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Best way to store cheese?

  • j

Hello Chowhounds,

What's the best way to store semi-soft cheeses like provolone, monterey jack, etc?

Since I dont use these cheeses all the time, I find it difficult to finish them off within two weeks -- even the smallest package that I buy lasts a few weeks.

Currently I put them in zip-loc bags and put them put them in the covered shelf of the refrigerator.

Even then they only seem to last 2-3 weeks at the max. After that, they start getting moldy patches.

Have also tried wrapping them in saran wrap, with the same effect.

Is there a better way to store them?

Thanks so much in advance.

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  1. Here's a link to your answer, by cheese authority Steve Jenkins, author of THE CHEESE PRIMER.

    Under the "why do you think they call it cheese cloth" category, I use the following method for storing hard cheeses, such as parmesan. Cut a square of cheesecloth big enough to wrap your piece of cheese in. Rinse it under running water and then squeeze out most of the moisture. Wrap the parmesan in the damp cheesecloth, and then wrap in a piece of aluminum foil. Stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, it will stay perfectly moist and "gratable" for months.

    Link: http://www.splendidtable.org/souptonu...

    1. w
      wow i'm a dog

      I saw a great episode of Cooking Live on FoodTV with Laura Werlin, food journalist/cookbook author. She had some great recommendations on not only storing, but selecting, cheeses. Don't quote me, but I think she said you can store hard cheeses in parchment paper, but you should never use plastic wrap. Anyway, a link to her book is below. It looks good - has anyone read it yet?

      Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

      1 Reply
      1. re: wow i'm a dog

        Bought it right after it came out. Great book! Goes through an intro to cheese (not Steve Jenkins depth but a nice read) , then goes through all of the American producers giving all demographic and logistic info with a recipe from each.

      2. My husband, the professional cheesemonger, tells his customers to wash their hands before opening the package, then wrap in waxed paper and put in a ziploc baggie (you can leave the baggie open at the corner so the cheese can breathe). You should change the waxed paper each time you use the cheese or every couple of days.

        This IS the way I store semi-soft cheeses at home, and they last a couple of weeks. Semi-soft cheeses aren't even meant to last longer than 2 weeks or so, so if you're keeping them that long, you're doing all right!

        Ideally, you would get your cheese at a cheese counter where you can get it cut to order, and therefore not have to throw away the waste!

        2 Replies
        1. re: LisaPizza

          What about fresh mozerella? How long can you store it in water in the fridge? How often should you change the water? Is tap water ok?

          1. re: Val G

            From the cheesemonger:

            - Well, the word here is "fresh". Like all other fresh/soft cheeses, they are meant to be eaten shortly after production. I wouldn't keep or expect that the cheese would last longer than two weeks, and even then that's with special care. By this I mean rinsing the cheese before placing in an air tight container and covering it with a brine (water and salt solution) and changing the brine every three to four days. -

            Tap water is okay, but if you don't want to use it, don't! We always use filtered water/bottled water.

        2. Unless you're going to give it away, the best way to store cheese is to eat it, or, sell it.

          1. Even storing it the way you are currently, it doesn't sound like you're doing too badly. I use plastic wrap (as we did at the cheese shop I worked in), and if a provolone or monterey jack starts to mold a bit, it's fine to just scrape or cut it off-the rest of the cheese is just fine. Cheesecloth or parchment paper and foil, changed regularly is more "expertly" appropriate, but I think plastic wrap is easier and I don't have many problems with my cheese.

            1. i haven't read all of the responses to this question, but my first thought is to find a really nice grocery store with a cheese man (or woman) (i'm sure there's a proper title for this person...) and request only as much cheese as you can eat in two or three days. this way, you don't get sick of any particular cheese, and you can enjoy it while its fresh without feeling rushed to eat it all. I'm not sure how much more expensive this option would be, though this should hopefully save you money wasted on thrown out food.

              another suggestion, have friends over for cheese and crackers if you find yourself unable to buy 'just the right amount'

              1. For optimal storage, keep your cheeses wrapped in the paper or packaging in which they were delivered. Our paper is specially designed to allow the cheeses to breathe and retain moisture.

                The best place to store your cheese is in a cool, damp place such as a wine cellar, larder or wine cabinet, otherwise in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

                Try to consume your cheeses within days of receiving them so that you can enjoy them at peak flavor, particularly the softer types. If properly stored, most cheeses will last several weeks. As a general rule, aged hard cheeses last longer than softer, fresher types.

                Rewrap left over cheese in the paper or packaging it came in and store as aforementioned.

                If you have thrown away your paper or packaging or if it has been torn, follow these guidelines:
                - Bloomy rind cheeses, tommes and cheeses with harder and drier rinds, wrap only the cut surface in light weight plastic, leaving the rind exposed so the cheese can breathe.
                - Blue cheeses should be wrapped securely in foil.
                - Washed rind cheeses should be wrapped in wax paper or grease proof paper.
                - Small cheeses, a goat's milk crottin, for example, should also be wrapped in wax paper or grease proof paper.
                - Soft cheeses store well in waxed paper or sealed containers.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CelticWarrior


                  In the freezer. Except for cream cheese, I've never ever had a problem with any cheese that I've frozen.

                  Even cream cheese, which gets icky on defrosting, is fine when mixed into a recipe.

                2. I leave semi-soft cheeses unwrapped on a small plate in the ref. They dehydrate and harden, but never spoil; and flavor actually intensifies. I actually make a decent grating cheese by leaving a local mozz unwrapped in the ref for a month.

                  1. Revived after 6-1/2 years - does this qualify as the oldest reincarnated thread of 2008?

                    A friend who worked at Formaggio (local high-end cheese shop) said they always used plastic wrap, and pulled a fresh piece every time the cheese was opened. That was for in-shop storage, but I use the same technique at home, and on the rare occasion that a cheese starts to get moldy before it's finished, I just cut off the moldy bits and re-wrap it.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BobB

                      I would think that Formaggio's high turnover allows for a plastic wrap usage (God, I love that store!). But it doesn't really allow for the cheese to breath (and I don't think they use plastic wrap in the Huron Village store). But I've always tried to use parchment paper or waxed paper to wrap cheeses at home.

                      But like you, if a cheese begins to mold over on the edges, I just cut it off and re-wrap it if I'm not using it.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        I wrapped a Oaxaca cheese in waxed paper and forgot it in the ref. It turned into a beautiful and delicious blue - with nice blue - green - grey veins. I really enjoyed it.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          I had an eerily parallel experience, but a different result, with a pint of chicken livers.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Remind me to ask for the provenance of your dinner menu items should I ever venture south.....

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Jackass! How dare you disrespect my transcendental cheese and compare it to something you might have contaminated a la Portnoy?

                      2. Anybody else use one of those old glass cheese preservers? I have two and both have the directions written in raised letters. In the bottom place some mixture of salt, water, and vinegar. There are raised parts that keep the cheese from touching the liquid. I've found that it works for the most part. Refrigerated, of course. You can find these on eBay. I've not seen a new one. Think they're not made anymore.

                        1. I use cheese paper for everything but blue cheese which gets wrapped in foil. It seems to be working pretty well.

                          1. Around our house soft cheese never lasts two weeks.
                            Nevertheless, our fromagerie wraps cheese in a special two-layer paper, the inside looks like it's a cross between plastic and waxed paper--so I just leave it in the original wrapping.

                            1. Drink more and your cheese storage issues will just go away! Here I am with an old fashioned and....drum roll....cheese!