Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cheese Storage Question


liuzhou
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have a problem.

I live in southern China, almost on the tropic of whichever tropic is the northern one. It is incredibly humid for most of the year. Water runs down the walls and I can't use my computer printer - the paper is too wet. It is also very hot. In the high 30ºs C except for a short winter where it can, but rarely, falls as low as 3ºC.

Cheese is difficult to get hold of in China (outside of the large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai which are far awy from me), but I can sometimes find some - New Zealand or Mongolian cheddar, Emmentaler, Danish Brie and Camembert, Edam and Gouda. It seldom lasts long, so storage isn't much of a problem. I do freeze some and the stuff for current eating goes in the fridge (yes, I know, but when it hits 40ºC you don't want your precious cheese running out the door.)

However, and here's my problem. I also occasionally find Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano which I also keep in the fridge ready to grate over my pastas. I have tried different ways to wrap it. In foil. In plastic bags, In foil and plastic bags. In ziplock bags. In foil and ziplock bags. In plastic boxes. It still goes mouldy before I can finish it. I do cut the mould off and soldier on, but I hate the waste - especially as it's so hard to find.

I know I could keep it in the freezer, too. But I like to have it in grate-able condition for when I suddenly rustle up some Spaghetti Aglio E Olio on a whim.

I am sure some of you wise people will have a suggestion or two which doesn't involve importing dehumidifiers or whatever!

Many thanks.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey there. For these type of cheeses, one of the tricks is to wrap it in grease proof paper, so it won't become dry, yet the cheese can still 'breathe' (you'll have to store it in the fridge of course). I've also read in an old book, that if you put it in a clay pot (yes, in which you'd usually keep flowers :)) and pour sugar around the cheese then cover the whole thing, it will keep its aroma and texture for quite a long time (in this case, you don't have to put it in the fridge).

Edited by Beewner (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen greaseproof paper here, but there are lots of flowerpots. But it's not the aroma and texture I'm having problems with. And certainly not dryness. Exactly the opposite.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you have indicated you want to grate it, can you not grate it from the frozen state? I would think if you used a rasp type grater the tiny flakes would thaw before they hit your pasta. Just a thought.

Edited for missing word.

Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yes, Anna. I thought of that. It could work. Sadly, I don't really want powdered cheese. I prefer a larger grate. I like to see ribbons of cheese on top. Maybe grate was the wrong word. I like to use this side of my box grater. It won't deal with frozen cheese.

IMG_7412.jpg

Maybe I'm too fussy. And will have to compromise.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yes, Anna. I thought of that. It could work. Sadly, I don't really want powdered cheese. I prefer a larger grate. I like to see ribbons of cheese on top. Maybe grate was the wrong word. I like to use this side of my box grater. It won't deal with frozen cheese.

attachicon.gifIMG_7412.jpg

Maybe I'm too fussy. And will have to compromise.

The other option, of course, is to grate and then freeze. Not ideal but as you say compromise might be your only option.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a question - when you grate, do you just grab the cheese and shred away? Or do you keep some of the cheese's wrapper between your hand and the cheese itself? I ask, because I used to have exactly this problem with Parmesan and Romano, but once I started trying to not touch the actual cheese with my actual hands, it was less of an issue. I use a chunk of wax paper as a cheese grip.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you let the frozen cheese sit out for 15-20 minutes you might be able to grate what you need off the surface. Then stick it back in the freezer.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give that a try. I don't have any in the freezer at the moment, but it can be arranged.

Here's a question - when you grate, do you just grab the cheese and shred away? Or do you keep some of the cheese's wrapper between your hand and the cheese itself? I ask, because I used to have exactly this problem with Parmesan and Romano, but once I started trying to not touch the actual cheese with my actual hands, it was less of an issue. I use a chunk of wax paper as a cheese grip.

I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying the mould is forming because I touched the cheese? How would that work?

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think your fundamental problem is that your fridge is staying too humid. Most fridges are fairly dry, but in your extreme circumstances that's probably not the case.

So, have you tried using a desiccant (not sure of my spelling here, but I mean a powder or crystals that soak up moisture.) to dry the fridge out? You could perhaps find some of the little bags that are put in shipping boxes to keep things dry.

A problem is that given your constant high humidity you might have to be changing the thing pretty frequently. If I remember correctly, however, you can dry them out in the oven for repeated use.

In our medium humidity climate our cheese keeps well wrapped in foil.

Hope this helps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a question - when you grate, do you just grab the cheese and shred away? Or do you keep some of the cheese's wrapper between your hand and the cheese itself? I ask, because I used to have exactly this problem with Parmesan and Romano, but once I started trying to not touch the actual cheese with my actual hands, it was less of an issue. I use a chunk of wax paper as a cheese grip.

I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying the mould is forming because I touched the cheese? How would that work?

I'm not sure exactly how it works, it's just something I've noticed whilst living in a hot and humid climate and handling cheese. If I touch the cheese directly with bare hands, no matter how clean they are, mould forms more rapidly than if I use a chunk of wax paper or some similar between my hands and the cheese.

  • Like 1

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure exactly how it works, it's just something I've noticed whilst living in a hot and humid climate and handling cheese. If I touch the cheese directly with bare hands, no matter how clean they are, mould forms more rapidly than if I use a chunk of wax paper or some similar between my hands and the cheese.

I see. I'll try to be hands-free with the cheese and see what happens. Thanks.

So, have you tried using a desiccant

Do they deliver by the ton?

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I buy Parmigiano-Reggiano in huge blocks at Costco. The block is too large for us to finish before turning hard and mouldy. My solution has been to cut it into manageable blocks and freeze. I then take out a block and use it as wanted over the course of a few days.. Perhaps this may work for you....... I generally use my microplane grater for parmesan as it grates nice and small. I think I have tried grating from the frozen state when desperate, but it takes a strong arm.

Life is short, eat dessert first

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may leave an unpleasantly strong flavor on the cheese, but it may be worth a shot - I had one hunk of cheese that was DETERMINED to mold and I successfully made it behave itself by wrapping it in a bit of cheese cloth dampened with vinegar and then wrapping the lot in a plastic bag. I don't recall it making the cheese taste vinegar-y but it was quite a while ago so it's possible I just trimmed off the bits that were right on the outside when I went to use some of it. It definitely helped with the mold issue, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have store a lot of cheese for long periods of time in vacuumed sealed bags in the fridge with no hint of mold growth

Cut off what I'll eat over a couple of days and reseal

If vacuum sealing is not an option then freezing would be the way to go

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can you get a vacuum sealer? They work really well on cheese, and honestly, cheese is the one item I have sealed more than anything else. Once sealed, the cheese can remain in the fridge for several months. What you do is seal it in a bag that is much longer than really needed. Then each time you open it to use it, you reseal which means you lose about 4cm of the bag.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's Marcella Hazan's recommendation, and it works perfectly here in New York where we have intensely humid summers:

Wrap your parmigiano completely in wax paper, then wrap that in aluminum foil. Put that in the fridge.

It seems to keep forever. If it dries out too much, then wrap it in cheesecloth soaked in water, then layers of wax paper and aluminum foil as above, for two days, and it will be back to normal. Return it to just wax paper and foil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wrap your parmigiano completely in wax paper, then wrap that in aluminum foil. Put that in the fridge.

That's my method--wrap in wax paper, then foil. The small piece of parmigiano now in my fridge was a much larger chunk many months ago. If I change the wax paper and foil more often, I notice less mold.

For what it's worth, parmigiano-reggiano is one of those few cheeses that will take well to freezing. From a very good book I'm reading now, Cheese by Juliet Harbutt:

Parmigiano will keep for months in a refrigerator, but the rough surface may grow some mould, so if you have bought a large chunk or use it rarely... grate it straight from the freezer. It will quickly defrost on a hot dish.

It may be that you will have to use a microplane for frozen parmigiano, rather than the box grater that you prefer. Also, I would not grate frozen cheese on hot food--it would cool down the food too much for my taste. Instead, let the grated cheese defrost for a few minutes in a dish at room temp. I bet the defrosting won't take long.

good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the vinegar idea: this summer I was told by a sheep-cheese salesman that the best way to keep his cheese was to wipe the rind with vinegar, then re-wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in a cool place. His assertion was that the cheese would last for months that way. We were dealing at the time with outside air temperatures of around 40C and humidity in the 80+% range. I've since managed to move back to what I consider a more civilized climate, and the temperature and humidity have both dropped, so I haven't had to test it.

Caveats:

1. This was a sheep cheese. I don't know whether one cheese reacts differently than another, but I can say that the cheese for which this advice was given is hard, dry and flavorful, along the lines of Manchego or Parmegiano-Reggiano. (I know that last isn't from sheep, but its consistency is similar.)

2. This was a WHOLE cheese, and he was talking about wiping the rind. However, I doubt that the flavor produced by wiping the cut surface of a cheese with a bland vinegar would taste any worse than cheese mold where it isn't intended.

By the way - the vinegar in question was a standard white vinegar, without any particular flavor: not cider vinegar or wine vinegar, for instance. I'd guess that rice vinegar would be a good substitute.

  • Like 1

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

 

I don't think I'll be going the desiccator route. As I said in my first post I don't want to start importing equipment, even if I can.

 

I'm not sure that wax paper is available here but I'll send my intrepid team of sleuths out searching.

 

In the meantime, I'll try the freezer / partial defrosting thing which a few people have mentioned. I'm not going to put frozen cheese on my pasta, so that is a non-starter. Washing the cheese in vinegar doesn't appeal either.

 

By the way the box grater is not what I "prefer". It's what I have. Out here, you have to make do with what you can find, which in many areas of life isn't a lot.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...