1) A Balance of Humidity, Airflow, And Breathability
Washed 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 washed cheese rind can soften considerably, making the exterior soggy and overly bitter. 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) If You're Worried About the Aroma of the Washed Rind Permeating Other Cheeses, Don't Be
For very longterm storage, our recommendation with very stinky styles is to place them on the bottom shelf with one of our two-shelf models, the Grotto Fresco or Grotto Classico. This is for those aggressively strong styles like Morbier that you'd like to hold onto for more than a week.
If you're enjoying your washed rind cheese within the week or two, it's quite fine to simply leave an inch of space between different styles on the shelves. Just be sure to wash the shelf with hot water and distilled white vinegar (3:1) and allow to air dry after use.
3) Washed 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 washed rind cheese out at room temperature in the Grotto is that the flavor and texture of the washed 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 washed rind cheese into something softer and spreadable over a few days.
If you're ultimate goal is to keep your washed 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.