First rule of cheese storage: Do not directly wrap it in plastic! If the cheese comes in plastic wrap, remove it immediately.
Cheese storage is one of those confounding subjects. If you buy a really nice cheese, you don't want to ruin it with a lack of parenting skills, right? Perhaps you know how you shouldn't store cheese. But do you know how you should? Proper preservation of cheese is easier than you think.
The first thing to know: DO NOT store your cheese in plastic wrap! Wrapping cheese directly in plastic is the equivalent of flavor suffocation. Cheese is a living, breathing thing, and closing it off to air is just about the worst thing you can do to it. Plus, plastic wrap has a taste, and it takes just a day for that flavor to start making its way into the face of the cheese.
The best way to store your cheese is in cheese paper. The next best thing (and probably the easier way) is to wrap your cheese first in parchment or waxed paper, and then loosely in plastic wrap or a plastic baggie. This method provides a bit of breathability for the cheese without it drying out.
• Place the parchment or waxed paper flat on your counter with the wedge on top, and then bring the edges of the paper up and around the cheese, creasing as you go to make neat, clean folds. You can use tape to secure if you'd like.
• Label the paper with the cheese variety and date.
• A loose plastic wrap or a plastic bag over the paper generally keeps things tight (and keeps out fridge odors).
• Keep your cheese in the warmest part of the refrigerator, like in your cheese or vegetable drawer. An even better method is to designate a large tupperware container as your cheese home, where all of your cheese pieces can live.
• But don't forget about your cheese once it's in your fridge! Ideally, you should buy as much cheese as you think you'll consume in one to two sittings. Try bringing home small quantities more often so that so that you don't have to store it, since home refrigeration preys on those uneaten, forgotten wedges.
Note: Just in case someone is curious, the cheese shown above is a very delicious aged Gouda from Old Amsterdam. So good.
Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and for some time she was a Cheesemonger and the Director of the Cheese Course at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City. She is currently an assistant chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
Related: The Cheesemonger's Top Ten Rules for Ultimate Cheese Sanity
(Images: Faith Durand)