Sunday, January 6, 2013

Waxing Store Bought Cheese

We have lots of information on our website and in other blog articles about waxing your own (homemade) cheese for aging, but many folks buy our wax to preserve their store bought cheese, as well.  This is the first article we've posted about this practice.

It should be noted that when waxing a cheese for aging, it's best to leave it whole rather than to cut it up and then wax it.  The ripening process works best for the whole cheese.  However, when waxing to preserve a fully ripened cheese, it's fine to cut it into pieces before waxing (as in the article below).

I found this article at The Sifford Sojournal, a blog created by David and Susan Sifford of Santa Anna, Texas.  They have a small herd of dairy goats and Susan told me she is busy milking 8 of them twice a day.

She is just beginning to make cheese and, so far, she has made farmer's cheese, goat's milk ice cream and yogurt.  Most of their milk goes to the pigs and the rest to David and Susan.

Susan and David Sifford
I asked her to tell us a bit about their lifestyle:

My husband and I left our corporate jobs in Silicon Valley in 2005 and moved to central Texas where we now have a small farm and are homesteading (next to other families doing the same thing) and trying to live a Christian, biblical (Bible-directed) agrarian lifestyle. We live off-grid and continue to develop our homestead to try to be sustainable (animal husbandry, food production and preservation being a large part of it).  I look forward to preserving much more of our goat milk through aged cheeses.

Their website is a virtual encyclopedia of useful back-to-basics information and they currently have 36 YouTube videos about different aspects of farm life.  In Susan's article below, she shows exactly how to wax a store bought cheese.

(One note about this- it's important that the cheese you are waxing be a hard, dry cheese because you will be storing it at room temperature.  If there is moisture inside the wax, it will encourage the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.  Parmesan is an excellent choice for waxing.)

Cheese Waxing
By Susan Sifford at The Sifford Sojournal

Our neighbor, Josie, mentioned one day that the local market was having a great sale on cheddar cheese. Dave suggested we buy several pounds to take advantage of the price. I include cheese in many of our meals but not enough to consume that much before it would start to go bad. Then during one of our community get-togethers, another neighbor, Danielle, mentioned that you can preserve cheese in wax. I had seen wax-covered cheese in the deli's and grocery stores all my life but had never thought much about it. I thought it was a marketing gimmick or something.

We decided to buy a five pound block of red cheese wax from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, and it arrived in just a few days:

The instructions called for a double-boiler in order to not burn the wax, so I dutifully went out and bought one. That was my first mistake. They said you should have dedicated utensils and containers because working with wax pretty much ruins them for other uses. I then asked myself, "What was I thinking. Why would I want to ruin a brand new double boiler for this use??!" I decided to keep the double boiler because I didn't have one and it is an integral component of good kitchen utensils. So I ended up putting water in the bottom of the double boiler and setting in it an old stainless steel bowl which ended up working just as well. I hope to find a used large saucepan at a thrift store in which to put the steel bowl for a makeshift double boiler in any future cheese waxing:

I cut a small block of wax off of the large block and placed it in the bowl to start melting:

It really didn't take long for the wax to melt at a low heat:

At first I tried using tongs to hold the cheese as I dipped it, but that seemed to be a bit slippery, and the cheese ended up being dropped. Also, we had purchased a cheese wax brush to dip and brush the wax onto the cheese. That was my second mistake. The brush proved to be pretty useless because it didn't provide for a thorough coating, and the process was very time consuming. Dave suggested perhaps cutting the cheese (alright, enough snickering) into smaller sizes and dipping them in half at a time with clean hands, letting that dry, and then dipping the remaining half. That seemed to work really well:

The instructions called for two to three coats of wax, but since this was my first time, I wanted to coat them really well; so I ended up dipping them about four times. It took only seconds between each dipping for the coating to dry:

Here is the final product ready to be stored for several months!

We figured in storing the cheese it would be best to keep it as far away as possible from any potential mice, so we purchased a few inexpensive hanging baskets and hung them containing the cheese in our root cellar:

I have used a few blocks of the cheese so far, and the wax has proven to work beautifully. It comes off very easily and can be washed, melted and re-used. I highly recommend this method of cheese preservation and thank God for His continued provisions.

One of many comments:

At April 28, 2009 8:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat! Though I know parafin can be used on top of homemade jams, etc. in canning jars, and have seen/bought waxed cheeses, I didn't fully know it would preserve cheese. Makes sense though. Good point that the wax can be washed and remelted. I've thought about that as I've taken wax off jam or off cheese, but haven't done it. Since we're still on grid (and even with a generator I'd use it yet), we have an old model Foodsaver that keeps cheese fresh at frig. temp for ages. The jar suction attachment for wide mouth canning jars, could be used with cheese blocks put in the jars for mouse protection too, I would think; and then put in my root cellar. I've recently invested in 2 cases of 2 quart jars at Woodmans for food storage/bug protection in my cupboards of such things as baking chips, coconut, walnuts, pecans etc. Have used qt. jars for ages for lentils, beans etc. With the air sucked out, things stay fresh indefinitely and bug free. Nice.


Galvanize said...

You guys are awesome!!! Please keep up the good work!

Jeri said...

Thank you!!!!

Kath Urbahn said...

Anonymous, no paraffin won't work. It's too brittle and will crack. You have to buy cheesemaking wax like she showed. :)