After a whirlwind holiday season, our Cheese Grottos are finally back in stock! If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a Classico, Fresco, Mezzo, or Piatto of your very own, now’s a great time to do it.
Maybe you’re a longtime fan whose Grotto might be due for some regular maintenance, or maybe you got one as a gift but haven’t set it up yet because you don’t know where to start. Here’s everything you need to know about setting up and caring for your Cheese Grotto so that you can share a lifetime of delicious wedges together.
How to Set Up Your Cheese Grotto
You’ve unboxed this exciting piece of cheese gear—now what? There’s just a little prep needed before you stash your cheeses in their luxurious new home.
Because our goods are made to order by Donovan, our woodworker, your Grotto might smell slightly of wood laminate when you first open the package. That’s normal! If you like, you can give the whole thing a quick wash inside and out with hot water mixed with a splash of vinegar, then allow it to air dry. While you’re at it, wash the shelves and allow them to air dry, too.
Once everything is completely dry, we recommend using a soft cloth or paper towel to rub the interior surface of the Grotto and your shelves with a little mineral oil. This conditions and protects the material.
Finally, you’ll submerge the clay brick in clean, warm water for just two minutes. This is what makes the Cheese Grotto work so well: the clay absorbs water, then slowly releases moisture into the interior, creating the perfect level of humidity to keep your cheeses fresh and delicious, unwrapped.
When the two minutes are up, remove the brick from the water, wipe any excess moisture from the underside with a clean towel, and place it on the bottom floor of the Grotto.
Ta-da! You’re ready to stock your Grotto full of delicious cheese, whether you plan to keep it in your fridge or on your countertop.
How to Stock Your Cheese Grotto
Okay, this bit is pretty straightforward—but there are a few tips and tricks that will help you get the best results with your new cheese storage solution.
Once you’ve followed the instructions above, your Grotto is ready to hold its very first cheeses. Here are our pro tips that will set you up for successful cheese storage.
Keep an inch or so between cheeses on the same shelf.
Avoid allowing different cheeses to touch in the Grotto; if they do, they might exchange microflora, which can affect cheese quality. Keeping an inch of distance between them allows for good air circulation and helps to keep different cheeses from picking up each other’s aromas.
Store particularly pungent cheeses on different shelves.
Got a piquant hunk of blue cheese or a soft, whiffy washed rind? Separate these powerful cheeses from the rest on a shelf of their own—or, if you have a single-shelf Mezzo or Piatto, loosely wrap pungent styles in a piece of waxed paper as an additional barrier.
Know which cheeses not to store in the Grotto.
That’s it! Once your Grotto is full of cheesy goodness, you can store it on the counter at ambient temperature—as long as your space is under 70oF—for a shelf life of around 7 days. This method is great for spontaneous snacking at the perfect serving temperature!
To extend the shelf life of your cheeses for two to three weeks (or even longer for some hard, aged styles), store the Grotto in your refrigerator. Simply remove the cheeses you’d like to snack on (or the whole Grotto if you’re eating them all!) about an hour before you plan to enjoy them for optimal serving temperature.
How to Care for Your Cheese Grotto
Going forward, you’ll want to give your Grotto a little love every so often to keep it a clean, beautiful place for your favorite cheeses to hang out.
You’ll want to wash the shelves every time you switch out new cheeses. This keeps them from harboring microflora and ensures that you won’t spread one cheese’s molds to the next batch.
Make a mental note—or, even better, set a reminder on your phone—to give those shelves a monthly clean with very hot water and distilled white vinegar (3:1 ratio), then rinse. Let them fully air dry, then rub the shelves with just a bit of food-grade mineral oil or board balm. This will keep them looking beautiful and stain-free for years to come.
A note on shelf material: Die-hard cheese aficionados love our bamboo shelving, as they mimic what many traditional cheesemakers use in their caves. Make sure you hand-wash these only—no dishwasher.
The eco-friendly black resin shelves, on the other hand, have natural antimicrobial qualities, which helps mitigate mold growth on cheese if you’re keeping your Grotto on the countertop. Plus, they’re made of recycled paper and resin, meaning they virtually cannot chip or break and are dishwasher safe. You can also write the name of each cheese on the shelf surface, slate-style, with the included soapstone chalk.
The same goes for the clay brick. To maintain the ideal humidity inside the Grotto, it’ll need to be re-soaked occasionally. We’ve found that submerging it in warm water for 2 minutes every 7 to 10 days works best for the Classico, our largest model, while the smaller Fresco, Mezzo, and Piatto only need a re-soak every 3 weeks.
And that’s it! Just a few simple guidelines and light maintenance will let you enjoy this work of beautiful, functional art—and keep all your favorite cheeses tasting their very best—for years to come! And if you have more questions, be sure to check out our Frequently Asked Questions page, complete with a comprehensive guide on the Cheese Grotto.
How are you using your brand new Cheese Grotto? Tag us @cheesegrotto on social media and let us know!