Let's talk about water content in cheese, shall we? The water content of a cheese directly impacts the preservation method, and the duration of a cheese's life. I have separated cheeses into two categories below, as a simple guide: Higher Moisture and Lower Moisture. Next week, we'll discuss an ambient (room temperature) climate's impact on cheese, and how this mode of storage is recommended when consuming the cheese within a week to two weeks.
Higher Moisture Cheeses
Featured above: Brillat Savarin, a triple cream bloomy rind
Higher moisture styles of cheese have a higher water content. In turn, they require higher humidity levels so that they do not dry out. This is in the range of 80% or above. These styles include bloomy rinds such as Camembert, washed rinds such as Vacherin Mont D'or, and creamy blues such as Roquefort. My recommendation is to store those on the bottom shelf of the Grotto, where the humidity is slightly higher than the top shelf.
Bloomy rinds have a stronger tendency to bloom even more in the Grotto: that is because the conditions in the climate are met that promote the ripening of the rind. In the case you notice white bloomy spores jumping onto your shelf, never fear. Simply wipe them off with a hot water/distilled vinegar solution, and you have yourself a controlled rind situation.
Higher moisture styles of cheese also ripen more quickly than lower moisture styles. Because of this, it is recommended to enjoy them within two weeks to one month of purchase. The rate of fermentation is determined by the temperature: the warmer the climate, the quicker it happens. If you leave your Grotto out on the kitchen counter, you may want to consider enjoying them within a few days, dependent upon how quickly they ripen.
Lower Moisture Cheeses
Featured above: Queso Invierno, a dense cheese from Vermont Shepherd
Lower moisture cheeses are firmer in texture: from semi-firm to extra-firm. They do not require as much humidity as softer styles, and can be stored comfortably between 70 to 80% humidity.
These styles are best stored together on one shelf, separate from the higher moisture styles.
Lower moisture styles are resilient at room temperature and in refrigeration temperature. In the fridge, dense cheeses can last up to 6 months. Outside of the fridge, the rate of fermentation is faster, but dense cheese can still last up to one month on the countertop, in a climate under 70 degrees F.