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August 12, 2008 10:54 AM   Subscribe

How do I mail soft cheese without it ripening?

I'd like to mail some local cheeses from San Francisco to Philadelphia. It's summertime. I have access to the cheese inexpensively, so I don't want to order through a third party. How do I package it to keep it cool?
posted by ioesf to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
I overnighted some cheese to my parents once -- wrapped in layers of plastic with a cold pack that you can find in most grocery store freezer sections. The plastic will help insulate it and, obviously, the cold pack will help it stay fresh. How soft is the cheese? I sent some Humboldt Fog Chevre and they said it arrived fine but it was during cold weather which I'm sure helped.
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on August 12, 2008

A few times I've gotten those supposedly fabulous steaks shipped from Omaha. They come in a thick polystyrene box with a bag of dry ice, and arrive fully frozen. You just need to keep it cool for a few days. I think you'd be fine shipping it with one of those freezer packs. Put some insulating material between it and the cheese, so it doesn't freeze, wrap the whole thing with more insulation, like polystyrene, or even just bubblewrap, put it in a box and mail it Priority so it gets there in 3 days. Or Express which I think is 2 days.

Or, more simply, buy the most unripe cheese you can, and ship Express so it will arrive just nicely ripened.
posted by beagle at 11:04 AM on August 12, 2008

I was reminded that Godiva ships their chololate in a small foam cooler with an ice pack. I googled "small foam cooler" and check this out. For $8 -- seems about right!
posted by amanda at 11:05 AM on August 12, 2008

Wrap it in newspaper. Many, many layers of newspaper. Then, put it in a larger-than-the-cheese-sized box and fill the empty spaces with crumpled newspaper. If you want, toss a freezer pack in there. My uncle goes fishing in Alaska every six months, and ships his catches to himself back in Florida (where it is hot) using the newspaper method without any extra cold-making materials. They always arrive completely delicious and unmarred.
posted by phunniemee at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2008

Thrift Store Cooler-$3
Dry Ice-$2
Old T Shirts/Blankets-Free
Put cheese on top of dry-ice, seperated by blankets/shirts. Putting it below, even seperated, will likely freeze it. Make sure to dril a couple holes in the top of the cooler so you aren't inadvertently sending a dry-ice bomb through the mail.
posted by piedmont at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2008

What sort of soft cheese? Brie freezes amazingly well (I was initially sceptical but it does) and similar cheeses will probably behave the same way. Ship in polystyrene with ice-packs or dry ice and you should be fine.
posted by Hogshead at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2008

I've overnighted perishable food using frozen peas to keep it cool and newspaper/bubble wrap to cushion. Insulate the cheese from the freezer pac though, so that the cheese doesn't freeze.
posted by desuetude at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2008

Please don't freeze your cheese! Especially if it's something pretty delicate like a fresh chevre. But even if it's not, desuetude and others have to right idea - pack the cheese in something insulating, and then put coldpacks/frozen peas around it. Dry ice may be overkill.

Consider contacting the cheesemaker directly - they may ship it for you.

/former cheesemonger
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on August 12, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for the tips so far!

amanda, humboldt fog is on the list, but possibly some other cowgirl creamery selections as well. it sort of depends on which i would have faith in arriving ok. and great $8 link, thanks.

um, phunniemee, your uncle freezes the fish first, i presume?
posted by ioesf at 2:17 PM on August 12, 2008

ioesf: Oops, yes he does. Slight detail.
posted by phunniemee at 2:42 PM on August 12, 2008

iosef, please be aware that Humboldt Fog is widely available in Philly through DiBruno and Downtown Cheese and WholeFoods. Cowgirl Creamery's wonderful stuff is available too, but not as reliably -- it's a better choice for the wow factor.
posted by desuetude at 7:06 PM on August 12, 2008

The advice on freezing brie came from the owner of my local cheese-shop. French people have nodded in a unsurprised way when we told them what we'd done. It works.
posted by Hogshead at 12:47 PM on August 13, 2008

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