We've described so many different cheeses, but we still get a few questions about storage and presentation - here are some quick answers for you.
How Long Is It Safe To Keep Cheese?Did you know cheese continues to ripen in your refrigerator – no matter how carefully you store it? That’s why you should enjoy soft cheeses soon after purchasing. Once opened, they’ll only keep for one to two weeks.
In general, harder texture cheeses remain fresh longer. Blue cheeses will keep for one to four weeks; Cheddars and Swiss for several weeks; and hard cheeses are usually good for several months.
Another tip: large hunks of cheese tend to keep longer than shredded varieties.
If Cheese Gets A Little Mouldy, Must It Be Thrown Away?Absolutely yes – if that mould appears on any soft cheese, like cream cheese or cottage cheese. However, there is a bright side: semi-firm or hard cheeses displaying a little mould can be saved and safely enjoyed. Simply use a knife to cut away the mouldy spots (plus a little extra for insurance). Then be sure to eat the cheese within a week.
Can Cheese Be Frozen?Yes, you can freeze your cheese to make it last longer. However, it will undergo a textural change. Softer cheeses may separate, and harder cheeses may turn more crumbly. The good news is, if you plan to use your frozen cheese in cooked dishes, you’ll hardly notice the difference.
To freeze cheese, double wrap it and keep in the freezer for no longer than four to six months. When ready to use, thaw the frozen cheese in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
Should Cheese Be Served Chilled Or At Room Temperature?It’s okay to serve cream cheeses like Boursin, Ricotta, and Quark slightly chilled, but all other varieties of cheese are best enjoyed at room temperature. That’s when cheese achieves the optimal level of flavour, aroma, and texture.
In other words, when you eat your cheese too cold, you’re missing out! To bring cheese up to room temperature, simply remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
Can Cheese Fit Into A Healthy Diet?Yes. When enjoyed in moderation, cheese can be a good source of essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, and protein. These key nutrients help keep your eyes and skin healthy, your muscles growing, and your bones and teeth strong. Recent research has even shown that eating a piece of cheese after a meal or sugary snack can restore minerals to tooth enamel and protect against cavities.
Which Cheeses Have The Highest and Lowest Levels of Fat?Each variety of cheese has its own nutritional profile. So if you’re watching your fat intake, it’s best to refer to individual cheese product labels for the fat facts. In the meantime, here are some very general guidelines:
High fat cheeses include Caerphilly, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester, Gouda, Gruyere, Lancashire, Leicester, Mascarpone, Parmesan, Roquefort, Stilton, and Wensleydale.
Medium fat cheeses include Brie, Camembert, Edam, Emmental, Feta, and Mozzarella, as well as many soft goat’s milk and processed cheeses.
Low fat cheeses include cottage cheese, Edam, Quark, and Ricotta. Of course, today cheese manufacturers produce many reduced-fat, low-fat, and even fat-free versions of your favourite full-fat cheeses.
What Is Processed Cheese?Processed cheese is typically a blend of fresh and aged cheeses combined with added colouring, preservatives, and emulsifiers (for smoothness and ease of melting). Pasteurised to stop the ripening process, processed cheese has a longer shelf life, but definitely lacks the distinctive flavour and texture of natural cheese.
Switzerland’s Walter Gerber first invented processed cheese in 1911. In 1916, James L. Kraft applied for an American patent for his processed cheese method. Today this type of cheese product is most often sold in individually wrapped sandwich slices and while fine for melting onto a burger, processed cheese is not what you want to serve with fine wine!
Why Doesn’t Reduced-Fat Cheese Melt Smoothly?Many reduced-fat cheeses are made with added stabilizers and gums to help simulate the creamy texture and taste of the full-fat varieties. These cheeses are great for snacking, shredding onto to salads, topping sandwiches, or eating “as is.”
When heated, reduced-fat cheeses don’t perform as well. That’s because the lower the amount of fat in a cheese, the more difficult it is to melt. Without a good amount of fat, the heated cheese won’t melt into the smooth creamy texture you’re used to. Instead, it will harden, scorch, or even turn into a clumpy, stringy mess.
To avoid this culinary catastrophe, use regular, full-fat varieties for melting (a little goes a long way!) Alternately, when cooking with grated or shredded cheese, try blending your reduced-fat cheese with a little of the full-fat kind.