Fonterra Food Services
resources : Tips and Hints
Storing Cheese
Specialty Cheese - Soft
There are three objectives when storing specialty cheeses:
1. To prevent drying out
2. To prevent cross contamination between cheeses and other moulds and yeasts
3. To preserve and ripen the cheeses
Special paper is often used to wrap whole wheels to help ripen the cheese during delivery. Once opened, wrap cheeses in clean cling film, taking care to cover the cut surface completely, and loosely covering the rest of the cheese.
To prevent the rinds from drying out and to preserve flavour, store the wrapped cheeses in sealed plastic containers using separate containers for blue, white mould and yellow cheeses.
Ensure all soft cheeses are kept refrigerated.
Specialty Cheese - Hard
Parmesan and other hard cheeses are easier to cut and use if stored at cool room temperature.
The key principle with storing hard cheeses is to remove the oxygen, which will slow down the maturing process. Simply wrap hard cheese in cling wrap or aluminium foil, away from high mould products (blue cheese/soft white mould cheeses). For longer term storage, vacuum packing or waxing is the best solution.
If mould does form on the surface of hard cheeses or the surface begins to dry out, simply trim the surface, leaving the good cheese underneath.
Shredded Cheese
Shredded cheeses generally have a free-flow agent added to ensure they don't clump together again. This agent can be mistaken for mould, as it is crystalline and white.
The best option for storage of grated cheese is often to freeze it (especially if a bag is not used within 3 to 4 days of opening). You can keep the cheese frozen or defrost it by placing it in the fridge and slowly letting it thaw.
Use cheese within 2 months of freezing.
Best Before vs Use By
The "best before" date is placed on all cheeses which improve "with age". Cheese like wine, is batch made and there are many elements that will influence how quickly each batch will mature.
When deciding on a best before date, a very conservative view is taken. Fonterra sets the best before date on the basis that the cheese will be at, or just over, the 'peak of maturity' on that date, and will satisfy most consumers. Therefore a cheese that is after its best before date may still be perfectly good. It is just a matter of taste. In fact, hard cheeses such as aged cheddar only improve with age as they ripen, providing the product has been stored under the stated storage conditions and the packaging remains completely intact.
Cheeses dated with a best before label can be legally sold after that date, providing the cheese and their packaging have not been damaged.
In contrast, the "use by" date can only be used on products which have to be consumed within a set period of time, have a short shelf life and do not get better with age.
This means fresh cultured products such as Bocconcini, Fresh Mozzarella and Fromage Blanc. Cheeses marked with a use by date are prohibited from being sold after that date.

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