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Storing and Serving Cheese


Storing Cheese

1. Always re-wrap cheese in fresh wrapping, preferably in waxed or parchment paper, after the cheese has been opened to avoid having the cheese dry out or pick up other flavors.  Remember that natural cheese is a living organism, with enzymes and bacteria that need air and moisture to survive.  Thus, re-wrapping the cheese in paper and then in aluminum foil to create a micro-environment for the cheese is the preferred storage treatment.  However, you should not leave cheese in the same wrappings for extended periods of time.

2. 
The recommended temperature range for storing cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, at a high humidity level, preferably in the bottom vegetable/fruit bin.  To avoid accidentally freezing the cheese, don’t store it near the freezer compartment or in the meat bin.

3. Double wrap strong, pungent cheeses, such as blue, aged brick, or washed rind varieties, to avoid having their aromas permeate other foods.  It is best to place these cheeses in an airtight container for extra assurance against aroma leakage.  And it’s best to store cheeses separately if possible, especially blues, washed rinds and milder cheeses, as they will pick up each other’s flavors.

4. If cheeses other than fresh cheeses and blues have surpassed their expiration dates (imprinted on the packaging) or if the cheese develops a blue-green mold on the exterior, make a cut about a ½ inch below the mold to ensure that it has been entirely removed; the remaining cheese will be fine.

5. In general, never freeze natural cheeses, as they may lose their texture, and in some cases their flavor profiles will be seriously altered.  If you must freeze cheese, allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator and use it for cooking, as the texture will become crumbly and dry after it is defrosted.

6. If stored and wrapped cheeses are overly dry, develop a slimy texture, exhibit any off odors, it’s best to discard them.  If you find these characteristics in cheeses at your local shop, do not purchase them, as they are  past their prime.  If a retailer’s offerings consistently display the above characteristics, it’s best to find another resource for your cheese.


Serving Cheese

Serving Cheese1. When putting together a cheese board, to be served before or after dinner, remember to limit your selection to no more than five different cheeses.  Serve cheeses of different sizes, shapes, and flavor or texture profiles to create diversity and add interest to your cheese board.  Strong, pungent cheeses shouldn’t be placed next to delicately flavored cheeses, and try to have individual knives for each cheese.

2. Even modest cheese trays can be elegant when attention is given to the presentation.  Try serving cheeses on a wooden board, marble slab, straw mat, or flat wicker basket.  Do not to overcrowd the serving tray, as your guests will need room to slice the cheeses.  Serve bread and/or plain crackers on a separate plate, or in a wicker basket.

3. Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, fresh figs and melon add variety to a cheese board, especially if cheese is being served with cocktails.  Additional accompaniments can include nuts, such as walnuts or Marcona almonds, fig cakes, and any manner of condiments, such as floral honeys, wine jellies, and Italian mostarda.

4. When designing a menu, consider when you want to serve cheese.  Serving cheese after the main course, prior to or in place of dessert, adds an elegant touch to casual dinners.  If served with cocktails, before dinner, remember that cheeses can be filling.  Serve in limited quantities and variety.

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