I've Been Storing My Cheese All Wrong, According to Experts
Excuse me while I reorganize my whole fridge.
I consider myself a cheese enthusiast. (It's a part of my Instagram profile, so it must be true, right?) I can honestly say I've never met a cheese I didn't like. Stinky, tangy, creamy, I love them all. And that passion for fromage means I always have a stack of blocks in my fridge. You know, pre-dinner snack, dessert cheese, midnight munch. Like I said, I'm enthusiastic, folks.
To keep my cheese stash fresh, I've always wrapped everything in plastic wrap, popped the blocks on the bottom shelf of my fridge (NYC apartment means no cheese drawer), and called it a day. Turns out, I need a better system. Here's the expert advice I'll be considering when it comes to future cheese storage.
Give it space. "Because cheese easily absorbs other flavors, we recommend keeping it away from other aromatic foods in the refrigerator," says Adam Brock, the director of food quality, safey and compliance for the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. (Welp, strike one.) If you don't have a separate cheese drawer in your fridge, a vegetable crisper works just as well. "The temperature is more stable and humidity is higher," says Madeline Kuhn, cheesemaker for Roth Cheese in Wisconsin.
Wrap it right. Most experts recommend wrapping cheese in cheese paper to allow it to breath without letting other aromas permeat the cheese. (Investing in some of these immediately.) "If you can't find or don't want to buy cheese paper, wrap it in wax or parchment paper, then put it in a partially sealed plastic bag," says Ken Monteleone, owner of Fromagination Cheese Shop in Madison, WI. You'll also want to unwrap and rewrap the cheese immediately when you get home and replace the wrap each time you open your cheese to get the most out of it, according to Kuhn.
Store stinky cheese separately. Pungent cheeses like blue cheeses (a fave!) can be stored in their own closed container in the fridge. These varieties need more space and oxygen, plus this keeps them from spreading their strong flavor to everything else in your fridge, says Pam Hodgson, master cheesemaker at Sartori. (So that's why my whole fridge smells, well, funky.)
Store shredded cheese in a bag. Shredded cheese can be stored in plastic bags or in the packaging it comes in, which is usually resealable. Just make sure to get as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it shut, says Kuhn.
Avoid the freezer, if you can. Try to only buy cheese you want to use within its shelf life. Freezing cheese can change its texture, which could make it unpleasant to eat after it defrosts. If you do want to freeze your cheese, opt for hard cheeses like parm or firm cheeses like swiss and use the defrosted cheese as an ingredient in a recipe, recommends Brock.