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Traditional blue recipe

Ask the Experts

Naomi Crisante is a food educator, television presenter and food writer with over 15 years experience in Australia’s cheese industry. She is an accredited cheese judge, judges at various specialist cheese shows and represented Australia as a judge at the 2006 World Cheese Championship Contest in Wisconsin, USA. Naomi also managed the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for nine years, since their inception in 1999.

Naomi Crisante Food Communications

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How do I store the fresh fetta cheese from the deli counter to put it in the fridge?

If you plan on keeping fetta more than a day or so make a weak brine by dissolving a tablespoon of salt in a cup of boiling water, let it cool, and then immerse your feta in it. Keep it refrigerated and use the fetta within a week or so.

Will freezing cheese effect it's flavour?

It depends on the cheese you are freezing. I generally recommend that you only freeze firm cheeses, like cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan – preferably grated as they lose too much moisture when thawed if frozen in a block – and usually use those cheeses for cooking with.  The flavour profile wil not change significantly if care is taken to freeze in freezer bags (removing as much air as possible) and use within 3 months.

I do not recommend freezing fresh, blue or brie-style cheeses at all, unless they are used in a baked dish (such as ricotta cannelloni or lasagne).

What is the best way to store a 1kg. block of cheddar cheese in the fridge once the pack has been opened, without it drying out or getting white mould on it.

Cheddar keeps very well in the fridge covered in plastic wrap but you must be careful not to contaminate the cheese as you are using it. This means taking care not to touch it with your hands, use an unclean knife or place it on a board/bench that has had other foodstuffs on it. You must also rewrap it in clean plastic wrap each time.

If you are not planning to use the full block, you may find it easier to cut it into 2 or 3 pieces, wrap each of them well and refrigerate until required. Otherwise, grate a portion of it and freeze it.

What is the best way to store cheese?

Ideally, keep cheese refrigerated between 3 to 5°C in its original packaging in a separate compartment or a large, sealed plastic container in the fridge.

Otherwise, follow these tips:

Fresh Cheeses, Fetta, Bocconcini, Haloumi, and Goat's Cheese - Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a plastic wrap covered bowl.  Store Fetta and Haloumi in brine if possible.

Soft White, Blue, Washed Rind, Cheddar, Hard Italian Styles, Mozzarella, and Eye Cheeses - Although you can keep these cheeses in plastic wrap for short periods for home use, they are best wrapped in greaseproof or baking paper and stored in a separate sealed container in the fridge (3-5°C).  Make sure to replace the wrapping regularly.

What does Best Before and Use By mean? Should I discard cheese past its Best Before?

The Best Before date means the date which signifies the end of the period during which the intact package of food, if stored in accordance with the stated storage conditions , will remain fully marketable and will retain its specific qualities.

Most cheeses are coded with a Best Before date – and hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Parmesan can have a Best Before date for up to and including 12 months. Soft Ripened Cheeses have shorter Best Before dates – and as they mature throughout their life-span, they become softer and creamier with a more developed flavour as they age. For this reason, they are best consumed close to their Best Before date. When buying soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, or Blue, try to select cheese with a Best Before that is close to its date when you will be serving. It is not recommended to store or consume cheese past its Best Before date.

The Use By date means the date which signifies the end of the estimated period if stored in accordance with any stated storage conditions, after which the intact package of food should not be consumed because of health and safety reasons. Some fresh cheeses such as Ricotta and Bocconcinni are usually coded with a Use By date – and therefore must not be consumed past this date.

I never seem to use all the feta I buy at the deli. How can I store it to make it last longer?

Ideally, fetta is best stored in the brine solution it is purchased in, but failing that, you can store it immersed in a weak brine solution or cover it in oil for a week or two.

To make a brine solution, use a ratio of 1 tablespoon cooking salt dissolved in 2 cups water . Immerse the cheese and store covered in the refrigerator.  

To cover with oil, use a blend of olive oil and canola or vegetable oil. The oil may solidify in the refrigerator but will return to liquid at room temperature and will be perfectly.

In both cases, try to use the cheese as soon as possible.

I’ve also attached my recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Fetta that is a great way to use up the cheese at brekkie time!

How should I store a soft white cheese like Brie and Camembert once I've opened it?

The best solution is to rewrap the cheese in its own wrapper and store in the fridge . Most Brie and Camembert wrappers are made from perforated paper and the tiny holes let in the air and allow the cheese to breathe. If this is not an option, wrapping the cheese in greaseproof or baking paper and loosely over-wrapping in plastic wrap is the next best option. Store in a separate compartment in the refrigerator to prevent them from drying out and absorbing the aromas of stronger foods. This method of storage is also applicable for Blue cheeses.

How long will cheese keep once it has been opened?

Cheeses are living things, and should be treated in the same way as fruit and vegetables . Different types of cheese will keep for different amounts of time. The more moisture in a cheese, the more perishable it is – so fresh cheeses should be consumed within a few days; soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert or Blue cheeses within a week once opened. Hard cheeses will last for weeks, if not months, in your refrigerator.

Some cheeses may grow moulds that are not meant to be there - such as blue mould on Cheddar, or orange or black mould on fresh cheeses. This may happen due to poor storage, cross-contamination or the cheese has simply aged past its best. In these instances, it is best to discard the cheese.

What is parmesan oil?

Parmesan oil is olive oil that has been infused ( i.e. warmed gently and allowed to stand ) with a piece of parmesan cheese (with rind) and often garlic and rosemary.

Sounds delicious doesn’t it?!

Why can't I buy Wensleydale with cranberries in Australia? After living in the UK for 11 years, I'm missing it terribly!

It is frustrating when a product you have grown accustomed to in another country is not available in Australia. I have not seen Wensleydale with cranberries here either, so I assume it is not imported.

You might like to experiment with mixing your own flavoured cheese – I suggest that crumbly Mersey Valley Vintage blended with a few chopped cranberries that have been plumped in a little hot water might be worth a go! Or even blend cranberries with a little cream cheese or yummy South Cape mascarpone. Not exactly the same, I know, but it might satisfy the craving!