Your Guide to Choosing the Best Grocery Store Cheese
A cheese shop is definitely the best place to buy cheese, but I don’t live anywhere near one. Fortunately, most grocery stores and supermarkets carry some pretty good brands. If you know what to look for, you can easily find a good wedge almost anywhere.
Here are a couple guidelines to help you choose the best cheese at the grocery store.
Know What You Need
Decide on what you’re looking for before you get to the store. If you need a cheese to eat throughout the week, buy a half pound of 1 cheese that you know and like, such as Wisconsin cheddar or fresh goat cheese. If you’re putting together a plate for friends, choose 3 – 4 cheeses and buy 2 – 3 ounces total cheese per person.
Avoid Shredded and Sliced Cheese
Cheese is always at its best when cut fresh. Pre-shredded or sliced cheeses often have additives and preservatives which can take away from its natural texture and flavor. Arm yourself with a good cheese grater and a sharp knife and always cut your cheeses right before serving.
Use Visual Cues
Think of a cheese you’ve liked in the past and choose something that looks similar. For example, if you love a creamy brie, look for a wedge with a white rind and a soft paste. If you like it stinky, look for a rosy red or orange rind. Always check to see if the piece is misshapen, dented, slimy, or has any cracks in the rind – these are signs that the cheese is past its prime.
Check the Label
Cheeses labeled PDO, AOP, AOC, or DOP signify government protected status. Basically, it’s a guarantee that the cheese has cultural roots and is high quality. These include Gruyere, Manchego, and Parmigiano. Check for a the date on the label as well – the more recently the piece was cut, the better it will taste.
Store it in Paper
Cheese is a living food and needs to breathe in order to stay fresh. Plastic wrap cuts off oxygen supply, suffocating the cheese. Once you get home, remove the plastic and tightly wrap the cheese wedge in parchment or cheese paper. I recommend Formaticum paper, which keeps your cheese feelin’ fresh.
Keep a log or a note in your phone to record the names of cheeses that you’ve liked in the past and what kind it was ( ie Prairie Breeze – cheddar). This will help guide you in your future fromage forays.
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