Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about our favorite Spanish cheeses, but now we would like to share with you different ways to preserve cheese so it stays fresh and has an amazing taste!
Cheese is one of the foods that we consider living because approximately 3 million microorganisms are responsible for turning milk into cheese. So, what do we have to do to preserve it at home?
Once made, the curing process takes its course thanks to the fungi and lactic bacteria that make up the cheese. Heat accelerates the curing process, while the cold slows it down. That is why we must consider several aspects for the conservation of cheese at home.
It is always advisable to buy the whole cheese, since an open cheese such as cut in half or wedges lose a small percentage of its qualities.
How long does a well-preserved cheese last?
As a general rule, soft cheeses are preserved for less time than hard cheeses, since they contain a higher percentage of water. This increases the growth of undesirable bacteria and fungi. In short, a soft cheese will keep for about 15-20 days, while hard cheeses will keep for several months if its conservation is correct.
Temperature to preserve cheese
When cheese is left at room temperature or in contact with heat, it tends to sweat. This causes it to lose fat and, consequently, produces a change in the texture and flavor. Therefore, it is necessary to keep cheese refrigerated most of the time to preserve and maintain its properties.
We must keep in mind that cold temperatures make cheeses dry and cracked, so depending on the type of cheese, we will keep it at one temperature or another.
In general, we can divide cheeses into two large groups:
- Soft cheeses such as- gorgonzola, camembert, and brie, among others
- Hard cheeses such as- Manchego, Idiazabal and Parmesan.
To keep soft cheeses, they should be kept at temperatures between 4°C and 8°C (39°F and 46°F). However, hard cheeses do not require such a low temperature and can be kept in optimal conditions between 8°C and 15°C (46°F and 59°F).
Some refrigerators are equipped with special departments in which the temperature is maintained between 6°C and 10°C (42°F and 50°F). If you have this type of refrigerator, it is ideal to store cheese in these departments. Otherwise, you should store cheese in the vegetable drawer since it is the least cold area. Except for fresh cheese, which should be put in the upper part of the refrigerator because its ideal conservation temperature is 4°C (39°F).
6 methods to preserve cheese at home
Now that we have differentiated cheeses into two large groups and we have seen the temperature to preserve cheese according to its type of paste, we are going to give you tips to preserve cheese correctly. A very important aspect to consider is that the fat in cheese absorbs the flavors. So, we must have suitable wrapping or containers when storing it in the refrigerator.
1. Cling film
Cling film together with the original cheese wrapping is one of the best methods for preserving cheese. You must make sure that the wrapping of the cut cheese is very tight. This way you avoid the formation of an air chamber between the cheese and the film. This air chamber allows for the growth of unwanted molds to proliferate it, which can occur if the refrigerator has a high or very low humidity or if the cut is very dry.
2. Waxed paper or baking paper
This option is very similar to the previous one, but it is the paper usually used in butcher shops. If this option is hard to obtain then baking paper can be used since it has the same function. Always make sure that the cheese is well wrapped.
This type of paper protects the cheese from humidity and dry air. We highly recommend this option because it perfectly protects the cut and prevents the cheese from picking up any unwanted odor or flavor.
3. Airtight containers
Another alternative to conserve cheeses is airtight containers. However, be careful with this option when placing soft cheeses inside the containers because these cheeses can ferment due to the lack of oxygen. It is advisable to place a piece of paper towel at the bottom to absorb all the liquid and moisture that may be released by the cheese. This paper should be changed every 2 or 3 days as it can ferment and smell bad.
4. Damp clothes
This was the method used by our ancestor to preserve cheese. Damp clothes or rags are perfect for preserving cheeses that have mold on their surface.
5. Olive oil
This consists of submerging the cheese in a container with extra virgin olive oil. This method will change the flavor of the cheese, but it is one of the most effective and was used when refrigerators did not exist. In addition, if you want to give it a special touch, you can add aromatic herbs such as rosemary, oregano, basil, etc. Then after you finish the cheese and are left with the remaining extra virgin olive oil, it can be reserved in a glass jar and used as a dressing for salad, pasta, or even on toast. It has a very rich cheese flavor that adds a little extra something to the previous suggestions. This is a good trick that we do all the time because we like to take advantage of everything and not waste food. This is a part of the Mediterranean cuisine!
6. Glass cheese preservers
The last option is to use glass cheese preservers to preserve cheese. If you select this choice then be careful since the cheese is more exposed. If the environment is very humid then you can put some dry chickpeas or a bit of uncooked rice inside to absorb the excessive humidity. This will avoid or delay the humidity that may appear in the cheese. However, in most cheeses, especially hard cheeses, the fact that some mold appears in the cut does not mean that the cheese has spoiled. It is perfectly possible to remove the moldy part with a knife and continue enjoying your favorite cheese without any risk to your health.
Can we freeze cheese?
This question creates quite a lot of controversy, and there are all kinds of opinions on this subject. So, can cheese be frozen? Yes it can be. But is it advisable? No.
If you decide to freeze cheese, you must consider that it will lose flavor and texture when thawed. Hard cheeses will crumble when cut and soft cheeses will become grainy. To avoid this, you can freeze it in portions. This way you will only defrost what you are going to eat.
Always treat the cheese before eating it
Although we have recommended that you always keep the cheese refrigerated at varying degrees depending on the type of cheese, it is important to remember that before eating it you must leave a portion of cheese out of the refrigerator at room temperature for at least half an hour. This is because you will be able to fully enjoy its flavor and organoleptic properties.
We hope that all these tips and tricks help you to preserve your cheeses at home. We hope you share any special tips that you have with us in the comments.
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