It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes we end up with left over cheese. It’s most convenient to just wrap it up in glad wrap, pop it in the fridge, until you next need it, until you realise it’s dry, cracked, growing mould and smelling a little iffy.
Check out these nifty tips on keeping your artisan cheese fresh for longer.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When selecting cheeses always check the best before label to assess the age and determine wether or not the cheese requires consuming immediately or can linger in the fridge for a few weeks. If you are looking for cheeses to eat immediately look for the shortest best before, this date is a suggested indicator on when the cheese is most likely to have reached its optimum ripeness. Remember best before dates are not use by dates.
If buying cheese that is cut from a larger wheel, always seek the advice from your cheesemonger on the longevity of the slice. As a rule of thumb, hard cheeses keep longer than soft and fresh cheeses. The bigger the wedge the better it will hold up and retain moisture.
Checking the texture of cheese can also suggest when a cheese is ripe, over-ripe or too young. When soft cheeses are firm to touch, they are more than likely too young for eating. To find out if your soft cheeses are ripe, preform the ‘squeeze test’. As cheeses ripen, bacteria break down the proteins, altering the flavour and texture of the final cheese. By gently pushing down in the centre of the cheese, you can assess wether or not it is ripe.
Needless to say cheese is a perishable product and requires refrigeration.
Generally speaking your cheese will stand the journey from store to home, however if travelling far, or on hot summer days ensure you keep your cheese cold in a cooler bag or packed with an ice brick.
Once home, cheese can be stored perfectly in the refrigerator. Harder cheeses such as Cheddars, Gouda or Parmesans will sit nicely on any shelf with temperatures between 5-8C, however soft and fresh cheeses are best kept in the salad drawer where they thrive best in the moderately humid environment.
Where possible always keep your cheese in its original packaging when storing.
When storing soft cheese or semi-hard cheeses, always allow the cheese to breath. In most cases your cheese will already come wrapped in a breathable, porous cheese paper which allows the cheese to expel moisture. Wrapping soft cheeses in plastic wrap will only suffocate the cheese, trapping moisture on the surface and destroying the flavour.
Harder cheeses dry out much quicker when stored in the refrigerator. Wrapping them tightly in cheese paper, wax paper or a in a ziplock bag will protect any moisture from escaping.
Always ensure you refresh your cheese wrap each time you open it.
To prevent cross contamination between your cheeses and other foods, always store separately and in Tupperware containers.
GOOD MOULD OR BAD MOULD
Not all mould is bad mould, as in most cases, rather the natural development of cheese. In many cases scraping the mould from the surface of the cheese is all that’s required; mould growth on hard cheese is less likely to penetrate the centre of the cheese so can easily be cut off where as mould growth on softer cheeses can sometimes be harmful. Always seek advise from where you purchased your cheese if unsure.