Cutting and Storing Cheese
Q. What is the best way to cut and store a cheese wheel?
A. That depends largely on what you plan to do with it once you cut it. Once a full wheel is cut, things become a little time sensitive because dehydration and mold growth will become your biggest problems.
For cutting the cheese, it depends upon how large the cheese is and how much moisture it contains. High moisture cheeses of moderate size can be cut with a cheese wire, but drier cheeses will need a heavier tool like a two-handled knife. Cut size depends on where it's going.
Another big consideration is how to protect it before it is used by you or sold. Short term, you can use a simple cheese wrap, but for the longer-term, it needs something that will block moisture loss and prevent mold from growing. This is usually a vacuum packing of some sort.
Q. I finally sliced into two of the cheeses I made - Alpine Tomme and Colby. The Colby was nice and chewy with a very mild taste, lovely yellow color from the Annato Coloring, and lots of small holes. The Tomme had Emmenthaler-like holes, good deep yellow color and a very nice Gruyere-like nutty taste that improved with time in the mouth. My family and I ate about ¼ of each cheese.
What is the best way to store these partially eaten cheeses? Should I just cover the open faces and put them back in the basement, bag them in a zip-lock and put them in a fridge or something else? Does one of these techniques allow them to further mature?
A. The holes/eyes in the Tomme may be difficult to keep clear of mold. However, try re-waxing the cut faces and rubbing the surface to clear mold for both this and Colby.
The cheeses will continue to ripen, but you may need to cut away the face as mold grows. Also, try to not let them dry out.
Q. For some reason my Cream Cheese came out like a grainy chevre. I used raw goat milk from Nigerian dwarfs, so it has a high butterfat. How do I get a smoother, creamier texture?
A. Even though your milk is high in fat, you really need to add extra cream for a good cream cheese. Without the higher fat content, the curds will be lean, more like Fromage Blanc than Cream Cheese.
The other reason for a grainy texture could be excess acid production. Allowing the milk and curd to sit too long before cutting and draining can cause a grainy texture.