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I recently lucked into about 4 lbs of a delicious Parmesan. Sadly it's already in 4 pieces, and so I'm pretty sure its going to be more prone to spoilage than a single large chunk. How does one go about setting up a block of dry, hard cheese for long term storage?

Also how long can I expect my cheese to retain its flavor?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If it's high quality, store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and try to use it as quickly as possible so you can enjoy it while it's fresh. There are always excuses to use loads of parmesan: cheese plates, pasta dinners, fondue, scones, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. It should last for 3-4 months in a sealed container in the fridge. As time goes on it will get drier, but that's to be expected.

If you can't eat it in time, consider giving some away to a friend. If you wanted, you could freeze it as well, but I would only use it for baking or melting once thawed as some flavor and a lot of texture will be lost.

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I already gave away a big chunk of this cheese windfall. This parmesan is what I've got left. –  Doomy Aug 7 '12 at 19:10

Fresh parmesan....hmm : ) Parmesan is typically aged 6 months to 2 years...it is aged with no special covering or container, it forms what is called a natural rind. To store it, once it has been cut is very simple: place it in as airtight a container as possible and refrigerate. DO NOT wet it, this may lead to spoilage...do not leave it exposed to the elements.

Pretty simple...

I make artisan cheeses.

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Fresh to me, at least. –  Doomy Oct 15 '12 at 3:17

You could wrap it into cheese paper (like http://www.amazon.com/Formaticum-Cheese-Paper-Adhesive-Package/dp/B002I47P40) and store it in the fridge.

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I'm not familiar with cheese paper -- how does this compare to using butcher paper, or freezer paper (paper coated w/ a layer of plastic)? –  Joe Aug 10 '12 at 3:25
    
I guess its similar to butcher paper or even the same. Its just paper coated with a thin layer of plastic. –  Andre Aug 11 '12 at 12:15

What we would always do at home would be to wrap it in paper towel and then put it in a plastic bag in the fridge.

This will prevent it to dry too much, and the paper will absorbe any moisture forming on the surface. The paper should be changed every now and then to avoid mold growing on the cheese.

If mold grows on the cheese just remove the "moldy spot" and you'll be fine.

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1  
I find if I put the paper towel-wrapped cheese in an unsealed bag (I use a zip-top freezer bag, but not zipped up), the moisture won't collect and I've never had mold issues. (if you leave it for 6 months, yes, it'll have dried out and be harder to grate, but it's not inedible). –  Joe Aug 10 '12 at 3:25

Per Marcella Hazan, author of the wonderful "Essentials of Italian Cooking" - Wrap it tightly in wax paper, then in heavy-duty aluminum foil, being careful not to poke the foil. Store on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Works perfectly.

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I strongly disagree with the idea of storing it in an airtight container and using it quickly. I assume people suggest using it quickly because in an air-tight container you'll have condensed water in the box which will make your cheese go bad.

I recommend to put it in a box and put the top on, but leave the top open a little bit (or use a box that lets air through; that would be even better). With that, most excessive humidity will leave the box, without creating too much condensed water inside and without drying the cheese too fast. With this method I can keep my Parmesan for at least 3 weeks. Cheese paper might be a good idea also. But not in airtight containers - since you'll definitely have humidity leaving your cheese.

(This applies to a piece of Parmesan, not pre-grated Parmesan.)

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Smear butter to prevent drying. I have also experimented freezing parmesan. It does dry out a bit but still could be used in hot dishes like pasta.

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Wrap it in a clean, damp kitchen towel, then in foil. It will store well for a long time, without losing any of its texture or nutty flavor. This will allow the cheese to breathe. Change the towel every time you use the cheese to prevent any possible cross-contamination.

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way too much work. Parmesan is happy enough in a resealable plastic bag and even after months like that, shows no ill effects from not "breathing" –  Kate Gregory Jan 22 '13 at 23:44

Put it in a jar with a piece of bread...works every time and its lasts a long time.

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Put it in a cooler or running water (cold) bur not more than 5days

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Provide supporting evidence to the claims and one liner's are generally not very helpful. Please consider revising with why you think this answers the question posed. In fact, I find that this will probably speed up the spoilage (both bacterially and quality wise). –  Brendan Jan 23 '13 at 19:01

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