Packed or unpacked? Top or bottom of your fridge? Our Cheese Master gives you all her tips to conserve your cheese at home.
First, the most important thing to know is that cheeses are lively products in some way, due to the presence of microorganisms and bacteria. They are inherent to cheese production and constantly evolve during the maturation process. They give to the cheese their texture and taste.
So how to keep your cheese in the best condition to make it last longer? Here are our Cheese Master advices:
The basic rules
- When you receive your cheese, take it out from its vacuum bag and re-wrap it into a paper such as: wax paper- bee wax paper or simply baking paper
- Keep it into a hermetic plastic or glass box and place a piece of paper towel inside the box. Why? The paper will absorb the humidity and gives it back to the cheese when needed.
- Place your box in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Crisper drawers have a greater humidity than the rest of your fridge and are designed to prolong the freshness of stored products. It will keep the cheese isolated from the other products and avoid it to be reeked by the smell of other products while preventing the smell of cheese to infuse your fridge (Yea, we all know that a Camembert in the fridge can be pretty…smelly).
How long can I keep the cheese in my fridge without doing anything?
- Fresh cheese as Mozzarella, Ricotta, Mascarpone: around 10 days
- Bloomy rind such as Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin: around 2 to 3 weeks. If the cheese is already ripened when you buy it – i.e.: creamy and no chalky part in its centre, count only 10 days maximum.
- Semi hard cheese such as Tomme, Raclette, Saint-Nectaire: 2 to 3 weeks
- Hard cheese like Comté, Beaufort, Mimolette: up to 1 month
- Blue cheese: 3 to 4 weeks.
What is the difference between Best before and Use-by dates?
Best before dates are related to food quality (taste and texture) when Use-by dates are related to food safety (development of non-desired bacteria). You can check the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety release to know more here.
- Best before: Most of food products have a best before date. It means that you can still safely eat the product for a while after its best before date, but it may have lost some of its gustative quality. In Hong Kong and Europe, products that have a best before date can legally be sold after that date. At Cheese Club, we don’t sell our products after the Best Before date. When the date is close, around 10 days before, we sold them at a discounted rate of 50%, such a nice bargain for food lovers!
- Use-by: Products that must be eaten before a certain time for health and safety reasons have a use-by date. After this deadline, the products can’t be sold, and we repeat, must not be eaten.
<<If you want to know more about the different cheeses, keep reading >>
Feta, Halloumi, Mozzarella di Buffala (the really white one with no rind at all)
Our Cheese Master tips: Make your brine!
The best way to keep them is to make your own brine, a mix of water and salt. Add 10 to 20% of salt of the density of your water.
For example, for 1 litre of water, add between 100 to 200g of salt. The water should be saturated by the salt to keep preserve the cheese longer.
I personally prefer to put only 10 % of the density as it will not salt your product. Pour a container with the brine and fill it with the cheese, the cheese must be fully covered in the brine. Change the solution every 2 weeks.
Be careful: Do not replace the brine with distilled water, the taste of your cheese will be diluted, and the cheese will rotten faster.
SOS: I got mould on my cheese what to do?
Just throw the mouldy part away by shaving it. However, if you start getting some mucor – blue or greyish patches – on the top of fresh cheeses, they will become sharp and pungent and are not good anymore.
The soft cheese with natural or ashy rinds: Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Crottin de Chavignol…
If the cheese is vacuum which is rarely the case, take it off its vacuum bag straightaway!
Usually, these kinds of cheeses are kept into a plastic cover ‘cloche’ (or bell cover) in order to prevent any contacts with its packaging and let them ‘breath’ – we told you, cheeses are alive.
Some moulds, called ‘cat’s hair’ or mucor, will appear on the top on the rind. It is totally fine and come from the humidity and evolution of the flower (microorganisms) of the cheese. You can just flatten it by gently patting it and will result with the creation of a thicker rind.
The cheese will start having wrinkles, or ‘frog skin’, and the rind will fall off from the cheese while creaming in the border: that is also part of the maturation process and this one is the Geotricchum Candidum in action. What Geotricchum is? A fungus that colonizes nearly all fungal surface-ripened cheeses during the early stages of ripening and that contributes to the characteristic appearance, taste, and aroma of cheeses.
Our Cheese Master tips:
First, for those, there is nothing to do as it will happen anyway. Keep the cheese in a hermetic box and put paper towel in the box to avoid getting to much humidity and condensation (droplets) inside and around the cheese. If the cheese becomes too humid, it will be bitter and smell rancid faster.
Secondly, as already stated, I recommend to re-wrap the cheese into wax paper or bee wax paper which will help for the cheese conservation.
Third, adopt the cheese refiner move: flip your cheese regularly to avoid concentrating the humidity in one part of the cheese.
If you keep the cheese at the same place without moving it, the part in contact with a surface will ‘sweat’ as there is no air circulation while the opposite part will dry. Also, flipping it regularly will help to maintain the cheese shape and prevent it to slump.
The semi-hard cheese: Tomme, Saint-Nectaire, …
What can happen to these types of cheeses?
White mould spots can develop in the paste around the rind of the cheese.
Take a deep breath and do not be scared about the mould, it is a safe, normal, and natural one. With the help of a paring knife – the small smooth and sharp one – shave the mould and… eat your cheese. You must do it regularly as the cheese the development of the mould is steady.
My cheese is too dry?
Same thing, shave the dried part before eating it, however, keep the dry part if you are not planning to eat the cheese right now at it will keep the rest of the cheese protected.
What to do with the dry part? Grind it and sprinkle your soup or pasta dishes to add a savoury note.
The hard cheese: Comté, Beaufort, Cheddar…
You can keep them into their vacuum bag for a few days as they feature less humidity than other types of cheeses. But, for a perfect tasting experience, take the cheese out of its packaging 20 to 30 min before eating it as it needs to breath and get rid of potential plastic after taste.
I always recommend shaving the product a little bit to give it a ‘fresh cut’.
What to do if the cheese is sweaty and humid?
Dry it up with paper towel and re-wrap it into paper, shave the too much ‘soaked’ and place it with its fellows in a hermetic box.
What to do if the cheese is too dry?
Not much to do, except transform the cheese by grinding the dry part and use it for cooking: in a soup, in a gratin or in pasta dishes.
The Blue cheeses
Blue cheeses are usually wet as they have a greater ratio of water activity.
They do need their own separate hermetic box, otherwise they will flow on the other cheeses and infuse them with their sharp and strong aroma.
Usually, you can safely eat a yogurt after is Best Before Date. The yogurt will be more and more acidic while it ages due to the the Lactobacillus that will keep transforming lactose into acid lactic.
Up to your tastebuds, you can still eat it. BUT, if you start seeing some blue-greyish mould, that’s time to throw your yogurt away!
Let’s state that: Butter is mainly composed of fat, 82 % to be precise.
How to preserve it?
Don’t keep your butter without any ‘protection’ in your fridge as it will distort its taste by being infused by the odour of other products in your fridge.
Put it into an individual hermetic plastic box OR wrap the butter into wax paper and then into a cling film.
If your butter starts smelling rancid – sour – take off the first layer, you can still consume the rest. However, if moulds develop which is rare, sadly, throw your butter away.
If you like buying in big quantities, I recommend pre-cutting some smaller pieces and freeze them separately. It ensures a longer conservation.
All in all
Trust yourself! Try more and be more confident, your palate will tell you when something is too ripe. Bitterness and ammonia taste are the main criteria of a bad dairy products.
Mould is okay in most of the case: if the mould is blue/ greyish there is no sanitary risk.