Loose Wrapping

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Tight wrapping in plastic film is inadvisable for three reasons: trapped moisture and restricted oxygen encourages the growth of bacteria and molds, not always the cheese’s own; strong volatiles such as ammonia that would otherwise diffuse from the cheese instead impregnate it; and trace volatile compounds and plastic chemicals migrate into the cheese. Whole, still-developing cheeses should be stored unwrapped or very loosely wrapped, other cheeses loosely wrapped in wax paper. Stand them on a wire rack or turn them frequently to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. It can be fun to play the role of affineur and encourage surface or blue mold from a good Camembert or Roquefort to grow on a fresh goat cheese or in a piece of standard Cheddar. But there’s some risk that other microbes will join in. If a piece of cheese develops an unusual surface mold or sliminess or an unusual odor, the safest thing is to discard it. Simply trimming the surface will not remove mold filaments, which can penetrate some distance and may carry toxins.