I’m a cheesehead. For those of you unfamiliar with this strange term, it means I’m from the Dairy State, Wisconsin. I used to have an actual cheesehead, a spongy wedge of cheddar that you wear on your head to Green Bay Packer games…but I digress. What I really want to talk about today is just plain cheese. My family eats a lot of it. In fact we pretty much eat it everyday. When I met my husband, I noticed he had a creative way of solving a common problem with cheese: mold. We’ve all seen it, that ugly otherworldly green fuzzy stuff growing on our old food in the fridge. Cheese always seems to attract mold, mainly because it is sold in large bricks that take a while for the average person or family to consume. So anyways, back to my husband. I saw his idea for combating mold on cheese and I liked it. When we got married, I tweaked it a little to suit our needs and now I have a solid system in place to grapple with the green. So what in the world am I talking about? Read on.
You buy a brick of cheddar. After opening it, you slowly begin slicing pieces here and there for sandwiches and crackers. A few weeks later, you notice mold growing on the remainder of your brick, and unless you’re my dad (he’ll eat anything), you decide to toss it. Food has been wasted, and worse, you’ve actually tossed away one of your most precious resources, money.
The secret my husband discovered as a bachelor was that he could freeze cheese. Let me explain, because if you’ve ever tried to freeze entire bricks of cheese, you’re probably about to complain how crumbly and annoying it was after you thawed it. This is why you need to slice it first. Here’s what I do:
- Buy cheese, lots of cheese. We like all kinds of cheese at our house (who doesn’t enjoy a little variety), so every few months when our cheese supply is getting low, I splurge. I may buy 6 different kinds, all bricks. I prefer 8 oz bricks because they make better slices, but we’ll get to that later.
- Slice Slice Slice. This step is tedious and I admit that it is my least favorite part. But trust me, it pays off in the end and you only have to do once and a while. After I’ve arrived home with my cheese loot (lets say 6 bricks), I promptly open each package and line them up on my counter (or if you don’t have time right away, feel free to do this later as unopened cheese in the fridge lasts for months). For 6 eight-ounce bricks of cheese I need 12 little sandwich baggies plus a sharpie marker, a cheese slicer, and a cutting board. Each brick will slice easily into approximately 16 slices (cutting the short way) if I cut each slice the thickness of about 2-3mm (about the thickness of my standard cheese slicer tool).
- Bag & Freeze. After my cheese cutting frenzy, I stack the slices 4 high and then place 4 piles side by side into each baggie, labeled of course with the date and type of cheese (we keep our cheese types together in the same bag, but feel free to mix it up for even more variety!). In the end you have 12 bags, each containing 4 oz of cheese. After I get all the baggies full, I stack them and place them in my freezer for later.
The Definition of Convenience
So what good does all this work do you? Simply keep one bag in the fridge at a time, pulling out the next frozen bag when the current bag gets empty. The slices thaw nicely and are right there ready for you to use. The mold problem is solved because it doesn’t take very long to eat 16 slices of cheese. Finally, never waste time slicing cheese when you are busy with other meal preparations, because the cheese is already sliced!
Wait a Minute, I Don’t Eat That Much Cheese!
Not a cheesehead like me, you say? That’s fine. It’s really easy to make the necessary modifications to this system to suit your family’s needs. If you don’t eat that much cheese, or if you eat more, then simply change the amount of slices per bag. I found that 16 slices works for us, but a different number might be better for you.
One Last Money-Saving Tip
Cheese isn’t cheap. If you can time it right, try to buy your load of cheese when it goes on sale at your grocery store. Also consider buying whichever brand is currently the least expensive, generic or not. We’re not too picky about cheese brands at our house, so I buy whichever brand has the least strain on my wallet.
This idea is just one way of tackling moldy cheese. Anyone else ever think of a creative solution to this problem? Please share!