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Quick Tips for Buying and Storing Cheese

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Whether you shop for cheese at a large grocery store or a small, locally owned cheese shop, there are a few things you should always keep in mind. Knowing how to buy high-quality cheese, and how to store it, insures you will get your money’s worth.

Good Mold vs. Bad Mold

Photo by Jennifer Meier
When good cheese has gone bad, there are always warning signs. Blue, green, and even fuzzy mold on a rind are usually perfectly fine, but shades of yellow or pink indicate spoilage. Stay away from cheese that is bulging out of its rind or has a rind that is brittle and cracked. If the cheese smells strongly of ammonia, it’s not a piece you want to bring home.

Packaging is Important

Ideally, cheese is never suffocated for long periods of time under plastic wrap. Fairly quickly, the cheese will take on the flavor of plastic, and without any exposure to air, soft cheeses become soggy and hard cheeses will dry out. The best cheese mongers keep their wheels whole and cut fresh pieces to order.

Taste Before You Buy

The best part of buying cheese is the willingness of retailers to offer samples. Don’t be shy about asking to taste a cheese you are considering for purchase. This helps the retailer understand your palate so he/she can offer more helpful recommendations. Just don’t abuse the privilege; manners always count.

How Much to Buy

Buy a little bit, and buy often. The home refrigerator is not a friendly environment for cheese; the less time it spends in there, the better. Buy what you can consume within a few days. If you’re putting together a cheese platter for a party, a general guideline is 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person.

How to Store Cheese

Photo by Jennifer Meier
Refrigerators are too cold and dry to store cheese for long periods of time, but unless you have your own cheese cave with a temperature between 45-60 degrees and humidity of at least 80 percent, using the fridge is unavoidable. Store cheese in drawer compartments, which are the warmest and moistest part of the fridge. Wrap cheese in wax paper or set on a plate and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
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