How to Wrap and Store Cheese
I've had a number of SE'ers here ask for my advice on storing cheese, and luckily it's not too hard to keep your cheese happy until it's consumed. I've got a particular wrapping technique for cheese storage that I hope everyone will find useful.
When I worked as a cheesemonger, we always advised our customers never to store their cheeses in direct contact with plastic, and not to wrap them too tightly. There's some science behind this, as kitchen scientist extraordinaire Harold McGee writes in his indispensable kitchen reference, On Food and Cooking. There are, McGee says, three essential reasons to avoid tight plastic wrap. First, any kind of tight wrapping will promote the growth of bacteria, including those not native to the cheese, which can cause food-safety issues or off flavors. Second, tight wrapping prevents the dissipation of natural off odors, like ammonia, which is produced by bacteria native to the cheese. Finally, cheese, being mostly oil and fat, is able to absorb flavors and chemicals from the plastic, which you definitely don't want.
So what's a better alternative? At Cowgirl Creamery, we sold cheese wrapped in waxed paper, which I recommend, as does McGee. If you're worried about your cheese drying out, you can then wrap it loosely in plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag that's not fully sealed, but remember to leave a way for ammonia and other unpleasant chemicals to dissipate. Here's a pictorial guide I put together on what I consider cheese-wrapping best practice.
How to Wrap and Store Cheese
Say you've bought an excellent cheese—in this case Moonglo, a lovely washed-rind goat's cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm that, for some reason, the shop has seen fit to wrap completely inappropriately. You've got to deal with that.
You're going to need a piece of waxed paper, a piece of cheese, a roll of scotch or masking tape, and, possibly, a small plastic bag. The waxed paper should be a rectangle about twice as wide as your cheese wedge is long; the length should be 3 to 4 times that measurement. This is not an exact science, so don't stress out about it too much.
Place your cheese on the paper about two-thirds of the way up. Place the cheese cut-side down on the paper, so that the sharp, narrow end faces right and the thick, blunt end faces left. Unless your cheese wedge is from an exceptionally large wheel, it should have rind on at least one of the top or bottom sides.
Pull the bottom right-hand corner of your waxed paper up over the piece of cheese so that it pulls tightly against the bottom of the cheese and lays flat across the top.
Still holding the paper tightly over the cheese, pull the right-hand side of the paper over to the left, forming a tight crease over the pointy end of the cheese (on the right side). Use a small piece of tape over the side you just folded over to secure the first two folds.
At the top of the cheese there is now a double sheet of paper kind of flopping over. Take that piece and crease it sharply over the top side of the cheese, so that it runs flat along the top of the cheese and then meets and runs flat with the paper that is underneath the cheese.
Fold the now-triple piece of paper at the top of the cheese back over the cheese, and secure it with a piece of tape. Your cheese should now be starting to look something like a culinary Christo piece.
The only loose flaps of paper should be those sticking out over the blunt end of the cheese. Just like you're wrapping a birthday present, fold two corners in, and the other two corners over them, and secure the whole mess with another piece of tape. Hey! Your cheese is wrapped. Sweet.
If you're at all worried about the cheese drying out, stick the whole thing in a plastic bag, but don't seal it or seal it only part of the way.
Your cheese, wrapped this way, should be good for 5 to 8 days. But, if you're anything like me, it won't have to last.