No cryovac?

We were asked about this recently, is it really okay to cryovac cheese? We have stated that it should be avoided at all costs, however it does not necessarily spell the kiss of death. Ideally cheeses will be wrapped in the kind of cheese-friendly paper in which we wrap our cheeses – a two-ply semi-permeable paper that allows the cheese to breathe.

One reason we would avoid the plastic wrap is because cheese is a “living” food that requires a little air exchange. However it is not as though the cheeses are huffing and puffing, especially the harder aged cheeses. They will do better with a little ventilation (usually) but the aged cheeses are “set” and already formed, the flavor and texture will have developed to whatever levels they will reach.

We occasionally have cheeses shipped to us in cryovac and the first response might be that the cheese is suffocating, to immediately take it out of the wrap. To resuscitate the cheese we will remove the plastic and allow it to catch its breath. If the cheese has not been wrapped this way for too long it will usually come out of the wrap in fine form. Some of the softer cheeses have surprised us with how well the tolerate the cryovac, some seem to have actually improved without the aeration. One firm goat cheese that had been in cryovac for a little time was so delectable that we did a double-take; it was marvelous.

Another concern with the cryovac (or any plastic wrap) is that it will leave a little residue on the surface of the cheese. If this has occurred then a little scrapping or facing of the surface can probably eliminate any off-flavor left behind by the wrapping.

Again, ideally a cheese should not have to be in cryovac. It can however assure that a cheese will arrive at the table in better form than if it had had extra exposure to the elements. Once a cheese has come out of cryovac it will much prefer that it not go back into it.

Spread the curd!
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