Tasting, Buying, and Storing Cheese Article - Allrecipes.com
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Tasting, Buying, and Storing Cheese

Learn the basics about choosing cheese.

Buddy Up to Your Senses

Don't be shy with your cheesemonger. Be bold. Ask for a taste. Ask for recommendations. The cheesemonger will likely cut a thin slice that goes from the rind to the center so you can taste the full range of textures in the wheel. Hold the sample in your hand and take a good sniff. It is amazing what the aroma brings: a strong-smelling cheese might taste remarkably mild; or you might smell the grassiness of a pasture. Feel the cheese with your fingers. The cheese in the shop is probably cold; the warmth of your fingers will release a lot of flavor. Put it on your tongue and breathe again; the aroma will change. Let it melt on your tongue. Chew it slowly and enjoy the blossoming flavor from beginning to end.

    Live in the Moment and Take Notes

    You might want it all, but try to limit yourself to tasting only a couple of cheeses at a time, from mild to strong. Ask questions. What kind of milk is it? Is it a fresh cheese or an aged one? Why is the rind crusty or bloomy, and is it edible? Is this mold a good sign? Who makes this cheese, and how does it reflect its location? Every good cheese has a good story. Make notes.

      Hit the Books

      Don't miss the opportunity to read about cheese. It is an endlessly fascinating subject. Once you really get the bug, you might try making your own cheese. Begin with a simple acid-coagulated cheese, like paneer, crème fraîche, or yogurt cheese.

      If you want to go further, call your local supplier for home brewing equipment and see if they carry the cultures and supplies you need.

      Handling and Storing Cheese

      Here's the best advice for storing cheese: don't. Instead, take home small portions and visit your friend behind the cheese counter more often. If that’s impractical, then remember this: a good cheese is still alive, needs to breathe, and suffers if it loses too much moisture. When it comes to storage you’re trying for cave-like conditions, so the best place to store in the refrigerator is the vegetable drawer.

      The best cheese retailers cut just to order and use a two-layer French cheese wrap (composed of an inner, perforated plastic layer and a printed paper outer layer). If your cheese comes in cheese wrap, leave it that way. If your hand-cut cheese comes in a plastic wrap, liberate it. Wrap it loosely in wax paper or parchment, then place in a resealable plastic bag. Blue cheese can be a little weepy, so wrap it in foil before you place it in a bag.

        Oct. 15, 2009 7:43 am
        what's with the adage, even the mold doesn't like my cheese?
        Dec. 6, 2009 6:27 pm
        Interesting and helpful...who knew?
        Dec. 12, 2009 7:09 am
        Unfortunately, before I read this I bought a LARGE container of shredded parmesan. Can I freeze a portion of it? I find that I don't use it all up before it turns blue somewhere in the "middle" and then I have to throw the whole container away. The containers of grated (dry) parmesan is nice to put "in" things, but I preferred the fresh shredded "on top".
        Dec. 17, 2009 7:02 pm
        Babyboo, you can freeze it. If you don't use it often, just keep it dry in the freezer. It keeps long time. Actually when I have a chance to buy cheese for good price I freeze it in blocks in which I will use it (i.e. for pizza, cooking etc.). More fat in the cheese, better it will freeze. Camembert for example -you can take out day before and serve as it. Nobody can tell the difference from fresh. Many cheeses freeze well. Some become crumbly and are best for cooking or cheese ball. You have to try it out. You can always cook with it.
        Jan. 1, 2010 10:12 am
        I have an extra cheese ball from new year's, will it do okay if I freeze it?
        Betty B 
        Feb. 20, 2010 10:30 am
        Learning how to take care of cheese is wonderful, the tasting is great and taking lots of time to really get the full flavor. Learning where and how its done is an education for all of us Wonderful
        Apr. 9, 2010 12:45 pm
        How bout brie, how long will it keep?
        Apr. 17, 2010 7:29 pm
        I use my foodsaver and have saved my very expensive french cheeses for up to a month (or two), depending on the type of cheese. I LOVE my foodsaver!!
        May 16, 2010 4:57 pm
        How about freezing shredded cheese, such as motzarella? spelling?
        Lorrine G. 
        Aug. 9, 2010 6:48 pm
        what can antbody tell me about Stilton Cheese?
        Nov. 2, 2010 7:04 am
        Lorrine I believe it is a type of blue cheese. Watched Barefoot contessa on food network and she mentionrd that stilton is a good blue. There may be many types but blue is one (I Think)
        Dec. 13, 2010 9:23 pm
        Can anyone advise me of an alternative to feta. I will check with the cheesemonger at my supermarket, but would like an opinion from authentic cooks. Thanks in advance.
        Dec. 29, 2010 8:17 am
        I heard or read that cheese keeps better in tin foil. It seems to work for me, in the fridge!!
        Jan. 22, 2011 2:46 pm
        I don't like either ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. Is there a substitute?
        Feb. 13, 2011 9:37 am
        Lorrine, Stilton is a type of blue made in England from milk enriched with cream. It is said that combines the subtle flavor of Cheddar with the sharp flavor of blue. As with all cheese, the flavor changes with the type of milk used to produce it. Two wonderful books on cheese and cheese making are: Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll and The Cheesemaker's Manual by Margaret Peters-Morris. Check them out at you local Library.
        Mar. 12, 2011 2:39 pm
        I wrap my more potent cheeses with a moist paper towel and put in their own thicker ziploc bag.
        Apr. 15, 2011 10:58 am
        I stock up on shredded cheese when it is on sale. I throw it in the freezer & let thaw at room temp. Comes out great. Just like fresh!
        Apr. 15, 2011 11:30 am
        does brie hold long in the refrigerator?
        Sep. 10, 2011 2:20 pm
        What about freezing mac and cheese made with a white sauce? Now that I cook for one I need to freeze a lot of things.
        Nov. 8, 2011 12:06 pm
        wow good advice never knew!!
        Mar. 10, 2012 3:21 pm
        Can you freeze mac and cheese?
        Apr. 20, 2012 1:30 pm
        Hi,Kattykat and Erma, I have been freezing up mac and cheese made with white sauce or cheese for years and have never had a problem with it. I usually wrap in single serving portions, 1st wrap in glad or cling wrap and bag up in freezer bags. The same holds true for larger portions, aluminum foil works also. Hope this helps you.
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