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Waxing cheese

Up until recently we vacuumed sealed all our cheeses.  This seemed like a terrible waste of the plastic bags, as you can't really use them again, and as our vacuum sealer lives at the back of a kitchen cupboard, it was also a real pain.  I had a chunk of cheese wax, but I was too scared to use it.  Then when Molly had her first calf, I was making so much cheese, I decided to just give waxing a go.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is very quick and easy to do.

eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses

eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses


This site has some good step by step instructions.  The method I use is to pain the wax on the cheese with a cheap paintbrush.  I would like to dip the cheese, but I didn't want to dedicate one of our big pots to wax, so its just in a little pot.  The part that I always found confusing was the step between taking the cheese out of the cheese mold and waxing and storing the cheese, so, after a lot of trial and error, here's what I do:
  • Press the cheese overnight, in the morning take the cheese out of the mould, rub both sides with sea salt and leave the cheese on top of the upturned cheese mould, covered by the cheese cloth I used to press it in, to allow it to dry out.  You need to form a rind before waxing, so the cheese needs to dry.  
  • Depending on the temperature in the kitchen, I might turn it and leave it another day, otherwise I put it in the fridge in a tupperware container that has a raised rack so that the cheese can continue to dry.  I have to check this daily, drain the container and add more salt.  It doesn't work as well as air drying, but if its really hot and humid the cheese goes mouldy out in the kitchen!
eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses
messy wax pot
  • As soon as the cheese has dried out and formed a rind, I wax it and put it away, otherwise I tend to forget about it and the cheese gets moist again.  If this happens, rather than waste the cheese, I often just cut off the mouldy bits and wax it anyway (probably not recommended, but hate to waste anything).
  • To wax the cheese, I put the wax pot on the stove on a low heat until melted and spread out newspaper on the benchtop (this gets messy!), then I take the cheese from the fridge and hold it in one hand while painting every part of it that I can with wax.  It doesn't take long for the wax to set, literally seconds, then I can flip it over and pain the rest.  Then I check for any bits that I missed.  
  • I write a quick label with the date and type of cheese (most of them are Romano though) and stick that to the cheese with wax.  Then I put it in the cheese fridge.  The hardest part after that is remembering to turn the cheeses in the fridge every few weeks.
We usually take a cheese out of the fridge and grate the entire block, and then store that in bags in the freezer.  Its then very easy to grab some cheese to use in cooking.

Have you tried waxing cheese?  Or storing it another way?  Any tips?

Comments

  1. Great tips Liz. I also wax most of my cheeses, except for the very moist ones like Cotswold and Caerphilly. I filmed a nice little video tutorial that I posted at Little Green Cheese: Waxing Your Cheese. Nice and easy, and similar to your method.

    Gav

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  2. As usual Liz you have laid out the information in an easy form. Well done.

    The technique we use for drying cheese prior to cheese coating seems to work very well with the resultant cheeses not having excess moisture when opened nor being too dry. Once the cheese is salted it is put on a cheese mat to drain for 24 hours then a paper towel is folded to the size of the cheese and placed beneath to absorb liquid. Each cheese has two paper towels. One drying the cheese and one being dried before reuse. These two towels are alternated until the moisture on the towel does not form a full impression of the cheese. The towels are then composted. At this stage the cheese coating (PVA) step starts and when two coats are applied to the top half of the cheese it is flipped over and the bottom half done. The PVA provides a better surface for the wax to adhere. The PVA step can be left out but we found the wax was more fragile and easily penetrated when handled. And then finally the wax and label applied and into the cheese refrigerator to age. As Liz says protect the work surfaces with newspaper. No matter how careful you are there will always be a few splashes or drips.The dedicated saucepan is large enough for small rounds but with larger ones we use a one purpose only paint brush.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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