I usually recommend that you buy less cheese but that you make sure to buy it often. The ideal is to have cheese on hand for today or possibly a few days’ consumption. This is certainly true for the softer, wetter cheeses. Those types reach their peaks and then fade quickly. Hurricane Sandy reminds me that it is better to be prepared for emergencies, so that you have a good amount to sustain you, should you not be able to count on your regular cheese procurement channels.

We were fortunate here at the Artisanal Cheese Center. We did not lose power on our block so our cheese caves kept working just fine. Our cheeses came through the brunt of Sandy in fine form, though we were unable to ship them out for a couple of days.

Hopefully you were well stocked with cheese over the past several days. If you did happen to lose power in your neighborhood, or worse, if you are still without power, the firm cheeses can survive without refrigeration, almost indefinitely. Likely you have a cooler area in your residence where your cheeses can be kept until the power comes back on. Even the softer cheeses can hold up above 38° F for a few days. For centuries many Old World styles of cheeses never saw temperatures that low anyway. Refrigeration simply slows down ripening to extend the life of the cheese.

The advantages to stocking up on cheese are numerous. It does not have to be cooked. Cheese has an excellent track record for food safety and it supplies near-complete nutrition. It does not require refrigeration so long as it is protected from pests, drafts, too much sunlight and excessively dry environments.

So I suppose I have to take my words back and advise you to stock up on the harder cheeses to be better prepared for life’s unwanted surprises.

- Max McCalman

Spread the curd!
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