So, you’ve got your cheese. Now what? We have made, matured and cared for it as best as we can, but now it is over to you. The simplest thing is to just eat your cheese and enjoy it right away, but if you want to keep it, read on.
Our artisan cheese is different and needs to be treated differently to most commercially produced cheeses. It is hand-made and varies with each day’s production; it also changes each day as it matures. As a result, there are no simple rules for looking after it. You need to look at the cheese regularly, touching it and smelling it to see how it is behaving. You can resort to the refrigerator, but the cheese will invariably suffer if you do. If you do need to use the fridge, wrap it well or it will dry out.
Most real, artisan cheese is happiest in a damp cellar. Unfortunately these are hard to come by nowadays – especially if you are travelling! So, try and achieve cellar-like conditions to store your cheeses. Our customers have told us they use garages, spare rooms, car boots, shoe boxes… you might need to be creative to find the right place!
All of our cheeses keep best between 10˚ - 14˚C. This is the temperature we mature them at and therefore this is the best temperature to keep them at when you get them home. Warmer than this and the cheese will sweat, ooze oil from the cut surface, feel pappy and smell stronger than usual. The visual warnings for cheese stored too cold are less obvious, but the cheese will taste and smell bland and inert. In the interests of flavour you are almost always better erring on the warmer side for cheese storage – this might mean buying smaller pieces and storing them for less time.
If you need to slow down the ripening in order to keep the cheese longer, store it in a cooler place (never less than 5˚C), having wrapped it well. However, don’t forget to return it to room temperature before eating to allow the flavours to revive.
Humidity is even more important than temperature. Most cheeses should be kept at a relative humidity of 80% or more. If you don’t have a hygrometer at home or in the glove box, then you are back to touching, smelling and looking. These are the signs to look out for:
- If the cheese is thick with mould, the atmosphere is too wet. A light bloom on a cut surface, however, is a sign that the atmosphere is nice and humid
- If cracking occurs, then the atmosphere is too dry. Cracked, dried-out cheese is difficult to rescue. If it has not gone too far try covering it with a damp cloth
- Most cheeses are too dry. Combat this by wrapping the cheeses properly and keeping it in a small cardboard box. This creates a nice damp microclimate.
Our cheeses are living breathing things. Wrapping them in plastic will cause them to become soggy, sweaty and smelly. Left uncovered, they will dry out. Our cheeses are best kept wrapped in breathable papers that help to achieve a balance between these two extremes.
Some of our cheeses, like Tom and C2, are often bought by our customers as a whole cheese. As there is no cut surface to dry out or mould over, these keep better than a wedge of cheese. You can, if you are careful, mature these cheeses further at home for a few months to develop the flavour. Store them in the same conditions as described above with additional instruction of giving them the occasional wipe with a damp towel to reduce the mould development.
Confused? Cheese misbehaving? Do not hesitate to send us an email or call us.