February 15


How to Buy Great Cheese

Let the Buyer Beware

We did a test where we took plain old orange cheddar in 40-pound blocks from the same supplier, and we put them in different places in the walk-ins. Some we turned every day to counteract the effect of gravity on the butterfat and keep it spread evenly in the cheese. Some were just left alone until we needed to use them. You would be amazed at the difference in the cheeses after only a couple weeks. The quality in the ones that were kept the warmer places in the refrigerator, and that were regularly turned was much better. So there is a lot to do. Go to your good gourmet deli or supermarket and talk a little bit about these things, or get them to take this course so that they can start experimenting with it.

So when you buy cheese, it's the buyer beware. The single most significant bit of advice that I can give you about purchasing cheese is, find a small specialty cheese shop or someone in your gourmet deli or supermarket who really loves cheese and has knowledge. If the store does a lot of business, are continually moving the cheese out, and they buy in such a way that they get it in the best possible condition: only buy what you need for a few days. Take it home, unwrap and cover it with a damp towel. Keep the towel damp so by condensation the temperature will stay about 50 degrees, the ideal temperature for storing most cheese. You'll have great cheese all the time, ready to serve.

If lack the luxury of doing this then make sure you're buying from a shop that moves a lot of cheese and follow some of the principles that I show you in the storing cheese section. You can't improve cheese like an Affineur, a master cheese-ager, but you can resurrect it, or get it healthy and happy. You can improve the quality of the cheese you are buying in stores for the better if you can store it the proper way.

And, if you don't have those people who love things buy from a place that sells a lot and look at what you are buying. I've seen small specialty shops that everybody talks about as the greatest cheese shop ever, with rampant rind rot, drying, and wet rinds. The owner talks a romantic line, trying to pass these things off to people as being more fully matured, more authentically artisan. There is nothing romantic about rotten! So you also have to master the tasting section of this course! Only then, as you get more comfortable with tasting cheese, can you ​be sure. If you enjoy the cheese you get from a particular store continue buying from them and give them feedback, let them know about it.


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