How to Store Cheese
If you’re a cheese lover, it’s really easy to get lost in the cheese section of the grocery store and come out with way more than you can eat. Of course, you want to eat it at its prime, but if you buy too much, eating cheese at its best requires a little cheese storage know-how. Here, we'll tell you how to store cheese properly to extend its shelf life as long as possible with tips and suggestions from a cheesemaker.
How to Store Cheese
There are a few different types of cheese and they all get special treatment, however, they all need to be stored where it’s cool but not cold—which is not ideal if you have more cheese than you can handle at once. Christian Dyrlund, cheesemaker and owner of Blue Ridge Creamery says, “The best advice I can give for storing cheese is whenever possible…don’t.” Because cheese likes the temperature to be about 55℉ with high humidity, he recommends buying less cheese more often so it's guaranteed to stay fresh. If it’s too late for you, don’t worry. He has tips and suggestions for storing different types of cheese after opening so you can enjoy them when they taste best.
First Things First
55℉ is much cooler than room temperature and much warmer than your refrigerator (refrigerators should be kept at 40℉ or lower). That makes cheese storage difficult—but not impossible. Dyrlund warns, "Dry air is the enemy of cheese.” That means that if the fridge is the only place you can store your cheese, he says, "Your vegetable drawer is the best bet for cheese storage." Just make sure the setting is on "High Humidity."
Soft cheeses like Ricotta and fromage blanc are spreadable and best enjoyed as soon as possible. They’re typically sold in plastic tubs. “We recommend leaving them there,” says Dyrlund. He says if you keep them in the original packaging, they’re less likely to get contaminated.
When you serve cheeses like Brie and Camembert, they should be allowed to come up to room temperature before serving, but that presents a slight problem: They release oil (the same way butter does) but it won’t recombine with the rest of the cheese to be served again. Because of this, Dyrund recommends storing the remaining cheese in a brown paper bag and keeping it in a cabinet to be eaten the following day. You read that right: don’t refrigerate it. Dyrlund says the cheese will taste much better if it doesn’t have to go through several cooling and drying cycles.
Firm and Hard Cheeses
Cheesemaking is a method of food preservation and the rind on firm and hard cheeses (anything from blue cheese to Parmesan) is a layer designed to protect the part of the cheese we like to eat. But when that layer is cut, it opens it up to unwanted mold. You don't need cheese bags or cheese paper to store it—some say to wrap your cheese in wax or parchment paper, but once your cheese has been cut, Dyrlund recommends a double wrap. He says to “Shave off a thin layer before wrapping first with a layer of parchment paper, then with a layer of foil.” He says the combination allows the cheese to breathe while providing protection from cold, dry fridge air. But if you don’t have parchment paper or foil on hand, Dyrlund says that’s ok, shrouding a few pieces of cheese in plastic wrap for the short term will keep the cheese fresh.