Waxing cheese

by Farmer Liz
Up until recently we vacuumed sealed all our cheeses.  This seemed like a terrible waste of the plastic bags, as you can't really use them again, and as our vacuum sealer lives at the back of a kitchen cupboard, it was also a real pain.  I had a chunk of cheese wax, but I was too scared to use it.  Then when Molly had her first calf, I was making so much cheese, I decided to just give waxing a go.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is very quick and easy to do.

eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses

eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses

This site has some good step by step instructions.  The method I use is to pain the wax on the cheese with a cheap paintbrush.  I would like to dip the cheese, but I didn't want to dedicate one of our big pots to wax, so its just in a little pot.  The part that I always found confusing was the step between taking the cheese out of the cheese mold and waxing and storing the cheese, so, after a lot of trial and error, here's what I do:
  • Press the cheese overnight, in the morning take the cheese out of the mould, rub both sides with sea salt and leave the cheese on top of the upturned cheese mould, covered by the cheese cloth I used to press it in, to allow it to dry out.  You need to form a rind before waxing, so the cheese needs to dry.  
  • Depending on the temperature in the kitchen, I might turn it and leave it another day, otherwise I put it in the fridge in a tupperware container that has a raised rack so that the cheese can continue to dry.  I have to check this daily, drain the container and add more salt.  It doesn't work as well as air drying, but if its really hot and humid the cheese goes mouldy out in the kitchen!
eight acres: some thoughts on waxing homemade cheeses
messy wax pot
  • As soon as the cheese has dried out and formed a rind, I wax it and put it away, otherwise I tend to forget about it and the cheese gets moist again.  If this happens, rather than waste the cheese, I often just cut off the mouldy bits and wax it anyway (probably not recommended, but hate to waste anything).
  • To wax the cheese, I put the wax pot on the stove on a low heat until melted and spread out newspaper on the benchtop (this gets messy!), then I take the cheese from the fridge and hold it in one hand while painting every part of it that I can with wax.  It doesn't take long for the wax to set, literally seconds, then I can flip it over and pain the rest.  Then I check for any bits that I missed.  
  • I write a quick label with the date and type of cheese (most of them are Romano though) and stick that to the cheese with wax.  Then I put it in the cheese fridge.  The hardest part after that is remembering to turn the cheeses in the fridge every few weeks.
We usually take a cheese out of the fridge and grate the entire block, and then store that in bags in the freezer.  Its then very easy to grab some cheese to use in cooking.

Have you tried waxing cheese?  Or storing it another way?  Any tips?

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