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Cheese for a Flight

I want to make up a cheese plate to take with me on an upcoming flight. This will be domestic US and eaten in flight, so not worried about importing stuff. What cheeses, say 3-5, that I could pick up at a market or smaller cheese shop (so, another words common cheeses) do you think would make good choices? That means ones that will hold well without refrigeration in a ziplock bag or plastic container, that won't smell (and disturb other passengers), and be easy to cut. Aged Gouda will definitely be in the mix.

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  1. First of all, cheese is not really meant to be served out of the refrigerator. It should be removed to come to room temperature (usually at least 1 hour) before consuming. and none of it will spoil (most cheese doesn't spoil, anyway) before you can eat it.

    What you should choose depends upon what you like to eat. My choices might not suit you at all. So you should say what you have in mind, and anyone who wants to then has some basis for comment.

    1. Since you may not bring a knife with carry-on, something too hard might be a problem, unless you slice it in advance. So maybe lean towards softer types, like a brie or talleggio or sweet gorgonzola (which does have the smell issue), or how about Philadelphia cream cheese :-)

      7 Replies
      1. re: MagicMarkR

        Blues, goudas and cheddars will be fine and they travel well at room temp. A ripe taleggio can be aromatic. No epoisses or limburger! I enjoy the stinky cheeses only in the privacy of my home.

        1. re: MagicMarkR

          That may have been solved on another forum - Dental Floss! Works like a cheese wire. Obviously cant be super hard, but will work with firmer cheeses, which is what I tend to steer towards.

          I am really, REALLY concerned about the smell, because that gets commented on so very often in travel forums. I am worried not so much about spoilage as I am about condition, as a ziplock bag of cheese sitting in a hot briefcase for 4 hours before I get around to eating it doesn't sound so appealing.

          I tend to lean towards firmer cheeses. I will definitely have an aged Gouda in there. While I like Stilton, it would be too strong a smell. I am not a big cheddar fan. Might try some Comte if the market has some.

          1. re: cloudship

            Dental floss is the best way to slice logs of goat cheese; works better than a knife.

            1. re: masha

              What if someone's going fishing though...lol?

          2. re: MagicMarkR

            I am pretty sure you can bring a plastic knife through security; I always have a few plastic spoons and forks in my purse when I travel as they come in handy for impromptu picnics and I've never been challenged on it. Alternately, you can get plastic implements at food places inside security at the airport.

            1. re: masha

              Good points. Plus the flight attendants will likely be glad to give you one.

              1. re: c oliver

                Some of them are great/kind while others aren't.

          3. Also remember if you bring a non hard cheese, as an Epoisses or soft blue, you may have difficulty getting them through TSA, would be xrayed and viewed as an emulsion as peanut butter or preserves and are not allowed in carryon.
            Stick with things like Istara a Basque sheep, the aged Gouda you mentioned, Cheddars, and firm aged goats and all should be good.

            50 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Yes, a hard sheep's milk cheese like Istara or P'tit Basque or a manchego would be a good choice, as would be a good cheddar. So:

              Aged gouda
              Hard sheep
              Cheddar
              Blue
              If you want a fifth, something flavored

              I've never heard of anyone having trouble with soft cheeses and the TSA, although they've always told me I can't bring through yogurt.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Yeah, it would (& probably should) be hard to get it through. It's just like any other food or drink for travel. On my last flight for example I really enjoyed this one Olive Oil mix that I got at a Greek Restaurant & wanted to take some back home with me as a great snack with Pita Bread. Despite it only being in a basic plastic bottle & in no way containing alcohol, it was denied. When you really think about it, practically anything can be mixed in/with basic food & drink containers & that's why they do it, ya see? Drugs can be mixed in/with food & alcohol & other substances can be mixed in the drinks so they DO have their reasons unfortunately. They just can't trust anybody nowadays. Keep this in mind during travel.

                1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                  I fly enough to have a grasp on what will make it through and what wont. Gels and Liquids are the challenge - so soft cheese depending upon the consistency and TSA staff at the time might be harder, but firmer cheeses wont have a problem, at least not in the US.

                  The reason you cant get your yogurt through is the size and being out of the bag. You can put small containers - those little plastic condiment cups you get from fast food places, for instance, in your 3-1-1 bag if you have room. That should clear.

                  1. re: cloudship

                    I remember bringing on some Bagels (about 2-3) in their normal bag coming inside my "personal bag" & that worked alright because they couldn't directly see it & had no need to search because everything else I had in there was fine. If it happened that they had to search you for ANYTHING though, it would definitely be taken by them. Bottles can easily be felt & seen (especially those large ones) & cans or visible things are very easy for them to detect. It's all a risk, but don't be surprised or upset if they happen to take something from you. Even though you'd hate to admit it, it really is ALWAYS your own damn fault, ya know?

                    1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                      Every time we go to NYC we bring back two dozen bagels to CA. Solid food is not a problem. Liquids are not a problem unless a single container is more then 3oz. Even alcohol is not a problem (you can carry it on but not 'allowed' to drink it). And when they xrayed your carryon bag they saw those bagels and didn't give a rip.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        They didn't see my Bagels though. They were placed inside & towards the bottom. They're quite soft, yet I wouldn't have put them in my pocket. Obviously you have to completely empty your pockets anyways. It's like you are going swimming the way the make you undress nowadays. the only difference is that you have a shirt & socks on.

                        1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                          But the point is they wouldn't have cared!!!!!! It's a solid food. They are looking for things that could, when combined, make an explosive device. They don't give a shit about anybody's bagels :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            People can (& do) put things like drugs in foods like Bagels, Muffins, Chocolates, Breads, etc... Not every place is the same, but it is indeed true that different processes & people can be changed from day to day. I'm not saying that it always DOES happen, I'm just saying that it CAN happen, ya see? No need to argue about this though. If they/you wanna try carrying something, then give it a shot & see what happens.

                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                              What food items have you had confiscated?

                              1. re: Hobbert

                                I don't really carry foods on often if at all. My specialty Olive Oil was confiscated last year though & I was a bit disappointed about that. I knew the risks, yet I probably should've hid it a little better. I could've took a small weekly amount sample of that Olive Oil with me probably, but it was just too good to take so little. Who's to say that they wouldn't have even found & confiscated that either though. Oh well. I'll be back for more!

                                1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                  Uh...liquids over 3 ounces in a carry on get confiscated. Just put larger liquids in your checked bags and you're fine. I've never heard of food getting taken from anyone I know. Foods with a gel-like consistence wouldn't fly but I've never had an issue with nuts, granola, fruit, etc.

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    I would hate to have even Pop spill on my Clothes like that, let alone that stuff.

                                    1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                      That's why you bring a wine bag. I've carried liquids back from all over the world. Never had a problem.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        We just pack them in underwear :) One bottle to a suitcase. Just brought back two Hungarian wines that we enjoyed while there last week. Have never had anything break.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Things can spill without breaking though, ya see? Cap loosening amongst other things will surely do it.

                                          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                            A screwtop that's never been open isn't going to loosen and a cork with foil on isn't going to come loose. We've been doing this for about 20 years. What's your experience?

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Well, I definitely wasn't bringing any Wine on & I didn't cork it either. I mean, who's to say you'd have/get the right size cork anyways, especially if a different type of bottle is being used, right? Besides, I don't mess around much. I take it direct, adventurously & quick. On to the next one...

                                            2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                              Until about 10 years ago, Havana Club rum had a flimsy aluminum screw cap. I frequently brought a few bottles back in my dive bag, nestled sideways among dive gear. Some of them leaked horribly and my dive bag reeked of rum. They now use a reliable plastic cap.

                                            3. re: c oliver

                                              Oh lord, I hope the undies are clean ;) I've never had an issue, either, but those wine bags are cheap enough that I throw one in my suitcase and don't worry about stuff oozing all over my clothes.

                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                Something like this?

                                                http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Bottle-B...

                                                I 'need' a few more dollars :) for an Amazon free shipping buy so this might do the trick.

                                                Do you return from a trip with clean undies?!?!? :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Haha yes, because I have a pathological fear of running out of underwear- I pack at least 25 pairs for a week long trip. But that's a different sort of thread!

                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                    Hopefully you're washing those that you're using though!

                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                    Wear the clothing you'll need on your way back home...lol.

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  "We just pack them in underwear :) One bottle to a suitcase. Just brought back two Hungarian wines that we enjoyed while there last week."

                                                  C., I would like to hear more about that. No, not more about your underwear (please keep that to yourself) but more about the Hungarian wines. I love Tokaj, for example.

                                                3. re: Hobbert

                                                  Gallon freezer bags. Always keep a few in your suitcase. I've brought back all kinds of liquids in my checked bags in plastic bags between several layers of clothes.

                                        2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                          Again, the TSA isn't interested in drugs. See those dogs? They're sniffing for drugs. We fly probably a dozen times a year and I'm guessing carry some kind of food 100% of the time. And since domestic flights charge for food, so do many, many others. Including all the things you mention and more.

                                          And if you tried to bring home more than 3oz. of olive oil then that truly befuddles me. OO is one of my favorite things to bring from Europe so it's pretty rare that I don't bring some home. But it's always in my checked bags.

                                          In case you're looking for future inspiration, here's a sandwich I made a while back.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/963169

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            There are 2 undesirable needs/ways of getting certain things in without them checking too much. 1st off, I'd hate to spend the extra $50 for a bigger bag. After that, don't you know that they charge a hell of a lot for foods/drinks inside their area while waiting for your trip? They make & charge much more than a normal place would. In other words, why in the world would anyone want to deal with that kind of expense & inconvenience, right? I'm "inspired" to do it my way, not theirs!

                                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                              Er, what IS YOUR way? I carry on meals regularly unless it's an international trip. I do it primarily cause I can make better than they sell and secondarily cause what they sell is awfully expensive. So do you at least understand that carrying on non-liquid food is fine?

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                If they let you get by, then & only then, it will be fine. Otherwise you take the loss.

                                                1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                  As I say, I openly carry on all types of food, both to eat on the plane or at my destination. People walk onto planes carrying boxes from Pizza Hut and other spots post-security. Why is it that you think that this is or ever has been a problem? I've done it pre and post 9/11. Would you PLEASE explain why you think this is a problem? What have you experienced or seen happen?

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    They don't always take stuff, but they do on occasion. You've just gotta admit that there's no denying that. They can take or do just about whatever they wanted especially after that disgusting tragedy. Like I said, I rarely take things on, but whether I or someone else does it & they can see it, it will most likely be checked to say the least. I don't work for them, but I have seen how things work. I just take it direct, quickly & all in stride. On to the next on...

                                                    1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                      'They don't always take stuff, but they do on occasion. "

                                                      No, they don't. Ever.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        I already said that you can't always get by & that it's up to them. I don't think that that's too hard to understand there, fella.

                                                        1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                          And you base this on what? You CAN always get by with any solid food. Always. Domestic and international. Into and out of the US. No exceptions.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            "You CAN always get by with any solid food. Always. Domestic and international. Into and out of the US. No exceptions."

                                                            Hi C., Am I misunderstanding your reply? I know from experience that one cannot legally, for example, bring certain cheese and sausage items from South America or Europe into the USA. And that policy was both pre and post Foot and Mouth issues or 9/11.

                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                              I was trying to keep it simple and obviously OVERsimplified. I'm talking strictly security issues not customs. You're quite correct. I never try to bring anything into the US (esp. CA) without checking the rules for the specific country and food. To further muddy the waters, there are foods you can take on a place, consume on the plane but not bring into a country (US or non-US). Fruit is the first thing that comes to my mind. SUYR seems quite confused by this so I hope I haven't confused him/her any further :)

                                            2. re: c oliver

                                              People are confusing the TSA -- which only cares about safety, i.e. weapons or things that could be made into weapons, and only cares about what's in your carry on -- and Customs, which cares about contraband (things that cannot legally be brought into the US, everything from drugs to some food stuffs) anywhere in their luggage.

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            Agreed, the TSA won't stop you from carrying bagels or other solid food. I bring bagels back from my mother's occasionally as she lives closer to a decent bagel bakery than we do. I also bring her homemade food gifts like cake, wrapped in foil and then placed inside a plastic container (so it will not get crushed). The scanner sometimes asks what it is but they've always waved me through once I've explained and/ or they've opened the package.

                                        1. re: melpy

                                          Yes, please. WHY????? Maybe non-NYC bagels cause they suck :)

                                          1. re: melpy

                                            If you ask they'll probably cuff you...lol.

                                        2. re: cloudship

                                          We are going way off topic here, but I guess as a frequent flyer myself, I understand this is an issue.

                                          First, to clarify, we are talking here about domestic US flights. There are a few differences in other countries, but we are going to be clearing security here in the US.

                                          TSA is concerned with safety, not drug smuggling. That they leave up to other agencies. The concern is with liquids and liquid like solid substances (a.k.a. gels), that pose a security risk. They can reduce this risk (note it is not eliminated) by limiting things to small sizes. So, by making you carry liquids or gels in 30z or smaller units, all totaling less than a quart, the risk is reduced. Nothing requires your 3-1-1 bag to be toiletry items.

                                          Airlines wont let you take alcohol on board. Too many regulation risks that way. But anything else they are happy with. A fed passenger is a content passenger.

                                          As for the olive oil, check things like that. They make special bags for those types of items, but you can also get away with a double-lock gallon zip bag or one of those compression storage bags. Do use a bag, though. Not only because the baggage handlers well, mishandle bags, but also there is a pressure drop to about 8K feet in the baggage hold, so a pressurized bottle may leak or even pop the cork. Not likely, but possible.

                                          1. re: cloudship

                                            "Airlines wont let you take alcohol on board". Sure you can take it on board. Put it in 3.4 oz bottles, make sure the bottles are in your quart bag. With some cheese (take a plastic knife) and crackers you can have a nice little cocktail hour ;)

                                            1. re: gourmanda

                                              We carry on the miniature size bottles of alcohol every long'ish trip we take. And, yes, they're in our quart bag.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Those work too, we just prefer the larger size ;) can get 3-4 of them in the bag in addition to toothpaste and eye drops.

                                                1. re: gourmanda

                                                  You've mentioned those before, I believe. Do you just get them in the travel products section of a drug store or such?

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I got them in the travel toiletry section at Target. The have a squirt type cap as you would see on a shampoo bottle.

                                                    1. re: gourmanda

                                                      Thanks. Will check out. I've sometimes taped things like that closed. Do you?

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        I did not. The seal seems very tight. I don't fill them to the very top, leave a little room for expansion. Plus they are in the zip top bag so I don't worry about leaks.

                                                        1. re: gourmanda

                                                          I gotta say that mandating those quart bags for security purposes has changed my travel packing for the better. I have multiples of them in my checked bags.

                                    2. How about Havarti with dill? -- Really nice, no smell, fairly easy to find. And Tillamook sharp cheddar is basic, but really so good, especially if you're taking some crackers along.

                                      1. I'd also guess that hard cheeses, cut in thick-ish, slices, and then tightly wrapped in plastic wrap would be fine and finger food.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Yes, the Harder Cheeses would most likely be easier to deal with in every way.

                                        2. Gruyere would be a lovely selection. Manchego, havarti, Even some pre-shaved parm slices (the good stuff) would be a nice contrast to the other creamier cheeses. Aged Gouda is a given!

                                          If you want to keep it a bit cooler until you are ready to eat, pack it with a frozen juice box. As long as the box is still frozen solid at security, you can take it through (most lines at least, your TSA experience may very), but if they do confiscate it, it's just a juice box. Apple juice should pair nicely. . .

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: autumm

                                            I love all your suggestions. I do question, however, the frozen juice box. Although I've not tried to bring any frozen liquid onto a plane, I thought I'd read here that they were a no-no. But are they under three ounces?

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I've heard that TSA will permit you to take frozen bags of vegetables through -- say corn, or peas. I have never tried it but this apparently works as a means to keep carry-on food chilled.

                                              1. re: masha

                                                Ooh, that makes a lot of sense. I live in a "magic house" so don't get real concerned about getting sick but eating at an optimal temp would be nice. I just wouldn't take anything that I'd be really sorry to lose. Thanks for that tip.

                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                I wouldn't think that they'd let anyone bring on their own frozen liquids. Just think about it. What if someone were to use it as a weapon &/or distraction, right? Definitely no joke there. Ice might be fine though as long as it's not as big as blocks, ya know?

                                                1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                  They do. Breast milk is allowed as are other liquid that are medically required. You should check out TSA's regulations online. They're pretty comprehensive and straight forward.

                                                  1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                    Depends on the security. Technically a no-no, but some let it through. Risk on that one. Better luck with the frozen peas, though I have not tried that one myself.

                                                    In my case, though, my luggage will be sitting in my car ahead of time for several hours. I might use a freezer pack and bag and ditch that at the airport in my car if I drive all the way in this time.

                                                    1. re: cloudship

                                                      My understanding about the frozen vegetable bags as a means of cooling carry-on food is that it originated with commercial ventures selling to-go high-end food products (lobster, crab, beef, etc), where a large component of the customers were out-of-town visitors who wanted to take the products back home. The businesses had previously packed such products in ice but after 2006, when the restrictions on liquids in carry-ons were implemented, they turned to frozen veggies as an alternative.

                                                      1. re: masha

                                                        May have been when they became popular, but it has been used as a trick for a long time as an alternative to melting ice packs.

                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                    No, a standard 6 oz or so. Learned the trick from a nursing/pumping mom who was sick of having TSA take away her ice packs which got expensive for her. So she froze a juice box, and if they wanted it confiscated because it was too defrosted, fine. Breast milk was okay, minute maid apparently not. . . (I don't want to hijack this thread, but that was where I learned about the juice box trick)

                                                  3. re: autumm

                                                    Unless said frozen juice box is in your 1-quart zip-top bag and is 3.4 ounces or less, you can not take it in your carry-on. Cheese lasts a long time out of refrigeration, I wouldn't worry about it.

                                                  4. I thought you meant a flight of cheese, like a flight of wine or beer.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                      Nope. Although, that does bring up ANOTHER idea I have had. How likely do you think you would be to spend $800 a person for a wine and cheese flight with really, really nice views?

                                                    2. Perhaps you should rename your thread "cheese for the plane", in order to avoid the ongoing confusion about what is a well-established culinary term.

                                                      1. @OP, do you have a cheese shop that's convenient to you? If so, I'd ask their advice about what cheeses to bring. You already know about the 'super juicy' ones so they should be able to advise you.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Unfortunately, not local. I have a couple incredibly good ones about an hour and a half away, but won't have time on this flight anyways to stop there. Now that I am back to airline peon though, I expect to be flying in coach on long trips more often, so I will look into it anyways and see what he says.

                                                          Beyond my immediate needs I think this makes a good general topic, as more and more people are, I think, looking to bring their own snacks on board. Maybe we should expand the subject a bit to say what you would take as a cheese plate type of thing with you. Get into the accompaniments?

                                                          1. re: cloudship

                                                            I also am a denizen of 'steerage' so, yeah, get what you can and enjoy!