Since I recently confessed to spending altogether too much money on cheese, I thought I’d share a cheese storage tip with all of you. Now cheese is not usually a long term storage item, but it does require a little bit of special treatment anyway. I mean, if you’re going to spend several dollars per pound on something delicious, you might as well spend a minute making sure that it stays at its best.
Now I know that you’ve seen advice to wrap cut cheese back up in plastic wrap or possibly in something like waxed or cheese paper. The latter might avoid the pitfalls of the former, but it’s a sure fire recipe for dried out crustiness in our dehydrating refrigerators. Unless you really like making cheese origami.
What’s wrong with plastic wrap? Well, cheese is fat and plastic is oil. Remember the recent business about phthalates? Plasticizers aren’t to be messed with.
Consumer Reports tested 14 national and local brands of wrapped cheese for levels of plasticizers. The reason they chose cheese is that plasticizers are more likely to leach into fatty foods like cheese and hamburger. They found high levels of DEHP in the cheeses wrapped in deli cling wrap. People who eat several ounces of this cheese every day could get very high doses of DEHP that could possibly cause health problems. There were moderate levels of DEHP in some of the shrink-wrapped cheeses and in the waxed cheeses with plastic overwrap. There was little or no DEHP on individually wrapped slices of American cheese or blocks of cheddar in laminated foil wrap.
Besides, plastic makes cheese sweat. Who wants sweaty cheese?
I’ve found the best compromise between stocking cheese paper and delicately wrapping it, is to unwrap the cheese from the store packaging, wrap it in a paper towel (dampened slightly for soft cheeses), and place the wrapped cheese in a zipper storage bag.
When you need cheese, it’s easily available and I find it keeps much better this way. Since I switched to this method from plastic wrap, I haven’t had any issues with mold or other spoilage.
By the way, every once in a while I see some Wensleydale at the co-op. 😀