CHEESE CARE 101
Cheese is a wonderfully complex food, and each type of cheese has specific needs to keep it fresh and delicious after you've taken it home from the cheese counter here at Partake. We want to make sure you have the best experience possible with all of the products we offer, so we hope this will help you maintain the quality of the cheese in your fridge.
There are seven basic types of cheeses.
Aged cheeses are packed into molds and pressed tightly, then aged for often upwards of 5 months. Because of this, they have a lower moisture content than other types of cheese.
You've Heard Of: Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano,
Similar to hard aged cheeses, but not aged for quite as long.
You've Heard Of: Provolone, Gouda, Fontina.
Semi-soft cheeses are pressed and aged, but for short periods of time maintaining a higher moisture content.
You've Heard Of: Manchego, Havarti, Meunster.
Blue cheese is very similar to semi-soft cheeses, but is injected with particular strains of mold while aging.
You've Heard Of: Roquefort, Stilton.
Aged for very short periods of time, and often in very small wheels or rounds, these delicate cheeses have a short shelf life.
You've Heard Of: Brie, Camembert, Triple Cream.
Some fresh cheeses are brined or marinated for a period of time, usually for flavor purposes.
You've Heard Of: Feta, Mozzarella.
These tasty treats are ready for eating immediately after being made, and often have a very short shelf life.
You've Heard Of: Chevre, ricotta, curds.
Cheese is a wonderful blend of science and creativity, yet often ends up spoiling in people's fridges. How many times have you opened a plastic bag with your cheese in it, only to find it covered in mold? Something quite a few people don't realize, is that cheese needs to breathe. Cheese enjoys a cool, stable environment, and simply tossing it into a plastic bag will not suffice.
All of the cheese from our shop comes wrapped in special cheese paper, and we suggest you continue to re-use this until the cheese has been consumed! The paper is also available for purchase in our shop. When wrapping at home without the specialty paper, we suggest the following:
For hard, semi-hard, and semi-soft cheeses, wrap in wax paper or parchment paper. Many of these cheeses will 'ooze' very lightly, which is a natural process, and the wax/parchment paper will help wick this off the cheese and serve as a protective layer. It is always best if you can double-wrap your cheese, with parchment paper on the inside and wax on the outside to best protect it without smothering it. Unwrap your cheese and check on it every few days, letting it get some fresh air.
For blues, the process is the same as above! However, you'll want to keep your blues in a sealable container away from other cheeses. The blue mold can and will travel to other foods, and while it is completely harmless for human consumption, it will alter flavor. Sticking your blues in a plastic bag or Tupperware container is perfectly acceptable.
For soft ripened cheeses, particularly those that have what are referred to as 'bloomy rinds', wrapping these cheeses in plastic wrap will very quickly kill off the necessary bacteria that protects the cheese. For these little cheeses, they will do best in a resealable plastic container, and opened/turned over every other day.
For aged soft and fresh cheeses, their shelf life is often short enough that you'll consume them long before you need to worry much about storage. Generally, you can simply keep them in whatever container they were purchased in. Plastic containers and plastic bags are perfectly acceptable. Some mozzarellas or Fetas arrive in liquid; this is a brine, and it will quickly sour if you are leaving it in your fridge. The cheese itself simply needs fresh water every four or five days and it will maintain its health much longer.
Avoid plastic wrap! Unless the cheese has been vacuum sealed, plastic suffocates cheese and results in poor flavor and potentially even harmful bacteria. It will also shorten the lifespan of your cheese.
Don't be scared of mold! Mold is a very natural part of the cheese aging process, and in some cases is necessary. If you see mold on your cheese, don't toss it just yet. Your first step is to simply cut the mold away. Once you remove the mold, unless your cheese has taken on an 'off smell' you're good to go.
Don't freeze your cheese! It can be tempting to toss some vacuum sealed cheeses into the freezer after a big sale, but the freezing process will permanently alter the flavor and texture of the cheese. If you're only using it for cooking, then you're just fine to freeze, but any cheese whose intended flavor and texture you wish to preserve needs to stay in your refrigerator.
That's really all there is to it! If you follow these tips, you'll find your cheese will live a much longer, happier life in your fridge and your taste buds will reap the reward. Uncertain about a cheese you have? Feel free to give us a call! We're happy to ask.