Having a well-balanced long term, shelf-stable storage inventory is important. We eat a ton of cheese in my house, so I decided to try my hand at waxing cheese for a shelf-stable pantry option. I’m experimenting, hoping for the same positive results as others.
There are different opinions on waxing cheese, and the government will likely tell you it shouldn’t be done. Knowing this, please wax at your own risk. As for me, I’ve done enough research and have seen a myriad of testimonies from other responsible, experienced preppers to feel confident.
I’ve been asked, what is wrong with just storing cheese in the refrigerator? Why wax? First, waxing cheese saves room in the refrigerator, and also waxing keeps cheese longer. If the electricity goes out for several days, you will have cheese. If you find a good deal on cheese, you can wax it to stock up. Also, it’s fun and a cool addition to your food storage.
Some would say only hard cheeses should be used for cheese waxing, but with the method I’ll be detailing, you can wax cheeses like cheddar. Expect your cheese of choice to get sharper with time – cheese waxing is how cheese artisans age their cheese. Now, they have “cheese caves” but if you have a cool, dry place to store your waxed cheese, it will be fine according to many who have successfully waxed cheese.
I waxed two blocks of mild cheddar, and plan to cut into the first block at the three month mark of mid-June. The second block will be sliced into at the 6 month mark in September. I will post updates when I experience results. If you want to try these experiments along with me, here’s how many people wax at home.
First, you slice the cheese into desired portions. If you are experimenting like me, try a small chunk. I did mine in 4 ounce blocks. Also, you MUST use cheese wax, and not paraffin wax. You can buy cheese wax in different colors – black, red and yellow. After dipping your cheese, you can just keep the remaining wax in the pot until next time. After taking the wax off your cheese, you can wash well and re-use. Here is a picture of how I’m keeping the remaining wax in an old pot, ready for re-heating. I keep plastic wrap around the top.
To start the process, leave the cheese out to dry overnight, which will create a dry exterior.
Next, plunge the cheese in white vinegar to kill any bacteria. While you are waiting for the vinegar to dry on the cheese, start heating your wax slowly, following directions accompanying your wax. I don’t have a double boiler, so I just used a trivet and 5 quart saute pan.
After the wax has melted, dip half the cheese block in the wax, and set it down on exposed side until wax hardens. (I didn’t get pictures of this because frankly being new at this it was a little stressful!) It will only take a minute for the wax to harden. Then, dip the exposed side in the wax, and repeat process (took us a few dips) until all the areas are encased in wax. Let dry on a baking rack lined with parchment. The parchment will prevent the wax from sticking to rack. Store in a dark, cool area of the house.
I will post an update in June on my first crack!
Part 2 – Time to test!!
I just sliced open the mild cheese I waxed three months ago. It was still delicious, and no signs of spoilage! When you wax your cheese, an aging process does happen. The cheese becomes sharper with age.
I stored the waxed cheese in cheesecloth in a cool, dry place.
I’m very pleased with the results, and will give another update in another three months. Let’s see how it does at SIX months!