Thursday, January 14, 2010

Waxing Cheese Update

Had to use some of the waxed cheese from storage the other day and thought I'd update the cheese waxing post.  Here's some thoughts on the waxing cheese experiment:

This was my first attempt at waxing cheese.  It worked pretty well.  To do it again, I'd skip the strings and just dip half the cheese block at a time.  The strings made it too easy for air to get in.  I might also get cheese wax if it were available somewhere (which it isn't around here, but I could probably order some).  Cheese wax has the advantage of being thicker and more flexible than parafin wax.  After waxing my cheese I put it carefully in a small box so it would not get bumped which could break the more brittle (but less expensive and more readily available) parafin wax I had coated it with.  I started with store brand mild cheddar cheese as I was told the cheese would age on the shelf.  Here is the same cheese earlier today (approx 1 year + 3 months spent waxed in the non-climate-controlled food room):

It is still edible and did not go moldy on me.  However, it aged more than a little.  This stuff is so sharp I about can't eat it.  If you like super sharp cheese, this is the way to get it.  I think the dog might get most of mine though.  The cheese had gotten drier and more crumbly and liquid separated and was inside the wax so when I cut the cheese open quite a bit of liquid came out.  You can kind of see the texture of the cheese in this next picture.

About 6 months ago I also purchased a block of Tillamook Colby cheese.  I'm not a cheese expert, but colby is pretty darn mild.  It was in the shrink wrap wrapper, so I put it right on the shelf as it was.  (Sorry I didn't get a picture of this before I opened it, I needed it for dinner the other night and didn't want to hunt down my camera).

It "expired" last September.

This block was only about 6 months from purchase (why I did not sharpie the date on it when I bought it I do not know) and had been in my uncooled food room since it came home with me.  The first thing I noticed was it had changed shape.  It used to be squarish on the ends and it settled into a squatty loaf.

The second thing I noticed was that instead of having the wrapping tight against the cheese, there was "air" in the package.  I'm assuming this was some kind of gasses released by the aging cheese because if it was air, the cheese would have molded long ago.  When I got it opened I noticed some minor separation of something on the side of the cheese, but overall the cheese was still a good texture and easy to slice and work with.

It was still quite sharp.  Not nearly as sharp as the year + old cheese, but borderline too sharp for just eating (at least for me).  I did use it for our homemade mac n cheese and it worked out fine.  I could taste the difference, but nobody else made any mention of it tasting bad (and believe me, my kids are not shy about telling me when they don't like something).  We'll eat the rest of this loaf.

So now the moral of the story.  Waxing cheese works.  Buying Tillamook shrinkwrapped cheese and storing it on a shelf works.  However, the cheese ages a lot faster than I thought it would.  I'd only reasonably store the cheese I would use within 4-6 months for better flavor.  Learning to make cheese would be a good thing.


PrepperMom said...

Wow , I had never thought about that. Thank you VERY much for sharing

Carol............. said...

Great info...thanks!

We LOVE cheese!

The Girl in the Pink Dress said...

Wow, I never thought of waxing cheese, though I've had dutch cheese a lot. Great idea! My DH would love your sharp cheddar- I honestly don't know how he eats it.
The Girl in the Pink Dress

HermitJim said...

Another informative article...thanks my friend!

Jill said...

I wonder if this would work for other shrink wrapped cheese?

Angela said...

PrepperMom-I just learned about it before doing the first cheese and the gal that told me about it sure didn't give very detailed instructions!

Carol-We love cheese, too.

Pink Dress-Too bad he's not closer, I've got a handful of this super sharp cheese. The cat doesn't like it, but the dog is okay with it.

Jim-Just trying to help ;) Thanks for the comment.

Jill-It probably would. As long as there isn't any air in the package with the cheese. If you've got a brand that's shrink wrapped that's not Tillamook, I'd get me a little package and set it on the shelf. You'd know pretty quick if it doesn't work ;)

marci357 said...

I've been doing the Tillamook cheese here for close to 30 years now... but I always put it in a brown paper bag wrapped with a rubber band on it to make sure all the light stays away from it. Not sure why - that's just how the locals here in Tillamook taught me to do it :)

The liquid that separates works fine in your mac and cheese - at least that's how I use it up :)

My usual is the Tillamook Cheddar baby loaf.

Melonie said...

Awesome info - thanks for sharing! I'd love to try this but everything molds really quickly here in our humidity, even in the cooler storage room. But when we get back to the States I'm definitely giving this a try! :-)

dicity said...

Wow, this is interesting and I'm gonna try it for myself. I bought some of the parmesan cheese in the jar at Wallyworld and it's not nearly to the expiration date and when I opened a jar the other day, it was not good. Now I have to take it back. Thanks for this info.


Anonymous said...

That's worth knowing. I never gave any thought to waxing cheese. I can get it in blocks with a heavy coating of wax on it at a local country store, but making my own might be cheaper.

Chef Tess said...

Awesome as always Angela!!

Leasmom said...

I second what everyone else said, I never thought of that!!!

The other Angela in Ferron said...

My parents used to sell cheese kits a long time ago. I still have a couple of the kits; maybe we can get together sometime and try our hands at making cheese. My sister has also been very successful at making mozzarella cheese.

Momnerd said...

I've still got my Tillamook downstairs. My brother in law was like Gross! What in the heck is that?! when we moved. But it's still there. The wrapping is all swollen and poofed out, sounds like yours was too. We love sharp cheese so maybe I'll use it soon and we'll see. Also interesting to note...we had mice downstairs and it got into some of the things in the same box as the cheese, but didn't touch the cheese. Guess they didn't know what was in there. lol

Le Loup said...

Good post, but why didn't you try beeswax?
Le Loup.

rashtra said...

can you tell me this, what is the ambient temperature (or temp range) of the room these were in. also did you turn them daily or weekly?

Thanks for your reply.


Angela said...

Eric, the room temp varies from 35-40ish in the winter time to 70ish in the summer. I did not turn them at all. I checked the waxed ones once before (shortly after waxing) and had to reseal some of the wax, but other than that they've been left pretty much to themselves the entire time.

mama4x said...

My store brand store is vacuum sealed... I think I'm going to try it. We eat a lot of cheese and this is a great post. Have you tried any dehydrated shredded cheese? I'm wondering where to buy it. Pleasant Hill Grain has some pretty decent looking canned cheese (something similar to a tuna can). Have you tried any of these?