If you have gone to effort to smoke your cheese, it is worth learning how to correctly store it.
Storing correctly can prolong the shelf life and keep your cheese as fresh as the day it was smoked.
Long-term storage requires a little more than just throwing in the dairy drawer of the fridge.
Smoked cream cheeses, hard cheeses, soft cheese, or any type of specialty cheese can be stored indefinitely if done correctly. Take care of your cheese by following a couple of easy steps.
Have You Tried Smoking Cheese?
Smoking cheese is a much easier process than many may believe. It has a unique smoky, nutty flavor unlike any commercially bought cheese, guaranteed to impress any cheese lover.
There are several smoking processes – the cold smoke method, heat smoking in a charcoal smoker, or smoking wood chips.
How to Store Smoked Cheese
If you’ve home-smoked your cheese, regardless of the actual smoking process, it’s best to rest it before preparing for long-term storage.
Allowing time to rest after the smoking process gives the smoky flavors time to permeate the cheese, giving it a stronger flavor rather than just sitting on the surface.
Wrap in untreated butcher paper or cheese paper or wrap the cheese in cheesecloth and place in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, up to two weeks to allow the smoke flavor to penetrate the cheese completely and produce a wonderful smoky taste.
Regardless of the type of cheese, here are some simple ways to prepare for storing:
Vacuum sealers are wonderful for long-term storage, they work by drawing all the air out of the storage bag and sealing it tight. It’s what we use when we sous vide salmon or steak
By reducing the air around the food, you cut the exposure to bacteria and other elements that cause deterioration in just about any food product. A tight seal also retains all the moisture and flavors of your cheese.
Vacuum pack machines are simple machine that comes with specific bags. Place the cheese into the bag, load the open end into the machine and select the setting required – moist or dry. Once the air is extracted, it will then seal the bag and the cheese is ready to label and store. Cheese blocks can be stored for up to a year in vacuum packaging in refrigeration.
If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer, there is an alternative.
A good quality plastic freezer bag will do the same job, the important thing is to remove as much air as possible before sealing. A simple technique to do this is to submerge the bag underwater.
Place the block of cheese in the bag, and gently submerge the bag underwater, leaving the top open edge above the water level. Take care not to let any water into the bag. The pressure of the water will force excess air out of the bag. Seal the bag and remove it from the water.
If the thought of water is overwhelming, just lay the bagged cheese flat and gently compress down with your hand around the block of cheese to push the air from the bag. Go back as many times as needed to remove as much air as possible.
Hard and semi-hard cheese may benefit from being wrapped in a layer of parchment wrapping paper before bagging.
Waxing the Cheese Blocks
Waxing is another alternative to preserving blocks of cheese for long-term storage. Waxing is best for hard cheeses, free of moisture.
The blocks of cheese should be free from any contaminants before dipping in the wax. Cut into desired portions, wipe with vinegar, and dry with a paper towel.
Let it rest to room temperature and dry the surface again. Surface moisture will prevent the wax from sticking to the cheese.
Melt the wax in a double boiler, and dip the cheese in the melted wax, covering half. Set aside to dry, then repeat with the other side.
Repeat the process three times to completely seal and cover the chunks of cheese. Waxed cheese can last years at a cool temperature.
Make Sure Your Labeling The Cheese
The most important step in the long-term storage of food is to properly label the packaging. It is very easy to lose track of how long something has been in storage.
Careful and correct dating and listing the contents means you know exactly what batch of cheese it is, the flavor profile, when it went into storage, and when it should be used.
Food preparation labels have all the information needed – date prepared, food item, batch, flavor, date to use by, etc – and are guaranteed to temperature extremes, so you won’t have loose labels floating around.
Can Smoked Cheese be Stored in the Freezer?
Correctly seal and packaged cheese can be stored and its recommended to be used within 6-9 months, without affecting the lovely smoky flavor. You can freeze all types of cheese, once sealed.
Tightly sealed cheese packaging is most important. It prevents any freezer burn damage from occurring or excess air entering the packaging, keeping the amazing quality and smoke flavor intact.
When it comes time to defrost, leave the cheese in the plastic wrap it was stored in to help retain the flavor and moisture as it thaws.
Ideally, this should be done in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, then gently bought down to room temperature.
Investing a couple of hours and a bit of effort will ensure you have some tasty smoked cheese for platters for months to come. All you need is the crackers and a bottle of red!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
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