Cheese is made to be eaten, but what if you make so much that you don’t know what to do with it. You can let it age longer if you like, but what if you want a more subtle flavour in your semi-hard cheese? Well you have come to the right place as this post is how to store cheese!
There are a few ways around this issue. Once your cheese has reached maturity, it is difficult to eat an entire wheel. I know. Trust me, I have tried.
We usually serve up a quarter of the wheel which works out to be about 250 gm (or half a pound) when we have friends over. If we know that we are going to share the rest in a very short time frame, I wrap up the cheese in greaseproof paper, just like the type you can buy for baking. This paper allows the cheese to breathe, and stop it from drying out. I highly recommend that you don’t wrap it in cling wrap (plastic wrap), as the cheese sweats, which spoils the flavour, and it could go mouldy.
Additionally, to stop them from drying out, you should store it in the paper within a sealed container, which helps keep the cheese moist. It should be stored at around 4°C (39°F) to slow down any further maturation.
If you know that you will not be eating your cheese for at least a month, I recommend another method of storage. That would be to vacuum pack the cheese.
I mentioned in my last podcast that I had a Caerphilly in the cheese fridge, and today it was ready to eat. Look at the perfect rind. I washed this cheese with a brine solution every day to stop mould from growing on the outside. It was the best Caerphilly I have ever made!
As you can see, there is far too much cheese for us to eat in one sitting. Luckily Kim (my lovely wife) and I had two friends around to help us eat most of one of the quarters! So it was out with the vacuum machine.
Here it is with the lid down. A few buttons, one to seal, one to vacuum and seal, and a few adjustments for wet and dry contents. All in all, easy enough to use.
This model comes with a roll of the plastic. You seal one side, cut off the size you need, fill it with the cheese, then suck all the air out of the bag.
Here is a bag where I have sealed one side, ready for a quarter of the Caerphilly.
And here is the finished bags. Yes there are lots of plastic, but the cheese is so big that you have to make the bag big enough to suck the air out of it and get a good seal. I then label the cheese with its name, and the maturation date. Note that these ones have todays date, as that is when the cheese was ready to eat. This helps a lot when you have lots of these bags in the fridge!
The cheese can be stored like this for over six months as long as you keep them at 4°C (39°F). In fact, I know home cheese makers that use this method to mature their cheeses instead of waxing them.
I prefer wax because I can’t stand all of the plastic waste that is generated. I usually make the bags a little bit bigger so that I can wash them out and reuse them for other foods once I have consumed the cheese.
So there you have it. A couple of ways to store cheese after you have either bought it from your friendly cheesemonger, or made it all by yourself.
Does anyone have other ways of storing their cheese after it has aged?
I freeze my cheese too, but in large blocks wrapped once in cling wrap and then in a ziplock bag. When it's time to use it, I put it in the fridge (still wrapped and in the ziplock bag) and let it "restabilize" for three days before I start to use it, otherwise I find it crumbles too much to use.
If you're concerned with the amount of plastic, the cling wrap and ziplock bags are reusable.
Hi TechChik. Thanks for the tip about freezing. I have never been game, as there is so much work that goes into getting the cheese to maturity.
Liz Beavis says
Hi Gavin, Its interesting to see what you do. I've just started waxing our cheeses, until recently I used the vacuum sealer to mature the cheese. Only because we didn't have lots of cheese and it is quick and easy. I was just maturing the cheese the normal fridge at that stage, as we didn't have enough cheese to justify turning on the cheese fridge. Now I have the cheese fridge on and full of waxed cheeses 🙂 Anyway, when we open a cheese, I usually grate most of it on the fine side of the grater and put it in a snap-lock bag in the freezer (and reuse the bag until the seal breaks). This way we always have cheese for sprinkling on things like frittata and spaghetti sauce. Our cheese is usually rather strong, so we tend to use it more in cooking than just eating by the slice, although if we do have a really nice cheese for eating, we will keep some to use on crackers.
Hi Liz. It is equally interesting to hear how you store your cheese. We also grate the older Romano wheels when they get a bit dry for shaving and store them in the freezer. The great thing is that the grated cheese does not stick together, and it is great for all Italian style dishes.