Whats the best way to store cheese is a question we are asked – a lot.
We thought we would share with you this article from the Guardian which explains it well.
How can I prevent cheese from going mouldy or hard so quickly? How come it can spend years in a cave, but won’t last for much more than a week in my fridge?
Simon, London SW16
I’ll give Simon the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s not talking Dairylea Triangles, because those timeless joys keep for ages, no matter what you do to them, so let’s consult an authority on the subject. There’s really not much to it, says Patricia Michelson of La Fromagerie in London, who literally bet her house on cheese when she set up shop 28 years ago, but adds: “You’ll have problems if you don’t follow a few basics.”
First things first: “Always double-wrap your cheese – in waxed paper or baking parchment, ideally – and put it in a plastic container lined with dampened kitchen towel or J-cloth.” Then clap on the lid and put it in the top of the fridge – that’s where the temperature is usually the most constant, unless you have a freezer compartment above it – and it’ll keep very happily for as long as it takes to eat it all.
Michelson also has a trick up her sleeve – what she calls the “magic/science part”. And, like all the best tricks, it’s easy once you know how: “Put two bog-standard sugar cubes in with the cheese, then seal and refrigerate.” The sugar, she explains, helps to regulate the atmosphere inside the box, so keeping the cheese fresher. Over time, it will start to melt, “though hopefully you’ll have used the cheese before that happens. If not, clean the box, replace the damp cloth and put the cheese back in with two new sugar cubes.”
Bruce Poole, whose restaurants Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, the Glasshouse in Kew and La Trompette in Chiswick boast three of the best-kept cheeseboards in the capital, perhaps not coincidentally because he’s a long-time La Fromagerie customer, tends to do what he’s told by Michelson on cheese-related matters, but the chef isn’t so sure about wax paper. “It’s bloody useless on soft, creamy cheeses,” he says, “so we use clingfilm. Who has wax paper around the house, anyway?”
Like Michelson, Poole keeps his cheese chilled in plastic boxes – one each for hard, soft and blue – though the restaurant uses those big ones normal people use to hide domestic clutter; they prevent any cheesy pong from tainting other fresh produce in the cold store, too. “We take it out and unwrap it about an hour before service, to let it breathe, then cut to order.” Afterwards, the leftovers are given a trim to neaten them up (“staff perk”), before being wrapped up again in fresh clingfilm and sent back into cold storage.
Poole reckons Simon’s problem may actually stem less from an inability to store cheese properly than from poor fridge management. “Domestic fridges should be around the 5C-6C mark, but we cram so much in that they’re often way warmer.” He advises a proper clear-out: “We’re all guilty of keeping stuff in the fridge that shouldn’t be there – lots of fruit and veg doesn’t need to be chilled, and can suffer from it. The same goes for jam, mustard and the like. “And don’t get me started on ketchup – what madness is that?”
Once you’ve cleared a bit of space, check the fridge temperature again. “If it’s still higher than 7C-8C,” Poole says, “it’s time for a new fridge.” And that’s very possibly the last thing Simon wants to hear.