In grocery stores, they seem to have some trick for wrapping produce and other items tightly in what appears to be standard household plastic wrap. At home, I always struggle to get a nice airtight seal, typically with cheeses. I can usually get the "main" four surfaces nice and tight, but I can't figure out how to get the remaining two sides of the block very well sealed.

Is there some magic wrapping technique, say for a block of cheese, that will ensure a nice airtight seal against each side of the block?

  • Use zipper style plastic bags – TFD May 8 '13 at 21:18

The wrap used in most grocery stores isn't the same as your household wrap.

Most of the consumer brands of plastic "cling" wrap are now formulated from low-density polyethylene. It's rolled very thin to give you the best price per unit of length, and has reasonable stickyness.

Most stores use a product called "meat film" which is most commonly made from PVC. It's a little thicker, more wrinkle-resistant to give the product contained inside a better appearance, and it's stickier.

The other thing that grocery stores do to make the seal better is they use a heat sealer on the plastic. These are heated pads where they'll place a wrapped piece of plastic for a few seconds. It's not enough heat to melt the plastic, so in most cases you can still pull it apart, but it is just enough to shrink the joint together, and pull it taut across the front of the packaging.

  • Ah, that explains it. If I recall correctly, there still is one brand of plastic wrap you can buy at Costco that uses PVC, Stretch-Tite. I suppose my worries about PVC in plastic wrap are somewhat moot if the grocery stores already use it before I get home! – Jeff Axelrod May 8 '13 at 11:24

Adding to cpilko's good answer, when storing cheese I generally use plastic bags because they are thicker. In fact, for some of the more stinky types (or delicate ones as it's as much about the cheese absorbing flavors as emitting them) I'll double bag or put the bag into a plastic container.

Even doing that isn't perfect. A few years ago I flew a whole bunch of cheese I bought in Le Touquet, France back to SE England in a Cessna 172. I only cruised at 3000 ft which isn't very high and isn't that much of a pressure drop. I had double bagged the cheeses in ziplock freezer bags, the heavy duty ones, and pushed as much air out as I could, yet the pressure change still pulled out any remaining air from the bags and stank the airplane up something terrible. I week later and I could swear I still smelled cheese.

  • Wrapping in plastic to keep air out and the cheese fresh, then placing the wrapped cheese into a Ziploc freezer bag would probably help with odors and might even extend the shelf life. Not a bad idea. – Jeff Axelrod May 8 '13 at 11:49

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