Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wax Coated Cheese

Also check the Waxing Cheese Update posted 1/14/10 here.

Did you know you can store cheese in your food storage without a refrigerator or freezer? Well, you can--at least that's what I was told by a lady in the food storage know, so of course I had to test it for myself (remember the sprouted wheat and the butter?).

Here's the short version: You can coat cheese in wax (approx 4 layers) and store it on a shelf, or you can buy Tillamook cheese and just stick it on the shelf since it's already in airtight, vacuum packed packaging. Start with mild as the cheese will age on the shelf and become quite sharp.

Now, on with my experience. Sometime last fall before I started this blog, I got myself a 5 lb block of cheese and proceeded to coat chunks of it in parafin wax. I tied cotton string around it and dipped it in a can of melted wax, then used a clean paintbrush to touch up the spots that didn't cover as well with the dipping. It ended up something like this.So now about 3-4 months later a friend of mine who also had tried to wax cheese said she checked hers and it was all moldy, so I got my cheese box out and checked my cheese and 5 of my 12 pieces had minor molding. The other 7 looked great. The molding was all where the string came out of the wax at the top. Hmmmm. Obviously a trouble spot. Since the molding was very minimal, I opted to cut it off and re-wax those spots on the cheese and put it back in storage rather than toss the entire chunk of cheese. So I cut off the strings and cut off the moldy spot much deeper than the mold actually looked like it was.
Then, using my parafin wax double boiler setup and my wax-brush (so dubbed after I first used it for waxing the cheese) I proceeded to repaint wax over the open cheese. This is NOT junk wax like I'd use for the egg carton firestarters. This is good clean parafin wax right out of the box from the store--it's going on my FOOD, I want good wax. Put on at least 4 layers--nice and thick. You can re-use the wax when you use the cheese, so it's not a one time use type of thing.
In the future, I will cut off the strings when I'm done waxing the cheese and paint over the spots where the strings exited the wax a number of times to ensure a good seal. Or for the cost of less expensive cheese and wax and time involved, maybe I'll just wait for Tillamook cheese to go on sale and buy that instead . . .

Pretty quick fix anyway. I put the cheese back in the box and we'll check on it again in a few months. :)

Don't forget to click Comments and keep reading! :)

17 comments:

Wendy said...

Great post! You might be interested in the post I did a month ago on waxing cheese. http://iprepared.blogspot.com/2009/02/waxing-cheese.html Most of the information is similar, but our instructor didn't use string. She also used "cheese" wax instead of parafin. I wonder if there is much difference in those waxes.

Angela said...

Wendy--thanks for the link! The lady that told me about it didn't say exactly how to do it, nor did she specify if there was a particular type of wax that had to be used, but dipping half at a time makes lots of sense--duh! :) Would save lots of hassle! Thanks for stopping by!

marci357 said...

I have taken unopened Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, wrapped it in a brown paper bag to keep light out, but a rubber band around that to keep the bag airtight, and stored it in a kitchen cupboard for over a year.

So far, I've never had a problem with it. It does age some and come out sharper, and sometimes some liquid separates, which I pour off when I open up the package.

No promise that this is safe - so try only at your own risk - but have done it for years :) A good way to get sharp aged cheese and the regular mild cheddar price. I have not tried this with any other cheese except Tillamook. This is done rather commonly in our area (Tillamook, OR)

Jeannetta said...

I have a cheese press on my "wish list." One place I looked at has cheese wax, "starters" for other kinds of cheeses, and whatnot. Now all I need is a cow.... :)

Krystal said...

I had no idea you could wax cheese for storage. How do you get the wax off when you want to eat it later?

Angela said...

Marci--that is great to know! Another friend has Tillamook on her shelf and said there was some separation and didn't know if it was okay or not.

Jeannetta--A cheese press would be very cool! I've not tried making my own cheese yet . . . another thing to go on the list of things to learn!

Krystal--the wax can be cut or broken and then it separates easily from the cheese--just kind of peels off like an orange peel.

Thanks for the great comments and questions!

Mariah said...

Angela, you are way too cool! I am going to try this and see how it works down where room temperature is 80.

Angela said...

Mariah--just start with one piece--you'll probably know within a month or so if it's going to work or not as fast as things grow down there. Don't know why it wouldn't work, it just might get sharp real fast at your temp, but the wax will seal out all the humidity. Can't wait to hear how it goes for you! :)

Jason Crowson said...

just wondering if you know whether or not you can do this with goat cheese?

also, enjoy your blog, but i was wondering if you might lighten the text a little, because of the red background i have trouble reading the black letters on it. just a suggestion.

thanks for the interesting info

Angela said...

Jason, thanks for stopping by! I don't know for sure, but would guess it would work with goat cheese as well. If you get ahold of some and try it, let me know how it works.

Also, there should be a tan background behind the words on top of the red back-background. email me at bighorn at etv dot net and let me know your system setup (like maybe the browser you use and the screen resolution and whatever else might help here) and maybe (not promising anything) I can figure out why the tan is not showing up on your computer! It would be horribly difficult to read on the red! Thanks again for the comment.

FarmerMechanic said...

Could you smoke the cheese first then dip it? I wonder if smoking it could help with the chance of mold showing up. The Trick would be figuring out how to smoke the cheese low temp so as not to melt it.

Sharla said...

That's good to hear about the Tillamook cheese. And my way is much easier than yours! ;) One question, did you taste it when you had it out. (if you said in your post I'm sorry I missed it)

Jason Crowson said...

thanks! i'm on super-slow dialup, and i guess it just wasn't loading at the time. just as i read your response the tan background popped up. sorry for the confusion. thanks for the good info. i'll be reading...

Angela said...

FarmerMechanic--I've never smoked anything (really), not even food :), so I really don't know if smoking it would preserve it longer. Might be worth an experiment if you can figure out how to smoke the cheese without melting it. Maybe put it high in the smoker where the heat has time to dissipate?

Sharla--I did not taste it--silly me! Don't know what I was thinking! I'll have to try some next time I pull it out.

Jason--I'm so glad the background showed up! To be honest I really am only half computer literate, so I wasn't sure what I was going to do to make it work! ;)

GrannyGriz said...

Just a tho't on smoking the cheese. When I smoke deer hides, the heat would ruin them too, so I have the fire/woodchips in one area and funnel the smoke through about 10-15 feet of horizontal pipe to cool it before it reaches the hide. You could use the same concept. Cool off the smoke before it gets to the cheese.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting! We have canned cheese stored, because I really can't imagine only eating powdered cheese. Waxing cheese is a great alternative or addition! I think, I remember my Dad talking about his mother waxing cheese and storing eggs in water glass.

Thanks so much for sharing this!
Joyce

Adhis said...

I have heard there is indeed a difference when waxing cheese with cheese wax as opposed to paraffin. The paraffin tends to crack and cheese covered in it tends to separate (the liquid someone mentioned already. I don't know why this doesn't happen with cheese wax.