You don’t have to reside in Wisconsin to be an avid cheese lover. While some people swear by gourmet cheeses, cheddar cheese is a tried-and-true food that people devour. Figuring out how to store cheddar cheese to stay fresh for as long as possible isn’t always as easy as placing it in the fridge.
Any cheesemonger around the world knows the importance of storing cheddar cheese properly, regardless of where it comes from.
Finding the best way to store cheddar cheese depends on what the homeowner prefers. Knowing where to store cheddar cheese and other fresh cheeses makes a significant difference in the flavor of all your dishes.
Whether you make a charcuterie board, fondue, or even good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, all benefit from proper care and storage.
Storing cheese might not be high on your priority list, but we guarantee that these tips to store fresh cheddar cheese will add to your cooking repertoire.
Hard vs. Soft Cheeses
Who doesn’t love cheese? Of the options at the grocery store, it’s sometimes hard to decide which type to bring home. What is the difference between a soft cheese and a hard cheese? It depends on consistency and moisture content.
Hard cheeses are classified as cheese with less than 50 percent moisture content. Soft cheeses have a moisture content of over 50 percent.
Hard cheeses lose moisture when they go through an aging process lasting from one week to several years. Some hard cheeses are aged up to 40 years to develop sharper tastes and denser consistencies.
A cheesemaker uses milk as the base for all cheeses, but the milk doesn’t have to be from a cow. It also comes from goats, sheep, and sometimes buffaloes.
All cheeses start as soft cheese and then go through additional steps, like adding enzymes to harden the curds. They are washed with brine to create a hard rind or wax to protect the inside.
Some of the most well-known hard cheeses are parmesan, gouda, and cheddar. Store parmesan cheese and other hard cheese in the fridge or freezer.
Soft cheeses include brie, fromage, mozzarella, goat cheese, and camembert.
Some cheese types sit somewhere in the middle between soft and hard. Good examples of these cheeses are blue cheese and Swiss. Now that you know the main differences between the two types of cheeses, it is time to learn how to store cheddar cheese properly.
How to Store Cheddar Cheese
Finding the best way to store cheddar cheese is easy once you know your options. Regardless of what storage method you use for keeping cheddar cheese fresh, never keep it in the original packaging. There are much better ways to keep cheese fresh and extend the shelf life.
Where to Store Cheddar Cheese
Store cheddar cheese in the fridge instead of at room temperature. Cheeses are not safe when set on the counter for more than a few hours as it encourages bacteria to grow.
Even if you move them to the fridge, it might be too late, and your wrapped cheese might soon turn moldy. The fridge is the best place for storing cheese, but there is also a perfect location within the appliance.
The crisper drawer where you keep your veggies is the ideal place to keep your cheese. Some refrigerators have cheese drawers built-in, but this is the next best option.
Stop Using Plastic Wrap to Store Cheese
Although it seems like the right choice, storing cheddar cheese in plastic wrap or a plastic bag is not the best option. This includes the plastic from the original packaging.
The plastic not only suffocates the cheese and hinders the flavor, but the oils and fats start to soak up the taste of the plastic after some time. Instead, focus on preserving the cheesy flavor rather than using this easy solution.
The Best Way to Store Cheddar Cheese
Keeping the cheese fresh for as long as possible is the ultimate goal. Cheese bags and cheese paper are often available at your local grocery store and are the best way to store cheddar cheese.
These bags are porous and allow the cheese to breathe while still protecting it from air exposure. Cheese bags are a more expensive option, but there are plenty of other products and options, too.
Storing Cheddar Cheese Inside Wax Paper
Wax paper and parchment paper are the next best things to wrap around your cheese. If you use waxed paper, it is acceptable to use a plastic bag. This is one way to store blue cheese, too.
When wrapping your cheese, ensure that you don’t cover it too tightly or too loosely. If you wrap it too tight, it might throw off the flavor. Too loose, and it dries out and turns into a hardened clump.
Carefully wrap your paper around your block of cheese and then place it inside a plastic bag that is only partially sealed. If you don’t have a plastic bag, aluminum foil or an airtight container are other good options.
Replacing the Wrapping
Some cheeses sweat and leave moisture on the outside of the block. To keep the cheese fresh, try to replace the paper every time you unwrap it. Reusing the materials makes it less breathable, while wrapping it in new paper extends the shelf life.
Although it’s not typical for hard cheeses, some soft cheeses come in a brine solution that keeps them fresh longer. Store and keep feta cheese fresh in a brine.
It is possible to create a brine at home. Brining adds lots of salty flavors and discourages dangerous bacteria from growing on the surface. Brine is also customizable so you can change the flavor with things like spices, beer, and oils.
Pour room temperature water into a large container and mix in the salt so it thoroughly dissolves. Allow the brine to chill to 55°F in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Place your cheese in the solution and let it sit at room temperature for one hour before storing it in the fridge overnight.
Remove the cheese and brine from the refrigerator and put the cheese in an airtight container with a little bit of the salty water. How long is cheddar cheese good for in brine? Store the cheese in the fridge for up to two weeks past the expiration date.
Oiling Cheese Surfaces
Some people prefer to forgo plastic products altogether. Rubbing a light coat of canola, olive, or another vegetable oil on the cheese’s outside surfaces helps prevent mold growth. Store the oiled cheese in an airtight container in the fridge.
If mold does appear, it is growing on the oil and not on the cheese itself. It is easy to wipe the moldy spots away with a paper towel and rinse it under room temperature water.
Most cheeses cannot withstand the cold temperatures of the freezer. Ice crystals form within the cheese and throw off the texture and flavor. However, some cheeses are better for freezing than others.
Can you freeze a block of cheddar cheese? Large blocks of cheddar cheese are smooth throughout and suffer less damage than other cheese types. To store cheese in the freezer, keep it unopened in its original packaging or an airtight freezer bag.
How long is Swiss cheese good for in the freezer? Do not use frozen cheese that has been left in the freezer longer than three months. Thaw frozen cheese before cooking with it or using it in a dish.
Celebrating Cheddar Cheese
We all love a giant cheese board, but there is something about the sharp bite of cheddar that we can’t get enough of. Cheese sauces are delicious and versatile enough to put on sandwiches or mix into pasta.
We prefer a New York style cheddar cheese, but any sharp cheddar brand works perfectly for this recipe.
Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge. In a different saucepan, slowly melt the butter. When the melted butter starts to bubble, sprinkle in the flour and stir until light brown and thick.
Consistently whisk the warm milk into the flour and butter mixture and stir it until it thickens. Fold in the cheddar cheese until it is completely melted, and then season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. If the cheese sauce is lumpy, run it through a sieve.
Storing cheddar cheese isn’t as straightforward as bringing it home from the grocery store and putting it in the fridge. There are a lot better ways to keep your cheeses fresh and free from mold and other bacteria.
If learning how to store cheddar cheese the right way has stopped you from throwing it out, share these professional how-to-store-cheese tips on Facebook and Pinterest.