I love cheese, but I can only eat so much at a time. I especially like some of the moderately pricey ones like smoked gouda (seen here). But I would rarely treat myself because whenever I buy even the smallest wedge or wheel available, it would go off before I could finish eating it. Until, that is, I figured out how to store cheese.
First, I figured out why it was going bad: plastic. Cheese comes in plastic wrappers these days. As you’ve probably noticed from working with plastic wrap, plastic can make foods “sweat” – that is, trap the moisture in with them so it becomes a nice, damp breeding ground for mold. So I asked myself: how was cheese wrapped before we had plastic? The answer was: wax. Cheese wheels were sealed in wax.
And that’s where I got the idea: wax paper. You can do so many things with wax paper. But it doesn’t shut out air as well as plastic wrap, and that can cause cheese to dry out. So: wax paper inside tin foil. Cheese I store this way stays at just the right moisture level to last for weeks before going bad.
That said, this is the solution that works for me. I’m not going to claim it’s the one and only answer to the question of how to store cheese. If you have a preferred method that works for you, stick with it. What works for either of us may depend on the types of cheese we tend to buy. I’ve tried this with gouda, blue, asiago, cheddar, and others.
How to store cheese
It may seem silly to go over this step by step and include pictures, but it actually took me a few tries to find the best way to wrap the cheese so it stayed wrapped. The first time, I tried to wrap the cheese in the wax paper and foil together, all at once, but that kept the foil from closing well. You have to do the wax paper first and then the foil, and here’s the very best method I’ve found.
Step 1: The Wax Paper
Take your wheel or wedge of cheese and lay it out on a nice big sheet of wax paper.
Put the cheese at one end of the wax paper, and roll it over a couple of times so it’s securely wrapped:
Now fold down the ends the way you would if you were wrapping a present, and tuck them under one side.
Step 2: The Tin Foil
Now, flip that over onto a sheet of tin foil the same size as your wax paper. I put the folded side of the wax paper against the middle of the tin foil so that if the tin foil comes open, the wax paper won’t come open under it and expose the cheese. Next, fold two ends of the tin foil over the cheese. Pinch the ends together and fold them under so it’ll keep securely closed:
Here’s what it looks like when you’re done with that step:
Then fold the ends under like you would a present.
Step 3: Chill
And then I put it in the refrigerator. I have never had any luck with leaving cheese out, no matter how I store it. I think keeping it chilled is esesntial to making it last.
Any cheese I’ve tried this with has stayed fresh for at least a week, but your mileage may vary. Some cheeses keep considerably longer. And by “keep”, I mean they neither mold nor dry out. You can open them up, cut off a piece and put them back as often as you want, and they always taste good.
Is the tin foil necessary? Maybe not – you could use a rubber band, for example, to keep the wax paper from coming open. But wax paper can tear, and a rubber band won’t seal any gaps in it. The tin foil is a second layer of protection.