We've listed a few of the most common cheese related questions and their answers.
Cheese should be refrigerated at temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees F in the original wrapping until ready to use. It is best stored in the refrigerator as close to the bottom of the appliance as possible - the vegetable compartment is ideal.
Once the cheese is exposed to air, mold and dehydration may occur. To protect the cheese from mold, always work with it in a clean area. Strong smelling cheeses like Limburger should be well wrapped and kept in a separate container to prevent odours from transferring to other foods.
Cheese attracts every kind of bacteria from your refrigerator especially things that begin to mold such as fruits, vegetables and other dishes.
Make sure you keep your refrigerator clean and free of moldy items. If items do mold remove items and clean your refrigerator.
Over Wrapped Cheese:
1. Over wrapped cheeses have a very thin layer of protection and should be used within a short period of time — they are not meant to keep for extended periods of time.
2. Keep cheese wrapped tightly and in an air tight container or bag removing as much air as possible. Air and bacteria is the main cause of cheese molding.
3. Take a slice or two off the exposed end of cheese every few days.
Cryovac Sealed Bags of Cheese:
Cheese in Cryovac sealed bags are shrunk and sealed tight to the cheese. Big Sky Cheese packages most of their cheese in Cryovac sealed bags for best results against mold and spoilage.
These bags have a superior barrier giving them a long shelf life. Air has difficulty penetrating through the bag which is a contributor to mold. When slicing cheese from a Cryovac sealed bag, cut through the plastic bag (do not peel the bag back) so the bag remains tight to the cheese, then plastic wrap the exposed cheese.
Place in a freezer bag squeezing as much air out of the bag as possible. As stated in step 3 above, take a slice or two off the exposed end of the cheese every few days to keep air and bacteria from growing on the cheese which can turn to mold.
Soft cheeses should be eaten soon after purchasing. As a general rule, the harder the cheese, the longer it will remain fresh. But remember, natural cheese will continue to ripen, no matter how carefully it is stored.
Hard cheeses will generally keep for several months, whereas softer cheese will keep from one to three weeks after opening, if stored in an airtight container. In addition, large pieces of cheese tend to keep longer that shredded cheeses.
Processed cheese slices are best if used within six months when stored in the original package at a constant 32 degrees F. Opened packages rewrapped tightly and stored between 30 degrees F and 40 degrees F are best if used within three to four weeks.
Cheese suffers enormously from being frozen so avoid freezing cheese if at all possible. Frozen packages opened and rewrapped tightly, and stored a 0 degrees F or below, are best if used within six to eight weeks.
The best if used by date is intended to tell you how long the product will retain best flavour and quality.
The term is not a safety date. Best used by dates are intended as useful guidelines. Some foods may deteriorate more quickly while other foods may last longer than the times suggested.
A number of factors can shorten the useful life of a food product, such as improper handling and inadequate storage.
Food products may be consumed after the best used by date if the product has been properly stored and handled especially harder style of cheeses.
Big Sky Cheese uses a Cryovac sealed bag for their packaging which gives their cheese a long shelf life. Once you open a Big Sky package, do not peel the bag farther back than what you will need. This will help with the life of the cheese and reduce the possibility of molding on the side of the package.
The package is designed to remain tight to the cheese. Once the package is opened try to remove one slice each week to retain freshness of product. Wrap the open end of the block tightly with wax paper or aluminum foil.
If you have purchased cheese that is overwrapped by a store you can re wrap it in aluminum foil or waxed paper (waxed paper being the best of the two), when you get home, this will allow the cheese to breathe and to further develop without drying out.
Once you've unwrapped a cheese stored in the refrigerator, the wrapping should be discarded, and the cheese should be put in a new wrapping. Reused materials won't reseal properly.
If you wrap your cheese in plastic wrap realize that it is a petroleum product and, after a period of time, the cheese will absorb some of the chemical aroma and flavour from the plastic
If the plastic wrap is in contact with the rind or interior of the cheese for too long, the cheese begins to suffer; it suffocates, becomes slimy rinded, and discoloured.
Plastic is not good for the cheese because it seals it in an air-tight environment, thus not allowing for any gasses or moisture to escape.
Cheese is a living thing, and it's very important for living things to breathe. The rule of thumb is that harder cheese will last longer than softer ones, with semisoft (or semi-firm) cheeses falling somewhere in between.
Trim a slice from the cut surface that's been next to the plastic before cutting to remove the off flavour the plastic may cause.
Most household cleaners contain dangerous chemicals that emit toxins and pose a threat to everyone's health. Vinegar is a well known nontoxic biodegradable sanitizer as well as a cleaning agent.
As a sanitizer it is effective against a broad range of bacteria, yeasts and molds, destroying or reducing these organisms to acceptable levels. Vinegar has been found to be effective as a rinse agent in reducing levels of E. coli on various countertop surfaces. Vinegar's chemical properties make it a cleaner and sanitizer with several advantages:
• Easy to dispense and control
• Safe for stainless steel
• Less likely to leave harmful residues
• Pleasant clean odour
• Nontoxic and safe
Vinegar will also remove odours from your refrigerator that can absorb into other foods. Use vinegar alone, or, combine 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water. Place in a spray bottle or bowl for easy access.
Certain cheeses can be left out of refrigeration but please read storage temperatures necessary to maintain cheese safety.
Refrigerate the cheese upon arrival. Although the cheese may be warm, it can still be consumed.
Mold may develop on the surface of cheese. Although most molds are harmless, to be safe, trim until the mold is removed. If the mold goes deeper continue to trim around the mold spot until you've removed all the areas of mold.
Use the remaining cheese as quickly as possible. To avoid cheese from getting moldy, try to use it within a couple of weeks after you have opened the product.
The strings come from cheese bandages that are on the wheels of cheese. This bandage helps bind the cheese together and helps the wax coating adhere to the wheels better. The bandage is also important for aging and gives our cheese part of its unique flavour.
These strings are mostly removed when the store cuts our wheels of cheese but an occasional strand may be overlooked.
Please remove these strings when you find them and be assured there is no problem with the cheese - it is a natural part of a bandaged style wheel of cheese from Big Sky.
Cheese cut into small pieces or shredded promotes more even melting in a shorter amount of time. When you add cheese to any recipe, cook on low heat, stirring constantly.
High heat will toughen cheese and make it stringy. When you are making a sauce with cheese in it, add cheese as the last ingredient and heat until just melted.
Processed cheese melts more smoothly than natural cheese because of the amount of water added to the processed cheese.
Remove the cheese wrapper and place on a microwave safe plate. Microwave at 30 percent of the desired time until the cheese reaches desired softness and/or temperature.
Check every 10 seconds to prevent overheating. Cooking times will vary among microwave ovens. Use this method to prepare cheese nachos without making the cheese tough.
The flavour of cheese is best when eaten at room temperature, so remove from refrigerator one to two hours in advance of serving time. Soft cheeses take a shorter amount of time to come to room temperature than firm and hard cheeses.
It is best to set out only the amount of cheese you will eat to prevent the cheese from becoming dry and tough from being repeatedly warmed and chilled.
Cheese will shred easier if well chilled; it can also be placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before shredding.
Fresh curds and Mozza Whips freeze well. If you are planning to keep them for a longer period of time, or if you order larger amounts, place small amounts in a freezer bag when freezing. Simply microwave them on defrost to enjoy warm curds and whips.
Shredded or grated cheese also freezes well.
Cheese blocks can be frozen, but we do not recommend it. A cheese block that has been frozen is best used as an ingredient.
Most hard cheeses and processed cheeses can be frozen; however, there will be changes in their texture. Semi-soft cheeses will become crumblier while softer cheese will separate slightly. The nutritional value will remain stable.
Tips for freezing cheese:
Freeze pieces of a half pound or less; Use moisture proof and airtight wrapping. Freeze quickly and store at 0 degrees F for two to six months. Thaw in refrigerator so the cheese won't lose moisture, the slower cheese is thawed, the better. Use as soon as possible after thawing.
The strings come from cheese bandages that are on the wheels of cheese. This bandage helps bind the cheese together and helps the wax coating adhere to the wheels better.
The bandage is also important for aging and gives our cheese part of its unique flavor. These strings are mostly removed when the store cuts our wheels of cheese but an occasional strand may be overlooked.
Please remove these string when you find them and be assured there is no problem with the cheese - it is a natural part of a bandaged style wheel of cheese from Big Sky.