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Just like it says in the title, how can I store blocks of cheese for max shelf life? I will be making a grilled cheese sandwich and shredding 3 varieties of cheese (cheddar, swiss, parm(?)) and I am afraid that I won't be able to use three whole blocks on one sandwich.

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Come on, go for it. 3 whole blocks in a single sandwich. Sounds good to me :) –  jeffwllms Sep 23 '11 at 19:01
    
@Taste Five, Absolutely not. There is a balance to be achieved. I am using a heavier Ciabatta so I can be a bit more generous but the balance must be maintained. –  Bob Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 19:27
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Ha, I know, just making a joke. –  jeffwllms Sep 23 '11 at 19:31
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Hard, aged cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan are fine to freeze, particularly if you're going to be melting them when you get around to using them anyway. Freezing causes ice particles to break up the molecules of the cheese, and when they thaw, they leave holes in what was (prior to freezing) a pretty smooth cheese. So you might notice if you freeze blocks of cheese, they are more crumbly when you unfreeze them than they were when you bought them. The cheeses you're working with should be fine if stored properly, but softer / creamier cheeses (brie, harvarti, etc.) might become somewhat unpleasant if you freeze them.

As far as storage is concerned, you can actually do one of two things:

  1. Grate the cheese before you freeze it. All you need to do for this method is grate your cheese and put it in a ziploc freezer bag (thicker than a regular zip-top bag). Just make sure to squeeze the air out before sealing, and seal it well.
  2. Freeze the cheese in blocks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then put then in a ziploc bag, and you should be all set; it'll keep for 4-6 months. (source)

No matter which method you use, you may notice a slight change in texture. Make sure you thaw the cheese before using it. (Though I've put frozen shredded mozzarella on pizza and frozen shredded Mexican cheese blend - a blend of cheddar, monterey jack, queso blanco and asadero - on tacos and not had any trouble.)

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I have been successful in freezing brie, but I wouldn't freeze Parmesan. Well I guess i can only speak for parmigiano, but freezing it leave it to crumbly to get what I am looking for grating it or trying to make sliver with a vegetable peeler. For the most part though, you can just keep it in the refrigerator. If it molds it is perfectly safe to just cut the mold off. And actually the added aging can benefit the cheese a little (I am saying a little not a ton, as you are only talking a few months here not years). –  jeffwllms Sep 23 '11 at 18:59
    
@Taste Five, I have always treated mold on anything as automatically up for tossing. Couldn't that make a person ill? –  Bob Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 19:22
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Sure mold can make a person ill, some mold is good for you. But I do not suggest eating the mold (unless you know what it is). But you can definitely remove the mold and be ok. I should note that if the cheese is something like cottage cheese or ricotta you'll need to toss that. mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01024 this site has a pretty decent chart to help. –  jeffwllms Sep 23 '11 at 19:36
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@Bobnix Mold on cheese is a little different than mold on other food, especially with hard cheeses. Cheese rarely spoils all the way through, so usually (unless, as tastefive pointed out, it's cottage or ricotta cheese), you should be fine just cutting off the moldy bits. :) –  Laura Sep 23 '11 at 19:48
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Regarding cheese and mold - theres a whole question! cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1230/… –  rfusca Sep 23 '11 at 20:16
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The best way to keep cheese in the fridge ... and the way I've made semisoft cheeses like cheddar last 6-10 weeks, sometimes more:

  1. Wrap the cheese in butcher paper, or baking parchment if you can't get butcher paper.
  2. Enclose the wrapped cheese in a plastic grocery bag or plastic wrap.
  3. Each time you slice off some of the cheese, change the paper.

The paper keeps the cheese dry, and the plastic keeps it moist. So the cheese doesn't dessicate, but doesn't get moldy either. Works a charm.

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I've had good luck simply storing the cheese tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. If you use a good quality wrap material and wrap it tightly, the cheese will stay dry and also not lose moisture.

In the past I tried using ziploc bags, evacuating air before sealing, but the simple plastic wrap approach works better. I can keep 6-7 types of cheese fresh during the time it takes my family of four to eat it... up to several months depending on cheese type.

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