How to Store Blue Cheese

Storing blue cheese correctly is essential to maintaining its distinctive flavor and creamy texture. When you store blue cheese properly, you ensure that you get the most out of its unique taste and extend its shelf life.

Blue cheese thrives in a specific set of conditions, which replicate the environment of the caves in which traditional blue cheese matures. This involves a balance of humidity and air circulation.

A block of blue cheese sits on a wooden cutting board, wrapped in wax paper, inside a refrigerator. A small container of baking soda is nearby to absorb any odors

To store blue cheese, begin by wrapping it in parchment or wax paper, which allows the cheese to breathe while still retaining moisture. This step is crucial to prevent the cheese from drying out, which can lead to a loss of the smooth, creamy texture that blue cheese is known for.

Once wrapped, place the cheese in a section of your refrigerator that maintains a higher level of humidity, such as the crisper drawer.

It is also important to keep blue cheese away from other foods to avoid cross-contamination and to prevent the cheese from absorbing other odors, which can alter its intended flavor.

If possible, use a container with a tight-fitting lid or wrap the cheese in plastic wrap to create an airtight seal. This additional protection helps preserve the quality of the blue cheese, ensuring that every bite delivers the sharp, tangy profile you expect.

Understanding Blue Cheese

Before diving into the types and characteristics, it’s important you know that blue cheese is renowned for its unique flavor and texture, which are greatly influenced by the presence of mold.

Types of Blue Cheese

Roquefort: Originating from France, Roquefort is a sheep’s milk cheese, characterized by its moist, crumbly texture and tangy, umami flavor. It boasts prominent blue-green veins resulting from the mold Penicillium roqueforti.

Gorgonzola: This Italian blue cheese comes in two varieties: Gorgonzola Dolce, which is softer and milder, and Gorgonzola Piccante, which is firmer and sharper. Both are made from cow’s milk and exhibit a creamy texture.

Stilton: Hailing from England, Stilton is a semi-firm cheese known for its rich, complex flavor profile. There are two main types, Blue Stilton and White Stilton, with the blue variety displaying the characteristic blue-green veins of mold.

Characteristics of Blue Cheese

Blue cheeses are distinct due to their salty, tangy flavors paired with a pungent aroma. The texture can range from soft and creamy to crumbly and firm, depending on the type and age of the cheese.

Flavor Profile: Your palette will detect a blend of salty, tangy, and sometimes slightly sweet flavors. The boldness can be mild for some varieties or sharp, especially in aged cheeses.

Aroma: The scent of blue cheese is as notable as its taste, often described as earthy and pungent.

The Role of Mold in Flavor and Texture

Penicillium: This is the mold that gives blue cheese its distinct veins. It is responsible for the unique flavor and creamy-to-crumbly texture variance in these cheeses. It’s added during the cheesemaking process and activated by air introduced via piercing the cheese with needles.

Flavor and Texture: The mold contributes to the tangy, sharp flavor and can also affect the texture, making it more crumbly or creamy depending on the variety. The interaction between the mold and the cheese’s fats also helps develop the pungent aroma characteristic of blue cheese.

Bacteria: Beneficial bacteria present in blue cheese, along with mold, are involved in the fermentation process, further developing its flavor and aroma over time.

Preparation for Storing

Proper preparation ensures that blue cheese’s quality is preserved. The right packaging materials and handling methods are crucial for maintaining freshness and flavor.

Choosing the Right Packaging Materials

Your selection of packaging materials directly impacts the longevity and taste of your blue cheese. Use cheese paper if available, as it is designed to protect the cheese while letting it breathe. If cheese paper is not an option, opt for parchment or wax paper to wrap the cheese initially.

Follow this by encasing the wrapped cheese in plastic wrap to create a barrier that prevents moisture loss yet still allows the cheese to maintain its required humidity levels.

For a more sustainable option, consider storing your wrapped cheese in an airtight container, which will also protect against strong odors in the fridge.

Avoid using only aluminum foil as a primary layer, as it can impart a metallic taste to the cheese.

  • Initial Wrap: Parchment/Wax paper
  • Secondary Layer: Plastic wrap
  • Alternative: Airtight container

Pre-Cooling and Handling Tips

Prioritize gentle handling and pre-cooling before storage to keep the integrity of the blue cheese.

Make sure the cheese is cool but not frozen, as extreme temperatures can harm its texture and flavor.

If the cheese was purchased in original packaging and it’s airtight and resealable, you can store it as is.

However, if opening the original package has exposed the cheese, it’s essential to rewrap it properly before placing it back in storage.

When choosing a storage container, select one that fits the cheese’s size as closely as possible to minimize the air space around the cheese, keeping it from drying out or absorbing other food odors.

  • Handle Gently: Avoid squeezing or pressing the cheese.
  • Pre-Cool: Ensure the cheese is at refrigerator temperature, not room temperature, before wrapping.

Optimal Storage Conditions

A cool, dark cellar with shelves of blue cheese wheels wrapped in wax paper, aging and developing their distinctive mold veins

Preserving the quality of blue cheese depends heavily on creating ideal storage environments in terms of temperature and humidity, proper containment, and selecting the best location within your refrigerator.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

Your blue cheese requires consistent cool temperatures between 35°F (2°C) and 45°F (7°C) to maintain its flavor and texture.

It is crucial to keep humidity levels between 70% and 80% to prevent drying out and to support the characteristic moisture of the cheese.

Consider using a hygrometer to monitor these conditions within the storage area.

The Importance of Airtight Containers

To extend the shelf life of blue cheese, it must be kept in airtight containers. This prevents unwanted moisture loss and protects the cheese from absorbing other flavors within the fridge.

For best results, first wrap the cheese in parchment or wax paper, then use an airtight container or heavy-duty aluminum foil to encase the cheese before placing it in the fridge.

Ideal Locations within the Refrigerator

Your fridge’s crisper drawer is the spot for storing blue cheese due to its ability to retain moisture and regulate humidity.

Alternatively, a specialized cheese grotto with a clay brick humidifier can mimic the conditions of a cheese cave, ensuring your blue cheese remains at peak perfection.

Avoid storing blue cheese in the door or top shelves where temperatures fluctuate.

Preventing Spoilage and Contamination

To ensure your blue cheese remains enjoyable, focus on identifying spoilage signs, managing moisture, and preventing cross-contamination.

Signs of Blue Cheese Gone Bad

Mold Differentiation: Although blue cheese naturally contains molds, be alert for non-characteristic mold, such as white, green, black, or pink. These indicate spoilage.

Odor and Color Changes: If your cheese emits a strong ammonia-like odor or displays off-colors beyond its usual marbling, it’s time to discard it.

Preventing Moisture Build-Up and Mold Growth

Storage Materials:

  • Wrapping: Begin by tightly wrapping your blue cheese in parchment or wax paper. This allows the cheese to breathe while retaining adequate humidity.
  • Sealing: Place the wrapped cheese inside an airtight container to protect against unwanted moisture and mold spores in the air.

Fridge Settings:

  • Crisper Drawer: Store your wrapped and sealed cheese in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer; this compartment is designed to maintain optimal moisture levels for perishables.

Cross-Contamination Prevention

Separate Storage: Always store your blue cheese separate from other foods to avoid flavor transfer and bacterial cross-contamination.

Utensil Hygiene: Use clean utensils when cutting your blue cheese. After use, wash these implements thoroughly before they contact other foods.

Long-Term Preservation Strategies

When it comes to extending the shelf life of blue cheese, freezing offers a viable solution. Proper techniques can minimize flavor and texture changes during long-term storage.

Freezing and Thawing Blue Cheese

To freeze blue cheese, start by wrapping it tightly in parchment or wax paper to protect against moisture loss. Then, seal the wrapped cheese in a heavy-duty freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

Your cheese can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

When you’re ready to defrost the blue cheese, transfer it to the refrigerator for a slow thaw, which helps maintain the cheese’s texture and flavor integrity.

  • Steps for Freezing Blue Cheese:
    1. Wrap in parchment or wax paper.
    2. Place the wrapped cheese in a freezer bag.
    3. Expel as much air as possible before sealing.
    4. Label with the date and store in the freezer.

Tips for Extending Shelf Life

When storing blue cheese in the refrigerator, it’s essential to create an environment that balances humidity and airflow.

The best way to do this is by wrapping the cheese in a breathable material, such as parchment paper, that allows for moisture control without being airtight.

Subsequently, place the wrapped cheese in a storage container with a breathable panel, and keep it in the crisper drawer.

This method helps to maintain quality while preventing moisture buildup and extending shelf life within the refrigerator.

  • Refrigerator Storage Tips:
    • Wrap the cheese in a breathable material.
    • Use a storage container with a breathable panel.
    • Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
    • Check for and manage any signs of moisture loss or excess moisture regularly.

Enhancing and Serving

When serving blue cheese, your aim should be to accentuate its rich and bold flavors.

Whether you’re pairing it with foods and wines or incorporating it into cooking, the right combinations can transform a dish into a culinary delight.

Pairing with Other Foods and Wines

  • Foods:
    • Nuts: Walnuts or pecans for a textural contrast and complementary flavors.
    • Fruit: Pears or apples to balance the tanginess with sweetness.
    • Breads: A crusty baguette or artisan crackers as a neutral base.
  • Wines:
    • Sweet Dessert Wines: A Sauternes or Port can offset the sharpness of blue cheese.
    • Bold Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel to complement the robust flavor.

Incorporating Blue Cheese in Cooking

  • Sauces: Add crumbled blue cheese to a cream-based sauce for a rich pasta dish.
  • Salads: Enhance dressings with blue cheese for a savory depth of flavor.
  • Main Courses:
    • Burgers: Melt it on top for a gourmet twist.
    • Pasta: Fold into warm pasta for an indulgent sauce.
  • Comparison with Other Cheeses:
    • Unlike brie, blue cheese adds a punchier flavor to dishes.
    • More assertive than delicate goat cheese in flavor profiles.

Labeling and Reusing

A hand placing blue cheese in a labeled airtight container in a refrigerator. A second hand reaching for a labeled container of blue cheese

Properly labeling your blue cheese and exploring its reuse can significantly enhance its storage life and culinary use.

The attention to detail in labeling can mean the difference between cheese that is enjoyable and cheese that has lost its optimal qualities.

The Importance of Labeling for Storage

When storing blue cheese, labeling is crucial. Write down the following details on a label:

  • Type of Blue Cheese: Different varieties have different shelf lives.
  • Date of Purchase: Track how long the cheese has been in storage.
  • Best Before Date: If available, note this date as a guideline for consumption.
  • Storage Location: Indicate where in the refrigerator the cheese is stored, ideally in the crisper drawer for proper humidity levels.

Here’s a simple table for your reference:

Label DetailDescription
Type of CheeseNote the specific variety of blue cheese.
Date of PurchaseRecord the date you bought the cheese or opened the package.
Best Before DateIf provided, write down this date.
Storage LocationIndicate it’s in the crisper drawer for proper humidity.

Food storage is not just about keeping things fresh; it’s about maintaining quality. Adhere to these labeling guidelines to ensure proper storage techniques.

Creative Reuse of Leftover Blue Cheese

Don’t let leftover blue cheese go to waste. Transform it into a cheeseboard highlight or integrate it into new recipes.

Blue cheese crumbles can enhance the flavor in:

  • Salads: A sprinkle adds a rich, tangy note.
  • Sauces: Melt into sauces for a creamy texture and bold taste.
  • Baked Goods: Incorporate into bread or scones for a savory twist.

Remember, food storage is as much about planning future use as it is about preservation. Private_storage, make room not just for the blue cheese itself, but also for your delicious blue cheese-laden creations.

Frequently Asked Questions

A block of blue cheese sits on a wooden cheese board, next to a small dish of honey and a knife. A refrigerator door is slightly ajar in the background

Proper storage of blue cheese is crucial for maintaining its quality and flavor. These questions address common concerns on how to best preserve your blue cheese.

How should blue cheese be wrapped for storage?

You should wrap blue cheese in parchment or wax paper, then encase the wrapped cheese in plastic wrap or place it in a resealable plastic bag. This combination allows the cheese to breathe while retaining moisture.

What is the best way to store blue cheese in the refrigerator?

The optimal storage method in the fridge is to keep blue cheese in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing other odors and flavors from its surroundings.

Also, try to store it in the cheese drawer or the warmest part of the refrigerator.

Can blue cheese be frozen for extended freshness?

Yes, blue cheese can be frozen to extend its freshness.

To freeze, wrap it snugly in foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap, and then place it in a freezer bag or airtight container. Remember to thaw it in the refrigerator before using.

What are the guidelines for storing blue cheese crumbles?

For blue cheese crumbles, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate. Avoid keeping them in the original packaging once opened to ensure they remain dry and do not clump together.

Is it safe to store blue cheese at room temperature, and for how long?

It is not recommended to store blue cheese at room temperature for an extended period. However, you can allow it to sit out for about one hour before consuming to enhance flavor and texture.

What types of containers are recommended for storing blue cheese?

Airtight containers are best for storing blue cheese, as they prevent the cheese from drying out and absorbing unwanted flavors.

Glass or plastic containers with a tight seal are ideal options.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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