A guide to buying and storing cheese.
A guide to buying and storing cheese – answers to the most common questions we are asked over the counter at Ocello and at our regular Cheese & Wine Nights.
How much cheese should I buy?
There are a few factors to take into account here. Depending on how cheese-obsessed your guests are, we usually recommend a minimum of 100g of cheese per person. So, for eight people this would be around 800g minimum and we suggest you round up to a kilo if your guests really like cheese (think about it – you could easily polish off 100g of Brie on your own, right?). Divide this over four cheeses and it would look something like this: a whole camembert plus decent-sized wedges of three other cheeses, say – a washed rind, a rich, caramelised mature gouda and a creamy goat’s milk blue vein.
If there won’t be much other food (or if you secretly want to nibble on some cheese leftovers the next day) – you could add another cheese. If you are going to a party where there will be lots of other food, you can probably round down a bit.
How should I store my cheese?
When storing your cheese in the fridge it’s important to let the cheese breathe slightly, but also protect it from drying out in the low-humidity environment. Most of the time, we sell our wedges wrapped with a special cheese paper that protects the cheese in the fridge and helps it stay fresher for longer. We recommend you keep your cheeses wrapped in this paper and store them in a sealed container in the fridge. A great cheese paper substitute is a layer of baking paper, then a loose layer of plastic wrap.
It’s also best to store your cheeses individually wrapped. Keeping an unwrapped piece of blue cheese next to an unwrapped wedge of brie is probably going to result in a your brie growing blue mould in a few days time.
How long will this cheese keep for?
Every cheese is different and the answer to this question will depend on the style of cheese, how ripe it was when you bought it and whether it was pre-cut (not ideal), or cut from the wheel for you (better).
A general guide for hard cheeses: It’s best to buy your hard cheeses cut from the wheel for maximum freshness. They will usually last around 10-14 days depending on the style. Very hard cheeses, like Parmigiano will last for a few weeks at least.
A general guide for soft cheeses: Usually wedges of soft cheeses will last around a week. If the cheese was very ripe and oozing when you bought it, it’s best to eat within a few days.