If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you’re a cheese lover. But even the most devoted cheese lovers with the best intentions can end up committing some crimes against their cheese without even realizing it.
Don’t worry—we all make mistakes. What matters is that you’re willing to change, and fortunately this kind of self-improvement has a distinctly delicious reward. So let’s start here, with these eight things you could be doing wrong with cheese and how to fix them:
1. Storing cheese in plastic wrap
Cheese is a living, breathing thing. When it’s wrapped in plastic it can no longer intake oxygen and it suffocates. So take your cheese out of its plastic prison and try a specialty cheese paper or wrapping it tightly in wax paper and storing it loosely in a plastic bag, which will help keep the humidity where it needs to be and not let all those odd refrigerator flavors affect it.
2. Eating cheese straight out of the refrigerator
When you break into a cold cheese, you miss out on a lot of tasty complexity. Refrigeration dulls the flavor and makes a cheese’s texture brittle instead of soft and yielding. Always let soft cheeses, like Camembert, sit out for at least 15 minutes, and allow firmer wedges like Gouda to temper for at least 30 minutes.
3. Tossing the rind
Unless they’re coated in wax, most rinds are completely edible and can add all kinds of exciting flavors and textures to your cheese experience.
4. Adding accompaniments before trying the cheese
Cheese is a magical, delicious work of art and deserves your full, unadulterated love and attention. So before you dollop a good jam or honey on top of your cheese, taste it alone in all its naked glory, then try adding a little something extra to take it to the next level.
5. Buying too much cheese at once
We’re not saying you should buy less cheese, just to buy it more often. Cheese begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s cut. For the best flavor, only buy as much cheese as you can eat within a few days.
6. Buying pre-shredded cheese
Pre-shredded cheese has preservatives and declumping agents that can actually make the texture a little rubbery when you melt it down. Even if you prefer your shredded cheese straight up, freshly grated cheese has way more flavor, a more pliable texture, and it’s also cheaper.
7. Ignoring cheese because you’re lactose intolerant
This is one of our favorite myths to bust: Many cheeses are virtually lactose-free. The process of cheesemaking converts lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid, which is why cheese is so tangy. The longer a cheese ages, the less lactose it will have.
8. Cubing your cheese
More surface area means more flavor on your tongue, so you always want to go with thin slices instead of cubes. Let cheese’s shape tell you how to cut it. For example, slice wedges into thin triangles and cut whole wheels just like you would a pie.