Storing Cheddar Cheese Without Refrigeration

Contrary to popular perception, cheese does not need to be refrigerated in order to increase its shelf life. In fact, refrigeration in true terms did not even exist until post second world war. Until then, a cool and dark storage space is all that was required to store cheese. Cheese stays fresh unrefrigerated inside a cool pantry or a storage room for months at a stretch.

Staying fresh unrefrigerated only works for particular types of cheese. Specialty cheese that are soft in texture, cream cheeses in particular, are required to be consumed fresh and can only be stored under refrigeration. Unlike that, hard cheese like cheddar that are aged, do not need to be refrigerated. Cheese itself is classified as a preserved food and does not go stale upon storing it in conventional ways.

Refrigeration brings irreversible changes to the texture and even flavour of cheese, some more than the other, depending on the type of cheese. Specialty cheese like boccocini or marscapone needs to be stored by refrigerating, but most other types of cheese, especially hard cheese, will retain their flavour better without any refrigeration.

To store cheddar cheese without refrigeration, the cut surface of cheese needs to be wiped with white vinegar and then dried to remove all traces of vinegar. Next step is to wrap the cheese inside cheesecloth. However, special attention might be required, while soaking up the cheesecloth in white vinegar, making sure it is merely damp instead of wet. Merely wrapping up the cheese in cheesecloth is not enough. You have to lay the wrapped cheese inside the cheese paper, butcher’s paper, parchment or wax paper. Make sure you wrap at least two layers of paper and seal the whole unit shut using tape.

Once this is done, you can store the specialty cheese for extended duration without bringing any sort of harm to it. Make sure you do not keep it anywhere near a source of heat or under direct sunshine. If you are living in cold and dry places void of humidity, the cheese will be preserved for extended duration while maintaining its distinct flavour.

Well-matured sharp cheddar cheese works best for storing without refrigeration. These are drier and younger cheddars than normal and are ideal for long storage. The age old custom of rinsing cheese in white vinegar once every week can be practiced if you want to extend the storage duration further. Sometimes, you might observe mould on your specialty cheese. This is normal and can be cut away at a depth of 1 inch without any issues.