1) A Balance of Humidity, Airflow, And Breathability
Hard, dense cheese has time on its side due to its lack of water content. The softer the cheese, the faster it will ripen and breakdown, making it important to enjoy softer styles within a month or two. Hard cheese originally was made to extend the shelf-life of fluid milk as long as humanly possible using natural methods (when refrigeration was not an option).
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Even though a hard cheese is the most shelf-stable of cheese categories, it can still have a tendency to dry out or grow mold if not stored in the right conditions.
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 molds. These molds of brown, white, and blue can be scraped away leaving the cheese beneath fine to eat. But it's never ideal to have to throw away any amount of cheese. 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.
2) Hard Cheese Can Dry Out If Humidity Conditions Aren't Met
Have you ever noticed the surface of a hard cheese becoming too firm and cracking? This is due to the fact that the faces of the cheese are not receiving enough humidity.
When you give hard cheese a nice humid, breathable climate it will retain its freshness for much longer and will slow down the rate of oxidization of the cheese surface.
3) Hard Cheese Will Last Longer When Stored in the Fridge, But It's Best Eaten at Room Temperature
We've said it before and we'll say it again - cheese is best served at room temperature. With hard cheese, the texture is often too tight and the flavors are extremely subdued when initially taken out of the refrigerator. The one caveat here is it takes longer for a hard cheese to come to room temperature - an hour or more.
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 hard cheese out at room temperature in the Grotto is that the flavor and texture of the hard cheese 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.
If your ultimate goal is to keep your hard cheese wedge 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.