Cheese Care

To make sure you can enjoy Henning’s Cheese for as long as possible and still tasting fresh, here are some tips for cheese handling and storage.

How should cheese be stored?

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 odors from transferring to other foods.

How do I prevent cheese from molding in the refrigerator?

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.

Henning’s Cryovac Cheese:
Cut through the plastic, do not peel the plastic back so the plastic remains tight to the cheese.
When finished, wrap with a plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag, squeezing as much air out of the bag as possible.
Remember to take a slice off every couple of days to prevent air, bacteria and mold from affecting the cheese.
Henning’s Overwrapped Cheese:
Cheese that is found in specialty cheese counters and has been hand wrapped at the store has a very thin layer of protection and should be used within a short period of time (2-3 weeks). They are not meant to keep for extended periods of time.
Keep cheese tightly wrapped in waxed paper when you get home. This will allow the cheese to breathe and further develop without drying out.
When using overwrapped cheese, remove the entire wrap – discard – and use fresh wrap each time to rewrap the cheese – store in a freezer bag and squeeze the remaining air from the bag. Remove two slices of cheese a week to stay ahead of mold and bacteria growing.

How long is it safe to keep cheese?

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.

What does Best Used By Date mean on the packages?

The best if used by date is intended to tell you how long the product will retain best flavor 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. Certain cheeses may be consumed after the best used by date, like Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Parmesan etc. These types of cheese will continue to age past the best by date creating a sharper flavor cheese but are still safe to consume.

Is wrapping cheese in plastic safe?

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 flavor 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, discolored. 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 semifirm) 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 flavor the plastic may cause.

How do I sanitize my counters and cheese cutting equipment naturally?

Most household cleaners contain dangerous chemicals that emit toxins and pose a threat to everyone’s health. Vinegar is 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 Ecoli on various countertop surfaces. Vinegar’s chemical properties make it a cleaner and sanitizer with several advantages:

• Biodegradable
• Easy to dispense and control
• Safe for stainless steel
• Less likely to leave harmful residues
• Pleasant clean odor
• Nontoxic and safe

Vinegar will also remove odors 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.

Where does vinegar come from?

Vinegar may be derived from several sources – most common are fruits and grains, such as apples and rice, but it is even made from wood and roots. You are probably familiar with vinegars made from fruit juice. The juice contains sugar that ferments into alcohol, changing the juice into wine.

What a surprise to the cook who stores a bottle of wine under the kitchen counter then opens it to find the sweet wine has turned to vinegar! That’s the natural process it takes – given the right conditions, the alcohol in the wine changes to vinegar – hence, the name, “wine vinegar”.

Can Henning’s Cheese be kept out of refrigeration for display?
My cheese arrived warm; what should I do with it?

Refrigerate the cheese upon arrival. Although the cheese may be warm, it can still be consumed.

My cheese got moldy; should I throw it away?

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. You may even choose to shred the cheese once the mold is removed and put it into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer until needed for another recipe. Make sure you are removing a slice or two every week to help prevent your cheese from molding.

What are the strings that I may occasionally find on the cheese?

The strings are from cotton cheese bandages that are used by traditional artisan cheese makers. 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 the cotton 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 Henning’s.

What is the best way to melt cheese?

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.

What is the best way to microwave 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.

What is the best temperature for serving cheese?

The flavor 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. However, 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.

What is the best way to shred cheese?

Cheese will shred more easily if well-chilled. It can also be placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before shredding.

Can you make cheese last longer by freezing it?

To keep curds and whips fresh for longer periods of time, place in smaller freezer bags and freeze. Microwave on defrost for short periods of time till curds and whips are warm.

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 be more crumbly while softer cheese will separate slightly. The nutritional value will remain stable.

Tips for freezing cheese:

Freeze pieces of 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.