CHEESE CARE AND STORAGE
Berkeley Bowl sells a lot of cheese every day. For efficiency’s sake, much of our cheese is cut and wrapped individually in plastic wrap for customer convenience. When you get it home, there are different ways of storing your cheese for maximum freshness.
First of all, only buy what you think you will eat over the course of a couple of days. While many cheeses can handle extended stays in your refrigerator, many are best eaten sooner than later.
We recommend that to keep your cheeses lasting as long and as fresh as possible, put them in the section of the refrigerator where you can control the humidity and minimize the air flow which can dry out your cheese; older cheeses like Parmesan can handle a bit of moisture but younger, softer cheeses will lose moisture quickly. Best practice? Wrap loosely in butcher paper or waxed paper so the cheese can breathe, then place it inside a (preferably) glass container. If plastic wrap is all you have, change the wrapping every couple of days.
If mold appears on some of your harder or medium-hard cheeses, simply scrape or cut away those bits. If some mold or discoloration appears on a soft-ripened cheese (like a brie) and or it is turning into something with the consistency of soup or Elmer’s Glue, best to toss into your compost bin (you have a compost bin, right?)
FETA CHEESE can be kept in a glass or plastic container in a brine solution (roughly one part salt to eight parts water) OR you can actually put the cheese in MILK which can reduce its saltiness. Either liquid should keep your feta fresh for up to three months! Simply change the liquid should it start to get cloudy.
GOAT CHEESE is soft more often than not and pure goat cheese unopened can last for several weeks in your refrigerator unopened; less so if herbs or other flavorings are added. One trick to extend the life of your goat cheese is to put it in a glass container (or plastic) and pour olive oil over it. This not only helps to keep the cheese fresh but adds new flavor nuances. Try adding herbs or honey as well in this case if you’re inclined.
Always try to bring your cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving, or even longer (up to a couple of hours) depending on the time of year, temperature, etc. This allows for the cheese to fully express its taste and character at room temperature—in simpler terms, it will taste much better! If one hour is not possible, then 15 minutes…20 minutes…whatever you can manage!
Go wild with it! Usually 3-5 cheeses are recommended for a cheese plate, preferably with each cheese having its own serving tool. Try a different cheese from a few different countries, or a mix of cow, sheep, and goat’s milk cheeses. Most commonly it’s fun to have one soft-ripened cheese, one hard cheese, and one medium-firm cheese. One tip: don’t be afraid of blue cheese; it’s becoming more popular all the time and more and more people are delving onto cheese’s ‘dark side’. Use your imagination and have fun.