How Should I Store My Leftover Cheese?
Cheese is a perishable product, and the flavor and texture do change for the worse if it is not stored properly. I can help!
From the round of Boursin that you unwrap for a cheeseboard, eat half of, and try to re-wrap into the same foil wrapper, to a block of cheddar in the awkward plastic that never forms an airtight barrier after it has been opened the first time (no matter how strategically you cut into it initially), it is frustrating to try and preserve your expensive investment in cheese.
Cheeseboards and charcuterie platters are great ways to serve a lot of people some snacks, but they are a nightmare for cheese storage. A lot of you probably DIY less than ideal cheese storage solutions, but here are tips and products to make sure your DIY is the best that it can be, and that your cheese doesn’t suffer.
The only bad news is that there isn’t (yet) a one size fits all cheese storage solution for you. Different cheeses require different storage due to their distinct properties. Just think of the variety of ways cheese is wrapped when you buy it - some comes from the cheese maker wrapped in paper, some in plastic, and some even coated in wax.
Which Part of the Refrigerator is Best For Cheese?
Some new refrigerators have specific compartments for cheese. If yours does, then this is the best place for your cheese to be stored, and a good second choice is the produce drawer. These closed compartments within a refrigerator maintain a stable temperature and humidity level even when the door is opened.
Can I Freeze Cheese?
Yes and no. Cheese will still be safe to consume after freezing, however the texture will be more crumbly and the flavor will not be as sharp. Harder types of cheese are less affected by freezing, but probably not cheeseboard worthy. Blue cheese and Brie or Camembert will not freeze well as they have a high liquid content, which is affected by the freeze and thaw cycle.
If your choice is between throwing cheese out or freezing it, I definitely recommend freezing, and then just using it for cooking. Depending on the type of cheese, it can be used, among other things, for dips, topping on pasta bakes, or sauces. Use an airtight container, preferably vacuum-sealed to freeze cheese and make sure you use it up within three months.
Can I Eat Cheese If There is Mold On It?
If a hard, medium or semi-soft cheese has some mold spots on it, you can simply cut them off and eat the rest of the cheese. Soft or fresh cheese showing mold should be thrown out as it could have penetrated the cheese.
Of course, many cheeses rely on certain types of mold for their flavor and texture. It is important to learn the difference between mold that should be on the cheese, and mold that shouldn’t be on the cheese. Mold that is grey or black and fuzzy generally should not be there, and shiny, slimy looking pink and yellow spots are also danger signs. Smell and examine the cheese when you buy it, and if there are significant changes over time, it is probably best to ditch it.
My Cheese Came In Plastic - Should I Keep It In Plastic?
Even if you don’t invest in specialty cheese paper, plastic wrap should not be your go-to. When cheese is tightly wrapped in plastic, both native and introduced bacteria growth increases, and the cheese can take on flavor and odor from the wrap. Once of the natural odors from natural cheese bacteria is ammonia and plastic wrap traps this and allows the cheese to also absorb this flavor and smell.
Is Specialty Cheese Storage Paper Worth It?
If you are an avid cheese consumer with a discerning palate, you will definitely appreciate this top quality solution. It maintains the correct moisture level while allowing the cheese to breathe, which means that air can pass through the paper, but it retains some humidity without sweating.
Solution One: Cheese Paper & Glass or Plastic Container
Alternatively, some soft cheese is sold in a cheese paper wrapping. Whenever possible, continue using this paper from the cheese-maker to re-wrap the cheese. As the paper will never seal as well after the first opening, put the paper wrapped cheese into a large glass or plastic container. This controls the humidity as well as stops your fridge smelling like blue cheese. The most important step is to add a sugar cube to the corner of the container. The sugar cube will absorb some of the moisture so the container doesn’t get sweaty.
I don’t recommend using a container without first wrapping the cheese with cheese paper as it doesn’t minimize airflow enough to stop the cheese drying out. In a pinch, you could also use a large freezer bag with a sugar cube instead of a container.
Solution Two: Wax or Parchment Paper & Unsealed Plastic Bag
A pretty common solution for wrapping medium to hard cheeses is wax or parchment paper. Overall, this is a good first layer of defense as it still allows air to circulate and some moisture to escape. Once the cheese is wrapped in paper, you should then put it in an unsealed plastic bag or loosely wrap it with plastic wrap. This layer of plastic will control the humidity as it allows some moisture to escape while retaining some, hopefully creating the perfect balance so your cheese will neither sweat nor dry out.
Solution Three: Brined Cheese
Soft fresh cheeses in brine can go bad quite quickly if they’re not stored properly. You can keep them in the original brine, or re-brine them using about 2tsp of salt in a liter of water if the original has gone cloudy or smells funky. Leave the water out for 24 hours or boil it so it de-chlorinates, and make sure to use non-iodized salt. Some cheeses will come in non-salted water, and some will have a higher concentration than noted above – you can taste the piqued to double check that you use the liquid similar to what it came in.