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Cheese Care and Sharing Tips for Your Christmas Cheeseboard

Cheese Care and Sharing Tips for Your Christmas Cheeseboard

Many of us are looking forward to the tradition of our Christmas cheeseboards. With Covid-19 restrictions still unclear for the festive period, customers are asking how much cheese to buy and how best to keep it in good condition if being consumed over several smaller gatherings. Should you buy a large selection and portion it out? Send your family the same cheeseboard as you to mirror your Christmas experiences? 

We have tailored our Christmas range this year to allow for smaller parties so that everyone can enjoy a cheeseboard, regardless of who they’re spending it with. We offer Christmas cheeseboards in small, medium and large sizes here or you can customise your own selection.  

Ultimately your Christmas cheese is to be enjoyed by you and your loved ones. There are no rules as to how you should consume your cheeseboard. However, there are some pieces of advice we can give you to ensure your cheese remains in prime condition. In following this advice, remember that our cheeses are handmade. They vary with each day’s production and change as they mature. As such, it is necessary to take an approach to cheese care which responds to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines. 

 

1. How much cheese should I order?  

Generally, we recommend roughly between 100-150g of cheese per person per sitting. With Christmas being a time of excess, we encourage you to order enough to last you through the festive period, allowing you to work your way through a larger chunk over several sittings. 

Cheese keeps much better in larger portions than in small pieces, which can dry out more quickly. We'll be sharing ideas for using up any leftover Christmas cheese in creative and delicious ways in a future blog. 

2. How long will my cheese last? 

When you buy cheese from us it will arrive to you in peak condition. If you store it properly and care for it well, it will remain in this state for about 10-14 days, long enough to see you through the festive period. Harder cheeses like Lincolnshire Poacher and Coolea will last the longest, while softer varieties like Baron Bigod or St Jude are best consumed earlier. Remember that cheese is a preserved product, so it will remain edible and often delicious for quite some time after these recommended dates but will likely change in texture and taste. 

3. How should I store my cheese? 

The best place for your cheese is in the fridge. Even within your fridge there are actions you can take to keep your cheese in prime condition. If possible, avoid storing cheese in the fridge door as it is very drying. You may be tempted to keep your cheese in an airtight Tupperware container but without any airflow, you’ll encourage a coating of white mould on the cut surface that may taint the flavour of the cheese. Instead, keep wrapped cheese in a cardboard or loosely covered box in the fridge, or in the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge. The fruit and vegetables will create a humid microclimate that the cheese will keep quite happily in. 

Your cheese will arrive wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. We are happy to provide some  extra cheese paper with your order, which is useful if you are buying large pieces and don't plan on eating it all at once. Click on the link above to add it to your order, or search 'cheese paper' on our site to add it to your basket.

If you have purchased a whole cheese, such as a Colston Bassett Stilton, it can be kept in an unheated space such as a shed, a garage, larder or cellar until it is ready to cut. If you don’t have an unheated space it is better to find room in your fridge rather than leaving it out in a centrally heated room. 

4. I have lost the wrapping paper that my cheese arrived in. How can I rewrap my cheese?

As soon as you receive your cheese, be sure to unbox it and check it. If any of the paper wrapping has become damaged or loose on route to you, you should rewrap it before storing.   

Baking parchment or greaseproof paper is the best substitute for cheese paper. We strongly discourage you from wrapping your cheese in cling film. Binding it in cling film makes the cheese sweat without anywhere for the moisture to go. This moist layer will encourage white moulds to grow which will negatively affect the flavour.  

Struggling to rewrap your cheese? Cheesemonger Srdja gives you a quick tutorial in the video below. Tip: It's great practice for wrapping Christmas presents.

How to wrap small pieces of cheese from Neal's Yard Dairy on Vimeo

5. My cheese has started to look a bit dry, or it has developed mould on the surface. Is it still fine to eat?  

Absolutely. You can use a knife to scrape off the superficially damaged layer of the cheese or cut a thin slice off. What is underneath is perfectly safe to eat and should still taste delicious. 

6. How long before serving should I take the cheese out of the fridge? 

It is important not to serve your cheese as soon as you remove it from the fridge. Cold temperatures will numb the flavours of the cheese, which will be released once the cheese has been brought to room temperature. It’s best to let the cheese warm up gradually over a few hours to enjoy its full potential. Keeping your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature helps to avoid any risk of it drying out. 

7. I hope to serve the cheese at several small gatherings. Should I serve the whole pieces each time, or cut into portions? 

If you don’t plan on eating all of your cheese at once, we recommend cutting the amount you wish to serve each time from the larger piece, instead of bringing the whole piece out. Each time you remove cheese from the fridge and bring it up to room temperature, all the wonderful live cultures and moulds kick into action, which accelerates the pace of maturation and shortens its prime eating window. You can then rewrap the rest to return to the fridge, keeping it fresh for later.

8. Can I freeze my cheese? 

Yes, you can freeze your cheese though we do not recommend it. Freezing cheese works better for harder cheeses but will inevitably affect the taste and texture once defrosted. We advise using thawed cheese in cooking, where the flavours will mingle with the other ingredients. 

9. How can I share the experience of enjoying a cheeseboard with friends and family when we are not together?

Share the same cheese selection virtually with your loved ones by placing separate orders of the same cheeses to different addresses, and choosing the same preferred delivery date at checkout. Organise a video call to enjoy your cheeseboards together, and discover what different accompaniments everyone likes to bring to the table. Perhaps consider our Virtual Tasting Selection, where we discuss four of our favourite cheeses and the styles, makes and maturation behind them. Ordering for a large group, or would like some assistance? Get in touch and we can help.

 

We hope that these tips will help you keep your Christmas cheese in prime condition and allow you to enjoy it in a variety of ways across the festive period. 

If you will place your Christmas order online for delivery, you can pre-order now and choose a preferred delivery date in December by using the calendar at checkout. We encourage you to choose a delivery date a few days before the day you first wish to serve the cheese, in order to allow flexibility for unforeseen delivery delays during this busy time.

If you have any further questions, would like some recommendations, or wish to place your order(s) by phone, contact us here. We would love to hear from you.

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