The best way to keep cheese fresh is to purchase it cut to order rather than pre-cut, wrapped, and ready to go. Freshly sliced cheese tastes better and lasts longer, and you can rewrap it in the paper it’s sold in. But if you’re buying cheese for future rather than immediate use or if you have leftovers, you need to know how to store it in a way that preserves its freshness and flavor.

The main thing to remember is that cheeses need to be appropriately wrapped for storage. You can buy the special cheese paper cheesemongers use (Formaticum is the most popular brand), which has two layers: One is a permeable cellophane that allows the cheese to breathe, and the other is similar to butcher paper and retains moisture.

You can purchase cheese paper at many cheese shops or specialty food stores or online. Or you can create your own version of this handy wrap: First wrap the cheese in wax or parchment paper and then cover it in a layer of plastic wrap.

Here are some tips on how to preserve different styles of cheese:

  • Fresh cheeses: Keep them sealed in their original container (which may or may not contain brine) or tightly encased in plastic wrap.

  • Semi-soft, surface-ripened, semi-hard, and washed-rind cheeses: Wrap these cheeses loosely in parchment paper, place in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and store them in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Because cheese continues to ripen as it ages, air out the cheese every day or so by unwrapping it and letting it sit at room temperature for approximately half an hour.

  • Blue cheeses: Wrap blue cheese in waxed or butcher paper and store it in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Place it in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator and allow it to air out every other day or so, as described above.

Letting any cheese come up to room temperature and then re-refrigerating what you don’t eat increases the aging process, expediting its demise. The best way to keep cheese fresh is to cut off a hunk (or three) and enjoy some every day!

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