Storage Tips

A Highly Useful Guide to Storing Cheese

Never let your cheese dry out again.

July 13, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

When it comes to cheese, sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Ideally, you shouldn't buy more cheese than you can consume in a few days. However, few of us have a strong enough will to resist the jewel-like beauties of the cheese aisle, despite their often hefty price tag. One thing's for sure: If you're dropping a bundle on a bunch of cheeses, you better make sure to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. 

The best method for storing cheese is exceptionally simple, but you'll want to keep a few tips in mind, depending on what type of cheese you're storing—from a pungent blue to a creamy Camembert. 

 

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But first: Steer clear of plastic wrap.

This may come as a surprise, but cheese is actually a living thing. It sweats. It ages. It even breathes. When cheese is wrapped in plastic wrap it can no longer intake oxygen—in short, it suffocates, resulting in an amoniac flavor and possibly even harmful bacteria.

As self-professed "curd nerd" Jake Lahne of Serious Cheese explains, plastic wrap can also cause the cheese to taste like, well, plastic. Which is not the flavor you were hoping for when you invested in a $15 hunk of funky Scharfe Maxx from the cheesemonger. So if your cheese was wrapped in plastic at the supermarket, rewrap it the right way as soon you get home. Because you know better.

The Best Way to Store Cheese

If plastic wrap is a no-no, what should you wrap your cheese in? The overwhelming consensus is: cheese paper. This specialty item allows the cheese to breathe, but also protects it from drying out. If you don't want to invest in cheese paper, parchment paper (which we went with) works just fine.

Here's what you'll need: cheese paper (or parchment paper), scissors, masking tape, a marker, and, of course, the cheese in question. It's time to wrap.

Step 1: Cut off a large square of wrapping paper—we recommend it be two to three times the size of your cheese, just to be safe. Place your cheese diagonally with the thicker end at one corner and the thinner end pointing toward the center.

 How to Wrap Cheese on Food52

Step 2: Fold the corner over the fat end of the cheese. Crease. Flatten the paper along one side, as you would do wrapping a present. 

 How to Wrap Cheese on Food52   How to Wrap Cheese on Food52

Pull the side you had flattened tightly across the cheese. Crease. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the cheese, being sure to keep the paper pulled tightly.

 How to Wrap Cheese on Food52 

Step 3: Crease the tail sticking out from the end of your cheese. Pull it up towards the thicker part of the cheese.

How to Wrap Cheese on Food52

Step 4: Ta-da! Tape the final flap to secure your beautiful, expertly wrapped cheese package. Make sure to write the type of cheese, as well as the date on which you purchased it, on the tape. That way you can tell what's what without unwrapping, and can keep track of how long it's been sitting in your fridge.

If you're still feeling iffy about your wrapping skills, watch this handy-dandy video.

How to Store Cheese on Food52

Tips for Storing Hard Cheeses

Hard cheeses should be true to their name, but you still need to be able to cut it. Tami Parr of The Pacific Northwest Cheese Project says that from the moment the curds are separated from the whey, your cheese begins to dehydrate. Refrigerators accelerate the dehydration process.

To help your firmer cheeses retain moisture put them inside an open plastic bag after they're wrapped. This should help keep the cheese from becoming an unappetizing rock while still allowing it to breathe. You can also wrap the whole thing loosely in plastic wrap, as suggested by Nora Singley of The Kitchn.

How to Store Cheese on Food52

Tips for Storing Blue Cheese

If you love blue cheese, you really love it. You love the pungent, acrid explosion that floods your tongue upon first contact, and then slowly mellows into a creamy backdrop. If you love your blue cheese, you've got to store it properly— and keep it away from your other cheese, who might not love it as much as you.

Blue cheese is kind of a flavor hog. It knows it's got the sharpest taste around, and if you're not careful its flavors will infuse your milder specimens. To avoid this, wrap your blue cheese in the same manner as above (you can even double-wrap it to be extra safe), then store it in a plastic container.

How to Wrap Cheese on Food52

Tips for Storing Soft Cheeses

This is where things get a little sticky. Remember when we said never to wrap your cheese in plastic wrap? Well, here we contradict ourselves a bit. Because when it comes to softer, creamy cheeses—like a lovely, gooey, stinky Brie or Camembert—people are in a bit of a disagreement about how to keep them at their peak.

Some, like Eat By Date, argue that wrapping softer cheeses in plastic wrap helps prevent them from drying out. Others, like the folks at Beecher's Handmade Cheese, opt for paper. In the end, if you decide to go the plastic route, just make sure to change your plastic wrap every couple of days.

Very soft cheeses, such as ricotta or mozzerella, should be stored in their natural liquid in a plastic container. Watch them carefully because they will not last as long as some of its firmer cousins.

How to Store Cheese on Food52

The Best Place to Store Your Cheese

Now that your cheese is wrapped up pretty, where should you keep it? Real Simple advises to store wrapped cheese in a crisper in the fridge, which will have the most consistent temperature and humidity. If you're a true fromage fiend, devote a whole drawer of your fridge to cheese.

Watch: How to Make Mozzarella at Home

Bonus Tips for Storing Cheese

Tip #1: If you unwrap your cheese and are surprised by something fuzzy clinging to its surface, don't panic. Just cut it off and continue munching; unless it's on a soft cheese in which case it may be past its prime. Trust your instincts—if the cheese looks or smells off, it probably is.

Tip #2: Don't freeze cheese! It will muddle the flavor and texture. However, if you're just using the cheese for cooking, freezing is kosher.

Tip #3: If you take out your cheese for a get-together or for a late-night snack, be sure to re-wrap it in fresh paper.

In the end, your cheese is a living, breathing thing. Treat it like one, and it'll treat you back.

A Few of Our Favorite Cheesy Recipes

Cheesy Artichoke Melts With Crushed Nori

This riff on a classic tuna melt—with hearty chunks of jarred artichokes tossed in an umami-rich dressing—makes an excellent lunch, dinner, or even midnight snack. 

Sheet-Pan Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

This family-friendly casserole is all about ease and comfort. Oh, and lots and lots of sharp cheddar cheese.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken With Herby Potatoes

Riffability is the name of the game for this crispy parmesan-crusted chicken—switch up the herbs, leave out the onion, or even swap in pork cutlets for the chicken. 

Pasta With Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil & Brie

Brie may not seem like an obvious choice for a summery pasta, but trust us, it absolutely makes this creamy tomato dish. 

Do you have any tips for storing cheese? Share them with us in the comments below! 

Photos by James Ransom

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35 Comments

Funkygirl August 17, 2020
How do I store the crumbly cottage cheese found in vacuum packed plastic? Once opened, it really does crumble easily.
 
FrugalCat August 15, 2020
Or, store it in the Food52 Cheese Vault, which you can buy right here in the 52 Store. All joking aside, I have one and love it. Just keep in mind it really does not hold large pieces of cheese.
 
John S. August 14, 2020
So why is all the cheese I buy at the grocery store -- even high-end grocery stores' specialty-cheese section -- wrapped in essentially the same plastic wrap I use at home? The cheese doesn't need to breathe at the grocery store?

I've been using my vacuum sealer on hard cheeses. It seems to be ok, but obviously nothing is going to be breathing much in the vacuum. So this is the worst thing I could do?

 
Susan S. August 14, 2020
A cheesemonger told me if i could not get cheese paper use wax paper instead and after wrapping put the cheese in a plastic zip lock bag. That method has worked very well for me.
 
Yirgach August 14, 2020
Use Glad Wrap, no effect on food products.
Just try it and make your own decision.
 
Adrienne B. July 19, 2020
I store my cheese in a plastic shoebox in the refrigerator. Usually, I just leave the cheese in its wrapper. If it dries out a little at the open end, no worries, our furry people are thrilled because they'll get a treat in their dishes. The only one I keep in a separate container is blue cheese. The others, white cheddar, pepper jack, swiss, and mozzarella don't seem to mind living together in the cheese box. What's really funny though is that all three of the furry people recognize the sound of that cheese drawer being pulled out of the fridge and they sit there at rapt attention by the kitchen entrance hoping that something - anything - will fall to the floor
 
rhustonpdx July 14, 2020
What about the cheese vault? https://food52.com/shop/products/4396-cheese-vault
 
isw July 14, 2020
Storing a good blue next to something like cheddar can produce a very attractive -- and tasty -- blue-veined yellow cheese.
 
petaltown July 9, 2018
Wouldn't waxed paper or parchment paper work as well?
 
bellw67 March 2, 2018
I used plastic wrap on my cheese for years, found it went mouldy fast. I now use wax paper along with tin foil. I think I will try the parchment and see how that goes.
 
Forqueue June 1, 2015
So all these many, many years I've wrapped sandwiches and alike in waxed paper my technique was all wrong! Who knew.........cause they never got stale and were for sure far easier to wrap than cheese.
 
GaryODS May 31, 2015
I use this for cheddar, swiss, monterey Jack and similar types of cheese.
Strangely enough I use a semi loose ziplock bag, put the cut cheese in the bag, throw in 3-5 sugar cubes (it must be the cubes NOT the equivalent amount of regular sugar) and seal bag.

Use the cheese as you want it, check on the sugar cubes when you return the cheese to the bag. If the sugar cubes are getting soft or starting to break down from the moisture, clean out bag (of the sugar) and replace sugar cubes with fresh ones and put the cheese back in.

Give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.
 
Chris April 21, 2014
I agree with Gleaner. How about provisioning this line of cheese preservers:
http://www.lakeland.co...
I'd buy it in a heartbeat! Thanks too for the cheese wrapping lesson.
 
Gleaner December 24, 2013
how about provisioning this line of cheese preservers:
http://www.lakeland.co.uk/p5073/Tefal-Cheese-Preservers
we used one when we lived in France and it worked great plus it requires no additional paper wrapping.
 
Ksb December 22, 2013
I've been using parchment-lined foil. Eliminates the need for tape. Fold it like at the deli (bring front and back together and fold over to tighten around cheese, pleat each side and tuck under).
 
catalinalacruz December 22, 2013
I don't know this product. It is not available where I live in Mexico, but will be something to put on my US shopping list. And it would be perfect for sealing the plum pudding I am steaming for Christmas, instead of using parchment paper and foil tied over the mold. Thanks for the tip!
 
catalinalacruz December 22, 2013
For fresh, soft cheese that is still very moist, I use a linen dish towel. Of course, this is a treatment for cheese that will not be in the fridge for too long, as it would dry out eventually. But it breathes, maintains a dry surface, and stays fresh until the end.

Also, in the procedure for "Soft Cheese", did you mean "change your wrapper every couple of days", instead of "change your cheese"?
 
My mother used always to wrap cheese in the waxy inner of cereal packets. The Cheddar, because it was always Cheddar in those days for us, kept well in our cool, ventilated larder.
 
msmely December 20, 2013
A wonderful article but constantly tearing off fresh paper seems wasteful to me. Would you be able to achieve a similar effect with a clean linen kitchen towel?
 
Elana C. December 13, 2013
scharfe maxx!!!!
 
Author Comment
Catherine L. December 14, 2013
For you baby.
 
Lynda K. December 12, 2013
I have used parchment, but lately have been using those pop-up dry wax sheets from Costco. I love those sheets and use them for a million things.
 
Lk G. August 11, 2018
Could you provide more description, please? what color package/box, in what department, etc? thank you.