be sure to date the cheese on the label of the paper or bag. As an alternative to purchasing cheese paper, you can instead first wrap the cheese in wax or parchment paper, then place it in a partially sealed plastic bag. Be sure to use a new paper each time you unwrap the cheese and re-wrap to store it. This is because the cheese will sweat on the paper, decreasing its wicking ability.
5.) Store cheese in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator. This area tends to maintain a more stable cold temperature.
If you happen to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area, and want to try some cheeses from around the world, check out the Scardello Cheese shop located on Oak Lawn Avenue (they also have a smaller location in the Dallas Farmer’s market). This delightful shop features an impressive selection of both domestic and imported cheeses, as well as wine that you may order by the glass or purchase as a bottle to take away. They let you try samples of the cheeses, and offer a delicious and imaginative lunch menu. I love this place for a girls lunch; it is quiet and intimate so you can catch up without having to shout across the table. Oh, and yes, they carry cheese paper! My favorite cheese recently purchased there was their L’Amuse Gouda. I asked for something with some nuttiness to it, and this delivered with an amazing slightly crunchy texture, a hint of butterscotch, and smooth finish. Have you ever wondered what makes some aged cheeses have a little bit of crunch or tiny white crystals in them? Lance, the cheesemonger at Scardello explained to me that these crystals are actually either tyrosine or calcium lactate crystals (aged Gouda has both). Cheese crystals form when protein chains in aging cheese begin to break down. Many people confuse cheese crystals with mold or yeast growth. However, crystals are not harmful and in fact add a little extra crunch and complexity to the cheese flavor. Scardello Cheese also offers cheese classes, a cheese club with monthly deliveries to your home, and cheese trays for your next get together. So grab your favorite bottle of wine and find an excuse to host a wine & cheese night ASAP. Cheers!