The Ultimate Guide to Storing Cheese
There’s little we like more than a crumbly slice of Godminster Vintage Organic Cheddar or a liberal spread of Bath Soft Cheese. And we know you’re the same. Our Artisan Cheese category is one of our most popular, and with good reason. When it comes to cheese, this green and pleasant land is producing some of the very ‘Best of British’.
And because we’re fanatical about our cheese, we’re equally fanatical about keeping it at its best so we can enjoy it for as long as possible. So read on to discover our ultimate guide to storing cheese so you can keep your Barbury Hill selections in tip-top condition.
Why do I have to look after cheese?
Unlike many of the items in our store cupboards, cheese is a living, breathing entity that continues to develop. All of those helpful microbes - the yeasts, moulds and bacteria - that transform the cheese into a delectable, aromatically rich temptation carry on working. So storing your cheese in the right way means that any of the less desirable changes brought about by those microbes are delayed, giving you a chance to enjoy the cheese as the producer intended.
What should I wrap cheese in?
We all know we need to stop using clingfilm and plastics for the sake of the environment, but did you know they’re no good for your cheese either? Plastic traps moisture on the cheese, leading to an increase in white surface mould that, while harmless, can affect the flavour and appearance.
The ultimate goal is to find the perfect balance between stopping the cheese drying out, and allowing it to breathe. Beeswax wraps, baking paper, or wax paper all protect the cheese while allowing enough breathing space. If your cheese comes in its own wax paper wrapping, this is likely to be the ideal storage so try to keep it.
What’s the best way to store cheese to keep it fresh for longer?
Once you’ve wrapped the cheese in wax paper or similar, pop it into a Tupperware lined with a damp kitchen towel or cloth. Using a Tupperware stops any smell from the cheese escaping into the fridge (we love a ripe Brie, but not so much the pungent aroma as we open the fridge door). It also stops any strong smells from the fridge transferring to the cheese.
Then, and this might sound curious, throw in a sugar cube. This absorbs excess moisture, regulates the atmosphere and prevents the cheese from sweating, keeping it fresh for longer. You might need to change the cube occasionally, so check on it whenever you dip in for a slice of cheese.
Where should I keep artisan cheese?
If you’re lucky enough to have a larder or a cellar, then that’s the ideal location. Dark, cool and airy is the aim here. But if your storage capacity leans more towards suburban semi than country estate, then the vegetable drawer of the fridge is a fine alternative. As well as having a more regular temperature, this is a slightly more humid space than the drier air of the rest of the fridge, and is more suitable to stopping the cheese drying out.
Alternatively, if your veg drawer is full of veg (well done you), the very top shelf of the fridge is also a good option as the temperature here is more stable.
What is the best way to serve cheese?
If you only do one thing, take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to eat it. Your Baron Bigod and Bath Soft will thank you for it, as they happily soften to the meltingly more-ish consistency that will have guests greedily digging in for more.
But saying that, don’t make the error of leaving the cheese in direct light, or out for too long on a very hot day. A room temperature of 14-18 degrees is ideal for allowing the cheese to rest and relax. Keep hard cheeses wrapped until you’re ready to bring them to the table to prevent them drying out.
And only take out what you intend to eat (even we might struggle to eat an entire 1kg wheel of Baron Bigod in one sitting!) Every time you take the cheese out of the fridge and bring it up to room temperature, the live cultures and moulds start working. This can reduce the life expectancy of your delicious cheese so we’d recommend cutting off as much as you plan to eat and keeping the rest in the fridge until next time.
While not strictly necessary, we’re a fan of using different knives, and different styles of knife for each cheese. If your guest is a fan of brie but shivers at the thought of a blue, then cutting both cheeses with the same knife will leave a bitter taste in their mouth. And of course, having a full complement of cheese knives will make you look the consummate professional, even if they were a hastily ordered addition.
What is the best way to eat cheese?
While we’ve been known to stand at the fridge, taking sneaky slices off the cheddar and stealing the nose of the cheese (quelle horreur!), we’ll admit that’s possibly not the best way to eat cheese. An easy way to make sure you’re getting the best from each cheese is to enjoy them in order of strength, starting with the mildest and working your way up to the strongest.
When it comes to accompaniments, the world is your oyster, with a plethora of chutneys and crackers available to add pizzazz to your cheeseboard. We covered the best crackers for cheese in our recent story (link), and chutney is a given, but if you want to push the boat out, why not serve the cheese with some premium dark chocolate or toasted nuts. We’ve even seen kimchi given as a serving suggestion, so it’s fair to say you don’t have to stick to grapes and chutney.
What should I drink with cheese?
While red wine is the common go-to for many when eating cheese, white wine actually pairs better with most cheeses. The tannins in red wine battle with the robust flavour of the cheese, though a lighter style is a compromise if you can’t be torn from your bottle of red. But even with the white there are caveats - you’ll want to avoid anything overly acidic, think a nicely rounded Chardonnay.
A sparkling wine is a particularly delicious companion to cheese and worth experimenting with - and what’s not to love about the prospect of cheese and bubbles?
But the winning pairing with cheese? It’s that old favourite, beer. Happy bed fellows for centuries, beer and cheese share complementary notes that make them ideal partners. And with such a range of styles of beer, and of cheeses, finding the perfect combination may take a little experimentation and lots of tastings. But who are we to complain?
The Ultimate Cheese Care Guide
We hope you’ve found this ultimate cheese care guide helpful. If it lets you keep your cheese in peak condition for longer then our job here is done! And if it’s given you a craving for a smudge of Bath Soft or a tangy crumble of Black Cow, then visit our Artisan Cheese category to explore our full range of lovingly crafted British cheese. After all, now you know how to care for your cheese, why not test out the tips and see if you can enjoy your cheese for longer (if you can resist eating it all in one sitting that is).
by Tor Saner, Product & Marketing
Tor ensures our platform and product selection is as good as it can be and is always on the lookout for delicious hidden gems. Tor has eaten her way around the globe and loves nothing more than a glass of chilled Rosé in the sunshine with friends.