Cheese Paper: How It Saves Your Cheese

Cheese Paper: How It Saves Your Cheese
The cheeserati tell us to never wrap the pricey artisan Kentucky Rose or Humboldt Fog we've just bought in plastic wrap. But what's a cheese lover to do when the wedges come home in that plastic?
Some shops send their cheeses home wrapped in paper created just for the job. But is it really necessary? And what does it do?
Yes, says Mark Goldman, founder of Brooklyn-based Formaticum, maker of a specialty cheese paper, and it does more than keep cheese from drying out.
"Cheese is a pretty hearty food product when it's in its whole wheel," says Goldman. "Once that rind is broken, the cheese starts to absorb other types of flavors. Or molds that had a happy balance on the rind of cheese, it's new surface for them to colonize. Secondary growth on the (newly exposed) surface can change the flavor of the cheese."
Other problems that can occur in a badly stored cheese: When a cheese dries out, salt collects on the surface and crystallizes; the butter fat can separate out; and water can condense on the surface.
The paper most retailers use to wrap cheese is a butcher or freezer paper, says Goldman. The problem: Those papers "are not designed to regulate humidity or allow oxygen exchange, which are both critical for storing cheese properly," he says.
Formaticum paper, and others like it, are built to do the job. The paper features wax-coated paper on the outside, which allows an exchange of oxygen but prevents moisture from escaping, and a thin sheet of porous plastic on the inside, which wicks away any condensation that might build up on the cheese surface. That moisture is trapped between the layers, says Goldman.
"It's kind of like Gortex," says Goldman. "The two layers are working in concert to keep the cheese humidity in — to preserve the level of the humidity that is there. The inner layer wicks away any condensation which can cause surface mold growth."
Specialty cheese shops, such as Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine in Chicago, tend to use specialty cheese papers. Pastoral doesn't sell packages of specialty wrap because it already packages customers' freshly cut wedges in cheese paper for the trip home, according to senior buyer Lydia Burns, and that paper can be used for storage. The shop will sell extra sheets, though, if you want them.
If your cheesemonger doesn't wrap your purchases in specialty paper, though, you can buy your own. Look for Formaticum papers and bags at Eataly, 43 E. Ohio St., $8.80 for a box of 15 sheets or bags, and some Sur La Table and Crate & Barrel stores. Or for $9 at formaticum.com.


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Upcoming Events

A list of all the upcoming cheese events and festivals you need to know about. 

July

Toledo Cheese Days 
Thursday, July 11th – Saturday, July 13th
Toledo, Washington 
Toledo's biggest annual summer celebration includes a parade, car show, pancake breakfast, auctions, beer and cheese tastings, and much more. It’s a family-friendly party, with most of the events taking place on Saturday.

Little Falls Cheese Festival
Saturday, July 13th
Little Falls, NY
New York State’s premier gathering of cheesemakers. Featuring over 120 New York cheeses as well as gourmet foods, craft beverages, live entertainment and more.

54th Annual Colby Cheese Days
Friday, July 19th – Sunday June 21st
Colby, WI
Held in the birthplace of Colby Cheese, this annual festival includes a parade, tractor pull, and food vendors.

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival
Saturday, July 27th
Odessa, NY
Showcasing the cheeses from the members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance as well as the best in homemade, homegrown products in NY and PA. Featured FLX wineries, breweries and cideries will offer tastings, and be featured in exclusive pairing and cooking seminars

American Cheese Society Festival of Cheese
Saturday, August 3rd
Richmond, VA
Sample winning cheeses from among the 2,000+ artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses entered into ACS’s prestigious Annual Judging & Competition.

August

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Sunday, August 11th
Shelburne, VT
Taste the state's fine cheeses, local, foods, and beverages, and meet the artisans who make them. Spend a high summer day along the shores of Lake Champlain at the historic Shelburne Farms Coach Barn sampling, buying, learning, and networking. 

The Science of Artisan Cheese
Wednesday, August 14 - Thursday, August 15th
Somerset, UK
This two-day gathering of cheesemakers, scientists, and industry folks dives into the technical side of artisan cheese.

Arthur Cheese Festival
Saturday, August 31st - Monday, September 2nd
Arthur, Illinois
3 full days of street festival including crafts, food, flea market, sidewalk sales, parade, kids rides and games, and lots of cheese. An auto show, live entertainment, 10k, Amish strongman competition, antique tractor show… something for every one. Free cheese each day.

Cheese-A-Palooza
Saturday, August 31st - Sunday, September 1st
Kenosha, WI
Happenings Magazine and the City of Kenosha are once again teaming up to create an event celebrating Wisconsin's tastiest product - cheese! Featuring multiple stages of live entertainment, food eating contests, food vendors, family friendly activities, and more.

September

SF Cheese Fest
Saturday, September 14th - Sunday, 15th
Sand Francisco, California
California’s premier urban cheese cheese festival features more than 20 of the state’s artisan cheesemakers showcasing their cheeses. Sip on local beverages, enjoy the live music, and meet some of the best cheesemakers in the area.

Lakeridge Winery’s Wine & Cheese Festival
Saturday, September 14th - Sunday, 15th
Clermont, Florida
Come for a complimentary wine tasting with samples of cheese to pair while enjoying live music, Lakeridge wine by the glass, beer, soft drinks and a variety of food available for purchase.

Slow Food Cheese Festival
Wednesday, September 18th - Wednesday, September 25th
Bra, Italy
Eat, drink and learn about cheese, wine, charcuterie, bread and pasta at the world’s biggest international foodie event. Held in the Piemonte countryside, farmers, cheese makers, cheesemongers and affineurs take over the streets of Bra to celebrate the best cheeses in the world.


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