Cheese Wax and Waxing FAQs
Can I use paraffin wax for my cheese? Paraffin is very brittle and does not come off easily after the cheese is aged. It cracks and leaves small pieces all over the surface of the cheese that need to be cut away. When we started off making cheese in 1978, paraffin was all that was available, so that is what we used. However, the results were disappointing. Next, we tried to mix paraffin wax with vegetable oil in a 50/50 ratio. This was a little better, but still very crumbly. Then we found actual cheese wax, from a large scale commercial location, we were amazed. It was soft and pliable and easily peeled off the finished cheese. We melted, strained and reused it over and over again.
What color wax should I use? Color for wax is a matter of choice! Some traditional cheese cause for specific colors to use, because that is what has been used for generations.
Can I use bee’s wax? You can use beeswax for aging cheese! The drawback to beeswax is the price, and it can be brittle. We suggest adding a small amount of vegetable shortening, to the wax, when melting. Check out our Bee's Wax option here!
How do you create a smooth, commercial look with waxed cheeses? Heat cheese wax to 225-230°F, always stay close by when heating wax, it will combust if heated too high.
Dip your cheese with two to three passes. Hold it firmly by one edge (the narrower part), dip and hold for 6-10 seconds, this is the time needed to flash any mold spores that could grow under the wax. You may need to rock it back and forth in the wax for good coverage, but never touch the bottom of the pot.
After the first dip, allowing the wax to drip off the edge of the cheese. Flip the cheese so that the waxed edge is up and hold it there until it cools. Then, carefully set it on the un-waxed side so that it does not roll, do not touch the newly waxed surface. Allow the cheese to sit until it has cooled so you can handle the newly waxed surface without leaving marks or peeling the wax.
Repeat the same process to coat the un-waxed side of your cheese. You may need to repeat this process one more time, if the cheese large in diameter. When done, allow your waxed cheese to cool.
Now, allow the wax to cool to 190-200°F and repeat the entire process to add another full coat of wax to your cheese. This will be a slightly thicker coat and will fill in any bubbles or pin holes from the first coat.
I just waxed my cheese, unfortunately, pinholes within the wax are leaking oil/butter fat. Is this a problem? The pinhole problem is quite common and can easily be resolved by applying two coats of wax. The small holes are caused by air bubbles during the waxing process, when you apply a second coat, they will get covered.
Your real problem may be what is leaking through the wax. Unless your cheese is sitting in a warm area, and it's just butterfat, the cheese most likely leaking moisture caused by late fermentation. This is can be from too much whey, containing lactose, in the curds when molding. This can be prevented in future batches by stirring the curds longer, increasing the temperature by a few degrees, and making sure you added enough culture to the milk and ripened long enough to convert the lactose to lactic acid.
My waxed cheeses are all developing mold under the wax. I am very careful with cleanliness. They are stored at 55°F in a wine fridge that I use for cheese. What might be my problem and do I need to do anything besides cut the mold off when I eat the cheese? Mold under the wax is either due to waxing at too low a temperature or leaving pinholes during the waxing. It may even be caused by small breaks or cracks caused by improper handling of waxed cheese.
If the situation is bad enough, remove the wax, scrape the surface clean and re-wax. If the mold growth is minor, you might just leave it and remove the slight mold when you are ready to eat the cheese.