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What do you do with your cheese?
March 22, 2008 9:07 AM   Subscribe

You bought some cheese - let's say a wedge of brie - that's packaged super-tight with saran wrap and the store item/ weight/ price sticker; and it's now time to eat it. Do you (a) rip off saran wrap/ sticker as best you can and afterwards repackage with fresh saran wrap, (b) rip off saran wrap/ sticker as best you can and afterwards store unpackaged in a cheese tray, or (c) ever-so-carefully peel off the sticker, stealthily unwrap the saran wrap, save it, and then repackage using the same saran wrap and reseal with the store sticker?

I do (c). I've always done (c). Last night whilst doing so I understood that this makes me a mental patient. Furthermore, if I'm eating a selection of cheeses, my kitchen table is covered in a selection of opened saran wraps waiting for their, uh, cheese babies to return to the fold.

I am single.

It's just that I like to open things carefully, and the wrap that comes off has a "shape" which matches that of the cheese. And clearly, doing so satisfies some anal region of my brain. That said, it's a royal pain in the ass to do, and oftentimes the wrap rips and then I'm screwed.

Anyway, I'd like to know (a) if I'm not alone, (b) what the consensus is for the best rewrapping/ packaging/ storing technique, and (c) if you do repackage with fresh saran wrap, do you then re-use that?

Bonus points for ingenious unwrapping techniques.
posted by forallmankind to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
My answer is (d): eat the entire wedge as quickly as possible, and come to regret it later.
posted by Prospero at 9:09 AM on March 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


wrapping it in saran wrap is kinda icky for the cheese in my opinion...I put it in a paper sack in its own drawer so it can breathe.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:12 AM on March 22, 2008


Huh. I almost always do (c), so I guess I'll have to join you in the asylum. That said, I've found a wide range of variation among different cheese-vendors in the elasticity of the wrapping they use, and the adhesiveness of the sticker. With cheese from some stores, the sticker will never unpeel, and the plastic is all brittle and weird, and I just go straight to (a), figuring life is too short.

There are people who store their cheese unwrapped?? Doesn't it dry out and become crusty and awful?
posted by Kat Allison at 9:12 AM on March 22, 2008


A. Except you don't use fresh saran wrap, you use waxed paper or I like that press-n-seal crap for cheese.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:12 AM on March 22, 2008


^ oh and yes, I do re-use the press-n-seal. You shouldn't use saran wrap because it suffocates the active cultures in the cheese, is the scuttlebutt.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:14 AM on March 22, 2008


I'm kinda with you on c, but not too careful about things, though... if the original wrap can be reused when it's time to put the cheese away, so much the better, but if not, I get out my own wrap or drop it in a ziploc bag before putting it back in the refrigerator's dairy area.
posted by mumkin at 9:19 AM on March 22, 2008


We usually buy cheese in multiples, for parties or a cheese tasting, so we do save the wrapper (and I have done c, many times) so that we can keep straight which is which for later. But most often, I put cheese, wrapper and all into a baggie. But that may change now; interesting link, DenOfSizer.

Seattle MeFites, see you at the Cheese Festival in May!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:25 AM on March 22, 2008


(d) peel off the sticker, and unwrap enough of the plastic to eat some cheese. When done, seal it back up, using a ziploc bag if necessary
posted by b1tr0t at 9:28 AM on March 22, 2008


I always do c, including the open saran wraps littering the table. If I am not careful enough with opening and the saran wrap rips I use new saran wrap.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 9:29 AM on March 22, 2008


Another vote for reusing the original wrapper and putting everything in a ziploc bag.
posted by brain_drain at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2008


Unless by some stroke of luck/genius I am able to perfectly reseal the cheese in its original wrapper, which happens about 1% of the time.
posted by brain_drain at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2008


Opened cheese, with the original wrap/sticker kept on, then put inside a Ziploc bag: That's my current practice. But the breathing thing is interesting:

SFGate graf on cheese breathing
Most cheese lasts longer if stored in a breathable wrap instead of non-porous plastic film. That's why the best cheese retailers send shoppers home with their purchases wrapped in coated paper. Now consumers can buy the same material for home use, for rewrapping cheese leftovers or any cheeses purchased in plastic film.

Formaticum cheese paper comes in 15-sheet packages, each two-ply sheet measuring 11 by 14 inches. The paper has a light wax coating on the outside to repel moisture and a porous film inside that prevents condensation on the cheese surface. The package ($7.50) includes 15 adhesive-backed labels so you can identify the cheese inside.
Formaticum cheese paper

From what I'm reading elsewhere, butcher paper also seems to work. The waxed side should be against the opened cheese. This and some plain label stickers sound like the low-cost pro method.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 9:33 AM on March 22, 2008


I do C and I'll toss the whole thing on a ziploc if there's some saran wrap disaster on the horizon. That said I live alone and I'm not much of a cheese afficionado so I don't have to make this decision very often. 90% of the time I'm eating cheddar and I wrap it in whatever supermarket bag I have handy.
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2008


I'm a C, although I've been trying to get into the habit of using waxed paper.
posted by slogger at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2008


Further reading:

The Caseophile: How To Wrap Cheese
posted by Jubal Kessler at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2008


I don't reuse the wrap because I figure it probably ended up with the inside touching the countertop at some point during the unwrapping process. So I rewrap very tightly with Saran wrap and often stick it in a ziploc bag for good measure. I don't know why it needs to breathe, to me cheese tastes awful if it gets fridge air on it.
posted by happyturtle at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2008


IAAFCM (I am a former cheesemonger).

Don't reuse the original wrap.

When possible (i.e., if you've got some around), re-wrap the cheese in coated "cheese" paper or wax paper. If it's only going to be in your cheese drawer for a day or so, it's okay to use a new piece of plastic wrap. Sometimes I'll reuse that piece of plastic wrap, though I know I shouldn't. The fat on the cheese will coat the inside of the plastic wrap and make it lose its wrapping-ness, so better to use a fresh piece.

If it's a really ripe soft-ripened cheese (Brie, chaource, etc.), wrap it loosely in wax paper and then put it in a plastic container with the lid not quite closed - this helps protect it from getting smushed.

When possible, eat all the cheese so you don't have to re-wrap it.
posted by rtha at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


There are people who store their cheese unwrapped?? Doesn't it dry out and become crusty and awful?

The cheese is not dead.

Wax paper and elastic bands are great.
posted by holgate at 10:29 AM on March 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


The cheese is not dead.

I had a French friend who said, "why do Americans always try to kill their cheese?"
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2008


I'm a ziplock bag girl, but this thread has been very educational.
posted by bettafish at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2008


Glad that rtha weighed in. I buy a lot of cheese from my local cheesemonger. (I know the guys from my cheese shop socially, too. We talk about cheese a lot.) It comes home in coated paper, so I can re-wrap in that. If the paper gets too mangled, I might transfer to fresh wax paper (gooey cheeses) or butcher paper (hard cheeses).

One exception -- blue cheese. The kind with lots and lots of yummy mold running through it. You could wrap this tightly in fresh Saran wrap, or the mold will wander over and start hanging out with your other cheeses.
posted by desuetude at 11:05 AM on March 22, 2008


I had a French friend who said, "why do Americans always try to kill their cheese?"

And the answer is embedded in holgate's link: because cheeses will try to kill you.
posted by mumkin at 11:08 AM on March 22, 2008


I use my seal-a-meal so I could be not letting my cheese breathe enough
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:11 AM on March 22, 2008


Wax paper, in an UNSEALED ziploc bag to kind of hold things together and keep it neat in the fridge, but open so it can breathe.

Cheese is alive! It needs to breathe! It's when you suffocate it that bad things happen.
posted by bink at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2008


Counterpoint: Steven Jenkins, the author of Cheese Primer, says
Though at one time I rallied against it, my feelings about plastic wrap have tempered over time, as the quality and consistency of this irreplaceable kitchen material have improved. [...] I now discover that after all my ranting and raving about it, plastic wrap really does a pretty good job. I must offer one caveat, however: If the plastic wrap is in contact with rind or interior of the cheese for too long (more than a week), the cheese begins to suffer [...] But guess what? Had you used aluminum foil, cheesecloth, waxed paper, or a combination of all three, you would have fared no better.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 11:53 AM on March 22, 2008


Hm, no one seems to have mentioned the technique I use: stick all the cheeses together in a tupperware-style box in the fridge. No unwrapping or rewrapping required.
posted by breath at 12:49 PM on March 22, 2008


Are you unwrapping and then rewrapping the whole cheese every time you want a morsel? I'm picturing a bunch of cheese wedges sweating for hours on a tray when really what you want is just a couple nibbles of each...just expose an edge, break off or cut off a little bit, put that on your plate, and return the rest to the fridge.

I usually put hard cheeses in paper, and soft cheeses in wax paper and sometimes saran wrap, when I bring them home from the store.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:12 PM on March 22, 2008


I you can't afford to board a scullery wench named Davonda to stand by with your cheeses in the pockets of her warm muslin apron, her beguiling scent of milk and alfalfa keeping your cheeses in peaceful daydreaming reminiscences of their blissful infancies, I suggest a covered ceramic cheese dish, or just you know, a casserole if you're even less fancy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:18 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you were French, this would be a different question. Page three of this article.
posted by Phred182 at 1:57 PM on March 22, 2008


C)

And don't have any saran wrap, only aluminum foil; but because of this thread, will be acquiring some wax paper today.
posted by Rash at 4:42 PM on March 22, 2008


My mom -- who knows food, and has cheese with cocktails every evening in front of the News Hour -- has a wooden dish with a ceramic top. It does a great job keeping the cheeses pleasant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:38 PM on March 22, 2008


I wrap it in parchment paper and stick that in a ziploc. Wax paper is too waxy for some delicate cheeses.
posted by mattbucher at 7:18 PM on March 22, 2008


I too have worked as a high-end cheese monger, and our advice to those who asked was that you should never use the same piece of plastic wrap to re-wrap your cheese. Use a fresh one each time.

The waxed-or-butcher-or-special-cheese-paper is fine for harder cheeses, but I would stick with a ziplock or plastic wrap for a soft cheese. A tupperware container would be alright, but I wouldn't leave it open at all. Air is not the friend of a soft-to-runny, pasteurized, Americanized cheese.

We also advised people to only purchase as much cheese as they would be using in one sitting; the average refrigerator does not maintain the correct moisture balance or temperature to keep young/soft/stinky/very-ripe/already-cut cheeses happy.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 8:30 PM on March 22, 2008


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