Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tip of the Day: Keeping Cheese
This week has been dairy overload here at Greystone. Monday night we tasted Mexican cheeses (Panela, Oaxaca, and Queso Fresco) in Spanish Club. Tuesday night's Cheese Club meeting showcased fresh and aged goat cheeses from Vermont. Wednesday was a dairy tasting that involved buttermilk to skim milk and everything in between. In this photo, I'm trying yet another cheese- I can't remember if it was Vella Dry Jack, Farmstead Cheddar or Carmody. They're all blending together!
More important than just eating all these cheeses, however, have been the lessons in how to keep cheese in the refrigerator. Cheeses are actually living things; the bacteria in cheese respire and change the nature of the cheese, while preserving the cheese at the same time. So what's the best way to keep cheese?
If it's a fresh cheese (like mozzarella fresca, feta or mascarpone), keep it tightly covered to retain moisture, and store in the back of the refrigerator to keep as cold as possible. These cheeses are just one step away from fresh milk and should be handled similarly.
If it's a soft, bloomy rind cheese (like Stilton Blue, Brie, Camembert or Mt. Tam), wrap it in paper or perforated plastic wrap; these cheeses need to breathe. If they are wrapped tightly in plastic, their exhalations will cause condensation on the inside of the plastic wrapper and create new, different (i.e. bad for that cheese) types of mold.
If it's a hard cheese (like Cheddar, Gruyere, or Grana Padano), it's alright to enclose in plastic wrap. These cheeses aren't quite as alive as the softer cheeses, meaning their moisture content has pretty much run its course.
American writer Clifton Fadiman once said, "Cheese is milk's leap towards immortality." In respect for the gifts and pleasures of cheese, I think it's only appropriate that we help it towards immortality as best we can. It's just so darn good!