By Cat, June 26, 2017 (from a post by Cat on The Essentialist, July 21, 2012) (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
As we explore ways to reduce our energy consumption, we may wonder how to preserve fresh cheese for long-term storage without refrigeration? How was this done in earlier times?
A popular suggestion currently circulating on the internet is to wax cheddar (and certain other) cheese with paraffin or cheese wax to store them indefinitely without refrigeration.
But this is bad advice; there is a better way to preserve cheese; read on for more.
See also: 1. Miscellaneous Menu;
Tried and true long-term storage of cheese
The main reason for waxing cheese is to protect it from mold while it is developing its flavors. This is appropriate for hard cheeses but not soft ones.
Waxing is good for short-term storage, but not recommended for long-term storage because while it keeps molds off the surface of the cheese, it may actually encourage the growth of anaerobic bacteria (those that thrive without oxygen) that can be harmful to your health. See Preparedness Blog: The Hazards of Cheese Waxing for more on this.
Instead of using paraffin or cheese wax (made with paraffin), wax your cheese with beeswax. It makes a better barrier and is not toxic. Be sure to brush or drizzle melted wax over all cracks and holes in the wax coating.
Keep used beeswax because you can melt it down and strain it for reuse.
See my post on The EssentiaList: Cheese Making: Waxing the Round for more.
Why using paraffin is a bad idea
- Paraffin is made from petroleum, and as such, its use is not a sustainable practice, as we are past peak oil, and petroleum availability will not last forever. Cheese wax is made in part from paraffin, so is likewise problematic.
- Paraffin is toxic; you should never ingest it, as it is quickly absorbed into your blood stream.
- The oils in paraffin are easily taken up by the cheese.