30 July 2006

Extend the shelf-life of blocks of cheese

Jennifer got this from a grandma in the grocery store -- they are an excellent source of hacks!

As our kids got older, we started buying the economy-sized cheese blocks.  One day, a grandmother shopping with her grandkids gave me this hack:  take the cheese out of the plastic, and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil.  The cheese would last longer, and wouldn't get dried out at the open end.  To my surprise, it worked!  Now I cut the blocks into two or three smaller chunks, and use one at a time. We buy two blocks (mozzarella and cheddar), and they both stay fresh for at least 2 weeks.  I don't know how long they'll really last, as we use them up too quickly; perhaps someone else knows the shelf-life of foiled cheese?

I've written about freezing shredded cheese, which I swear by. Not sure how block cheese fares the freeze-n-thaw.

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I used to freeze shredded cheddar, but I got out of the habit. Since I aim to make homemade mac and cheese abut once per week, this would be the best way to store the cheese - it's got to be shredded anyway.

I definitely have to try the foil trick. I usually just put the cheese in a ziplock bag (and try to get out as much air as possible).

We use old plastic shopping bags and wrap the cheese tightly, with the same and much less expensive results.

Cheese freezes fine in a block, it usually just gets a little crumblier, which makes it hard to slice.

Has anyone tried vacuum sealing cheese then freezing it? We just got a vacuum sealer but haven't tried cheese yet.

Curses; Foiled again!

.. How could I resist?

Funny. Our family has been using foil to wrap cheese forever, and it never occurs to me that there are people who don't do it. Then again, my parents grew up in Wisconsin, where the general populace possesses an above-average sophistication in cheese hacks.

We're avid cheese eaters. And cheese certainly lasts for several weeks with the foil than without. We actually just leave it in the plastic and just cover the end up with foil. It works great! Especially with the large block bulk store cheeses. Before I think we were cutting off mold and dumping cheeses a lot more often. As far as we can tell works for just about any cheese, hard or soft.

One thing we do around here that really helps allot, we use the old tried and true Tupperware, now wait a moment I know I know, there is to much air, but here is the trick, set a damp paper towel in the bottom of the container and a slice of apple.

The damp paper towel stops the ends from drying out (without making the cheese soggy and mushy) and the apple keeps the humidity level just right for the mold to not want to grow, what does grow will attack the apple slice first since it is much much more readily able to be lived in by the organisms.

I find this way a store bought 2 pound block of sharp cheddar (notoriously a pain for the hard edges and mold) will last about 6 weeks in the fridge.

When I open a block of cheese, I just recover the end that I sliced with the same plastic that it came in. Then I place a ziploc sandwich bag over that same end. It's easy and it's doesn't dry out.

My mom has always kept shredded cheese in the freezer. My DH got a vacuum sealing machine this year for hunting so we tried different foods like a block of cheese. We got the Costco-monster sized blocks of cheddar and monterey jack. We froze them in the vacuum sealed bags and they came out great. Let them thaw in the fridge about 2-3 days, and they taste and act the same as unfrozen cheese.

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