Storage for Cheese: Wholesale Cheese Storage and Handling

Joanna Okedara
Table of Contents
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    As a wholesale cheese distributor or cheesemonger, you know the importance of delivering fresh, flavorful cheese to your customers. Proper storage, shipping and handling of cheese is crucial in maintaining its quality and extending its shelf life. 

    Key Takeaway: With so many different types of cheese and storage methods, it can be challenging to know the best practices for your particular products. In this blog post, we will provide you with comprehensive cheese industry guidelines for storing and handling cheese. 

    If you are opening a cheese shop soon, then it’s important to know the best storage for cheese. From temperature and humidity control to cheese packaging materials and cheese accessories for labeling, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure that your wholesale specialty cheese stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible. 

    So, let's dive in and explore the best practices for cheese storage and handling.


    4 Factors to Consider When Storing and Handling Cheese

    When it comes to storing cheese, there are several factors to consider to ensure that the cheese stays fresh, maintains its flavor and texture, and doesn't spoil. 

    Here are some of the essential factors to keep in mind when storing cheese.

    1. Temperature and Humidity

    Temperature and humidity are two critical factors that significantly affect the quality and lifespan of cheese. Each type of cheese has its optimal temperature and humidity level, which should be maintained throughout the storage period. 

    In general, most cheeses are best stored at temperatures between 4-12°C (39-54°F) and at a relative humidity of 80-90%. However, certain types of cheese, such as fresh cheese, may require lower temperatures and humidity levels.

    1. Light

    Exposure to light can also impact the quality of cheese. The UV rays in light can cause cheese to age prematurely, resulting in changes in texture, flavor, and color. Therefore, it's important to store cheese away from direct sunlight or any other source of light, such as fluorescent or LED bulbs.

    1. Airflow

    Airflow is another crucial factor to consider when storing cheese. Cheese needs to breathe, but too much airflow can dry out the cheese, causing it to become hard and lose flavor. 

    On the other hand, too little airflow can lead to moisture buildup, making the cheese damp and potentially causing mold growth. Different types of cheese require varying degrees of airflow, and it's essential to store each type of cheese accordingly.

    1. Packaging

    The right eCommerce packaging is essential for preserving the quality of cheese during storage. Cheese can be wrapped in wax paper, parchment paper, vacuum-sealed plastic, or other materials, depending on the type of cheese. Some cheeses may require a specific type of packaging to allow for proper aging and maturation.

    Cheese Storage Guidelines

    Proper storage is the key to maintaining the flavor, texture, and aroma of cheese, which ultimately impacts the taste and appeal to your customers. 

    Here are cheese storage guidelines for different types of cheese, including soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, and fresh cheese.

    Temperature and Humidity Requirements

    Different types of cheese require different temperature and humidity levels for optimal storage. Here are the recommended temperature and humidity levels for each type of cheese:

    • Soft Cheese: Soft cheeses like brie and camembert should be stored at a temperature between 45-50°F with a humidity level of 80-90%.
    • Hard Cheese: Hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan should be stored at a temperature between 35-45°F with a humidity level of 70-80%.
    • Blue Cheese: Blue cheeses like Roquefort and gorgonzola should be stored at a temperature between 40-45°F with a humidity level of 80-90%.
    • Fresh Cheese: Fresh cheeses like goat cheese and feta should be stored at a temperature between 35-40°F with a humidity level of 80-90%.

    Storing Cheese in a Cheese Cave or Refrigerator

    A cheese cave is an ideal storage space for cheese, as it provides the perfect temperature and humidity conditions required for different types of cheese. However, not all wholesale cheese suppliers have access to a cheese cave. In such cases, you can store cheese in a regular refrigerator by following these tips:

    • Use the vegetable drawer to store cheese as it has a higher humidity level than the rest of the refrigerator.
    • Wrap the cheese in wax paper or parchment paper before storing it in the refrigerator.
    • Place the cheese in an airtight container or a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.
    • Keep different types of cheese in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination.

    Wrapping and Labeling Cheese for Storage

    Proper wrapping and labeling of cheese are essential to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage. 

    Here are some tips for wrapping and labeling cheese for storage:

    • Use wax paper or parchment paper to wrap the cheese. Avoid using plastic wrap as it can cause the cheese to sweat and spoil.
    • Label the cheese with the date of purchase and the expiration date.
    • If the cheese comes in its own sustainable eCommerce packaging, reseal it after each use to maintain its freshness.

    Cheese Handling Techniques

    When it comes to handling cheese, it's crucial to exercise care and caution to prevent damaging or contaminating the cheese. After all, cheese is a delicate food that requires careful handling to maintain its quality and flavor. 

    Let’s explore the proper handling techniques for cheese, including guidelines for cutting and serving cheese and proper storage of cut cheese.

    Proper Handling Techniques to Avoid Damaging or Contaminating Cheese

    Cheese can easily be damaged if not handled correctly. 

    Here are some essential handling techniques to keep in mind:

    1. Avoid Touching the Cheese with Bare Hands: The oils on your skin can cause cheese to spoil and develop off-flavors. Use gloves or a clean cheese cloth when handling cheese.
    2. Keep the Cheese Away from Contaminants: Cheese can easily pick up odors and flavors from the environment, so make sure it's kept away from strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic.
    3. Use Clean Cutting Tools: Ensure your knives and cutting boards are clean and free from any bacteria that could contaminate the cheese.

    Guidelines for Cutting and Serving Cheese

    Cheese is a versatile food that can be served in various ways. 

    Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when cutting and serving cheese:

    1. Cut Cheese at Room Temperature: Allow cheese to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to enhance its flavor and texture.
    2. Use the Right Knife: Use a sharp cheese knife appropriate for the type of cheese you're cutting. For example, a wire cheese slicer is best for soft cheese, while a hard cheese requires a sharp, sturdy knife.
    3. Cut Cheese into Small Portions: To prevent waste, cut the cheese into small portions and serve it on a platter.

    Proper Storage of Cut Cheese

    Once you've cut the cheese, proper storage is essential to maintain its quality and flavor. 

    Here's how to do it:

    1. Wrap the Cheese: Wrap cut cheese tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent it from drying out and to keep it fresh.
    2. Store in the Refrigerator: Place the wrapped cheese in a container and store it in the refrigerator. Keep it away from the door, which can cause temperature fluctuations.
    3. Consume Within a Few Days: Cut cheese should be consumed within a few days to ensure optimal freshness and quality.

    Cheese Aging

    Cheese aging is a critical step in the cheese-making process, and it can greatly affect the quality and flavor of the final product. Firstly, let’s explore the importance of cheese aging, the factors that affect cheese aging, and guidelines for aging cheese.

    Importance of Cheese Aging

    Cheese aging is a crucial process that allows the flavors, aromas, and textures of cheese to develop and mature. During aging, the moisture content of the cheese decreases, while the flavor and texture become more complex and nuanced. 

    This is because aging allows the enzymes and bacteria present in the cheese to break down the proteins and fats, creating unique flavors and textures.

    Aging also helps to preserve cheese by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Properly aged cheese can have a longer shelf life than fresh cheese, making it an ideal choice for wholesalers and retailers.

    Factors Affecting Cheese Aging

    Several factors can affect the way cheese ages, including:

    1. Cheese type: Different types of cheese require different aging conditions. Hard cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan typically require longer aging periods than soft cheeses like brie and Camembert.
    2. Temperature and humidity: Cheese must be stored in a cool, humid environment to prevent it from drying out and becoming too hard. The ideal temperature and humidity level will vary depending on the type of cheese being aged.
    3. Microorganisms: The bacteria and fungi present in the cheese can greatly affect the aging process. Some strains of bacteria can create unique flavors and aromas, while others can cause spoilage.

    Guidelines for Aging Cheese

    If you're a cheese wholesaler or retailer, it's essential to understand how to properly age cheese to ensure that it reaches its full flavor potential. 

    Here are some general guidelines for aging cheese:

    1. Choose the right cheese: Not all cheeses are suitable for aging. Choose cheeses that are specifically labeled for aging.
    2. Store cheese in a cool, humid environment: Cheese should be stored at a temperature between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 80-90%. A cheese cave or temperature-controlled refrigerator is an ideal storage option.
    3. Turn cheese regularly: To ensure even aging, cheese should be turned regularly (once or twice a week).
    4. Monitor cheese for spoilage: Keep an eye on the cheese during the aging process and discard any cheese that shows signs of spoilage.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Storage for Cheese

    What are the Two Best Ways to Store Cheese?

    The two best ways to store cheese are:

    • Wrap the cheese in wax paper
    • Store the cheese in an airtight container

    What is the Best Container to Store Cheese?

    The best container to store cheese is one that is airtight and the right size for the cheese. Options include plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, resealable plastic bags, or glass containers with airtight lids.

    How do you Keep Cheese From Getting Moldy in the Fridge?

    To keep cheese from getting moldy in the fridge, it's important to store it properly. If you do notice mold, cut it off before storing the cheese, and clean the storage container thoroughly before returning the cheese to the fridge.

    Now You Know

    Proper cheese storage is critical for maintaining the quality, flavor, and texture of your cheese. Whether you're a cheese lover, a food wholesale distributor, or a restaurant business owner, understanding how to store cheese correctly can help to extend its shelf life and prevent spoilage.

    Remember to check the cheese regularly for any signs of spoilage, and discard any cheese that is past its prime. With these tips and guidelines, your customers can enjoy their favorite cheeses at their best and savor every delicious bite.

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