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).
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.