1) A Balance of Humidity, Airflow, And Breathability
Bloomy rind cheese likes to be stored in a climate that has a high-humidity. We recommend at least 80% to keep that cheese rind fresh. The tricky task is guaranteeing that the cheese stays in a humid climate without trapping moisture. This is where the design and materials used in the Cheese Grotto come in handy.
Since the Cheese Grotto self-regulates high-humidity with the included clay brick humidifier, and since it has a breathable back panel, fresh air supply circulates around the cheese in a gentle way. And because you're not storing your cheese on plastic tupperware or in plastic/paper that can stick to the cheese paste or rind, there's no risk of moisture being trapped on the surface of the cheese. When moisture is trapped on the surface of the cheese, this usually results in the rapid degradation of the cheese, and the emergence of unwanted, pinkish bacteria that is inedible. The bloomy cheese rind becomes damp, the cute fluffy mold begins to die for lack of oxygen, and an unbearable ammonia aroma emerges. The Cheese Grotto does not require you to wrap your cheese, so it can live in a gently aerated, humid climate that preserves its freshness.
It's important to note that some aroma of ammonia in a brie or camembert is not problematic, and if an orange hue emerges from beneath the fluffy rind, it is also very acceptable. As a wheel of camembert continues to age, it will get softer and will have a stronger aroma. In France, when brie or camembert is on the verge turning to the inedible it is often seen as à point (also known as "at its peak"). The flavor bursts forth with a runny texture into an incredible experience that is completely consuming to all the senses. So we always recommend trying a camembert wheel that on its last leg. To read more and see what this stage of camembert looks like, we encourage you to read our post titled, How to Store and Ripen Camembert Cheese. This post highlights the various ages of a Camembert-style through its life cycle and the flavor and texture that awaits you.
2) Bloomy Cheese Mold Can Have a Tendency to Bloom
In rare cases when enjoying bloomy rind cheese consistently and at very high volumes, the bloomy mold can have a tendency to situate itself on the bamboo Grotto shelf and bloom. Our key recommendation here is to simply clean the Grotto shelves with hot water and distilled white vinegar (3:1) between uses, and allow to air dry. And just make sure to allot one-inch of space between cheese types in order to give each one room to create its own micro-climate.
When you give a bloomy rind cheese a humid climate it enjoys, you'll also see that the bloomy white mold may continue to grow on the rind. This is an enjoyable sight for the cheese nerds among us, but if it frightens you in the least and you'd like to control it, simply pat the rind down with a freshly washed hand, and flip the cheese in the Grotto to preserve even ripening as it is being stored.
Another solution is to opt for our Black Resin shelving, which is non-porous and dishwasher safe. This material significantly minimizes the chance of white mold blooming.
In any case, there are straightforward options to keep your cheese fresh while also storing other cheese types in the Grotto!
3) Bloomy Rind Cheese Will Last Longer When Stored in the Fridge, But It's Best Eaten at Room Temperature
As you may have noticed, the Cheese Grotto is designed to be stored in the fridge or on the counter. Many die-hard cheese enthusiasts store their cheese on the counter during the week they'll be enjoying it. The Grotto is a pure joy for those cheese-loving folks. The benefit of keeping bloomy rind cheese out at room temperature in the Grotto is that the flavor and texture of the bloomy rind cheese is ready to eat at any moment, eliminating the need to take the cheese out one hour prior to eating for the best experience. It can also be an excellent way to ripen a young, firm wheel of brie or camembert into something soft and spreadable over a few days.
If you're ultimate goal is to keep your bloomy rind cheese for as long as humanly possible, please store the Grotto in the fridge. It will slow down the rate of fermentation and it will extend the shelf-life, according to dairy lab scientists and cheese experts.
4) If You're Not Quite Ready for a Cheese Grotto, Here's Some Other Suggestions
- Wrap cheese in cheese paper or bee's wrap, the two next best options.
- Place the wrapped cheese in a more humid section of your fridge, like the vegetable drawer, so it doesn't dry out.
- If storing cheese on the counter in a traditional cheese dome, be sure to lift the dome for fresh air supply to get to the cheese so it doesn't suffocate.