I received a very kind note from a woman who was very excited about her progress since beginning her General Store. (You do remember our General store don’t you? If not check out my facebook page and catch up!) She was amazed how quickly her store shelves filled. She was, however, most amazed that waxing your own cheese really works. She waxed several blocks, waited two months and reported that it was perfect! She is a convert. I decided it would be a good idea to discuss this process again.
Cheese is one of those comfort foods you probably do not want to be without during a time of crisis. So take on the challenge and get waxing!
It is important to use cheese wax. Paraffin wax does not work; it is stiff and will crack when it cools which allows air in, causing mold. Cheese wax is formulated to be more pliable and will not crack as easily.
Cheese wax melts at lower temperatures and should be melted in a double boiler. Use an old pot since the wax is difficult to remove. Treat wax as you would chocolate, melt it slowly, on low heat just until it begins to melt. Remove from heat and stir. If you need to, add more heat but don’t get it any hotter than you absolutely have to. The hotter the wax the more likely it will pull oils from the cheese and you won’t achieve a good seal.
Do not handle the cheese with your bare hands. The oils from your hands can compromise the seal between the cheese and the wax. You hands may also introduce unwanted bacteria, spoiling the seal. Purchase some food grade disposable gloves before beginning.
Any cheese that is firm enough to form a block can be waxed. The cheese should be cool, clean, and dry. To soak up any excess moisture or oil dry blocks of cheese with a paper towel before dipping. Cut the cheese into smallish sizes that your family will use within a few days.
When you are not using your wax store it covered to keep it dust free. After you remove the wax from cheese save it in a clean reclosable plastic bag keeping it clean to re-melt and reuse later.
- When the wax has melted turn off the heat.
- Dry the block of cheese you will be waxing with a high quality paper towel or lint free cloth.
- Quickly dip the block of cheese half way into the wax. Allow the wax to dry slightly and dip the other half of the block slightly overlapping the wax.. You may also use a natural bristle brush to coat the cheese.
- Allow the wax to cool before you set it on any surface otherwise it will stick. I have found a silpat will work for placing a waxed cheese on to dry. Be careful as you remove the waxed cheese or it may pull away from the block just waxed. Try setting finished blocks on the paper side of freezer paper which has a paper side and a waxed side.
The wax should form a bond with the cheese, sealing the cheese including any holes. This process protects the cheese from mold spores and unwanted fungal invasions. It also locks the natural moisture of the cheese in, preventing it from drying out and hardening.
- Repeat the waxing process so that there is a minimum of three layers of wax, turing the block slightly before applying the second and thrid layers so you don’t create a seam which may easily crack. It is best to apply the second and third layers of wax while the previous layer is still slightly warm. You may choose to apply a fourth layer of wax for added strength.
- Label the cheese, type and date, before the last dipping so that the label is embedded within the wax and will not fall off. A piece of white paper and a pemanent marker work well when creating a label.
- After the cheese has completely hardened it should be stored in a cool dark, and dry room just like all your food storage. Place directly on a shelf and not in another container.
Waxed cheese will continue to age over time, especially cheddar, so start with more mild cheeses unless you like very sharp cheese.
Although you will find that cheese wax is expensive, as noted before, it can be reused. Simply peel the wax off the cheese being used and wash it in warm soapy water. Allow the wax to dry and store it to be used in your next cheese waxing session. You will need approximately three pounds of wax to cover ten pounds of cheese. A simple web search will reveal several sellers of cheese wax.
Now, go grab a friend, order some wax and add waxing cheese to your preparedness skill set.
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