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How to serve and store cheese

How to serve and store cheese - Visual

The way you prepare the cheese is important. Indeed, the taste of cheese is different according to whether one takes a piece from the middle or close to the rind.

How to serve cheese

To allow each guest to taste all the nuances of a good cheese, you must try as much as possible to distribute the interior and the rind equally for each piece. With this in mind, the cut must inevitably consider the form, which varies from one cheese to another.

Round or square
cheeses

If they are not very thick, cut small round or square cheeses as you would a pie or a cake. Never cut the “nose” of a wedge.

If the rindless cheese is thick enough, you can divide the wedges in half across the width.


Cheese
wedges

Slice the cheese wedges into parallel strips from either side, or cut into quarters.

Larger cheese wedges can be sliced in a fan shape, forming small even wedges.


Rectangular
cheeses

Thin, rectangular cheeses can be sliced parallel to the shortest side, or diagonally if you prefer to create wedges.


To Preserve all of the Flavour

The secret to good preservation is in the packaging. Whole cheeses should be stored in their original packaging. All the others would benefit from being wrapped in wax paper and then aluminum foil. Pieces of cheese bought in plastic wrap must be packed as soon as possible in wax paper. Avoid storing cheese in plastic wrap, which prevents the cheese from breathing and alters the cheese’s rind or interior. Firm cheeses can be stored wrapped in aluminum foil.

As a general rule, the packaging must seal the cheese to prevent it from drying. Of course, you should not remove the rind because it acts as protective coating to preserve the flavour. In addition, it adds to the visual pleasure and, in the majority of cases, it is edible.

Once suitably wrapped, your cheese can be placed in an airtight plastic container. This way it is protected from jolts and pressure, as well as from odours from other food or cheese. You can also store several kinds of cheese in the same container providing that they are the same type.

What you Should Know

No cheese benefits from being stored at home for too long. If you shop at a good cheese maker or reputable supermarket, your cheese should be at its best when you buy it. As such, it is preferable to consume it quickly.

The best storage temperature for a cheese is the temperature at which it was aged—about 10ºC to 15ºC—but only for a short period of time. Nonetheless, cheese will also keep well if stored in a refrigerator that provides a fresh and humid environment at between 2ºC and 4ºC, depending on the type of cheese. In that case, the best option is to store cheese in the vegetable drawer, away from other foods (and other cheeses) that release strong odours.

Be sure to remove cheese from the refrigerator one hour before serving, so that it can be eaten at room temperature.

How Long?

  • Soft cheeses - Visual

    Soft

    Packed well, they will preserve all their qualities for several days. For example, young Brie and young Camembert cheeses can be stored for a few weeks. On the other hand, from the moment they have been purchased, you can store them up to two weeks under proper conditions.

  • Semi-Soft cheeses - Visual

    Semi-Soft

    Stored in their original packaging, they can keep in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Cut pieces can be kept one week to one month depending on the cheese, as long as they are well wrapped.

  • Firm cheeses - Visual

    Firm

    They keep very well up to one month and sometimes more if they are well wrapped. These cheeses continue to age and develop stronger flavours.

  • Veined Cheeses - Visual

    Blue-Veined

    They have the best chance to be preserved when wrapped in a wet cloth, then sealed in an airtight plastic container.

  • Fresh cheeses - Visual

    Fresh category

    Two weeks, wrapped in plastic film, between 2 and 4°C.

And Freezing?

Sometimes freezing cheese is not recommended because its texture can deteriorate. However, freezing affects its flavour very little and generally doesn’t change the properties of cheeses used for cooking.

That’s especially true for firm cheeses like Cheddar, Swiss or Emmental, which store very well in the freezer after they have been grated.

  • To properly freeze cheese, wrap it in aluminum foil, then place it in a freezer bag with the air removed.

What about refreezing?

The Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec recommends not refreezing thawed foods, due to the proliferation of micro-organisms. Nonetheless, if the food has been cooked, it can be refrozen because cooking destroys the harmful micro-organisms. Cheese that was cooked after being thawed can therefore be refrozen.