Can store-bought cheese continue to age?

Introduction: Aging Cheese

Aging cheese is a process that enhances the flavor, texture, and aroma of cheese. It involves the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the cheese, which produces complex flavors and aromas. Aging cheese is a traditional practice that has been used for centuries to preserve cheese and to create unique and delicious flavors.

What is Cheese Aging?

Cheese aging is a process in which cheese is stored at a specific temperature and humidity level for a period of time. During the aging process, the cheese undergoes a series of chemical and physical changes that affect its flavor, texture, and aroma. The aging process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years, depending on the type of cheese and the desired outcome.

Cheese Aging Process Explained

The aging process begins when cheese is made. During the cheese-making process, enzymes are added to the milk to encourage the curdling process. Once the curd is formed, it is cut into small pieces and heated to release the whey. The curd is then pressed and shaped into the desired form.

After the cheese is made, it is stored in a cool, humid environment to begin the aging process. During aging, the cheese is exposed to bacteria and other microorganisms that break down the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the cheese. This process produces flavor compounds such as amino acids, fatty acids, and esters, which give the cheese its unique flavor and aroma.

Does Store-Bought Cheese Age?

Yes, store-bought cheese can continue to age, but the aging process may be slower than with artisanal cheeses. Most store-bought cheeses are sold at a young age and are not intended to be aged for long periods. However, some store-bought cheeses can be aged for a few months to a few years, depending on the type of cheese and its storage conditions.

Factors Affecting Store-Bought Cheese Aging

The aging of store-bought cheese is affected by several factors, including temperature, humidity, and the type of cheese. Temperature is a critical factor in cheese aging, as it affects the rate of enzymatic and microbial activity. Humidity is also important, as it affects the moisture content of the cheese and can impact the growth of microorganisms.

The type of cheese also plays a significant role in the aging process. Some cheeses, such as cheddar and gouda, are more suitable for aging than others, such as mozzarella and ricotta. The texture and moisture content of the cheese can also impact its ability to age.

The Role of Temperature in Cheese Aging

Temperature is a critical factor in cheese aging, as it affects the rate of enzymatic and microbial activity. Most cheeses are aged between 50 and 60°F, with humidity levels ranging from 80 to 90%. The temperature and humidity levels are carefully controlled to ensure that the cheese ages properly and develops the desired flavors and aromas.

How to Age Store-Bought Cheese Properly

To age store-bought cheese properly, it should be stored in a cool, humid environment. The cheese should be wrapped in cheesecloth or wax paper to allow it to breathe and prevent it from drying out. The cheese should be turned every few days to ensure that it ages evenly.

It is also important to monitor the temperature and humidity levels to ensure that the cheese is aging properly. A wine fridge or a dedicated cheese fridge can be used to store and age cheese at the proper temperature and humidity levels.

How Long Can Store-Bought Cheese Age?

The length of time that store-bought cheese can age depends on the type of cheese and its storage conditions. Some cheeses, such as cheddar and gouda, can be aged for several years, while others, such as mozzarella and ricotta, are not suitable for aging.

Different Types of Store-Bought Cheese

There are many different types of store-bought cheese, including cheddar, gouda, brie, camembert, blue cheese, and parmesan. Each type of cheese has its unique flavor, texture, and aroma, and is aged differently.

Differences Between Aged Store-Bought Cheese and Artisan Cheese

Aged store-bought cheese and artisan cheese are different in several ways. Artisan cheese is typically made using traditional methods, and the aging process is carefully controlled to produce a unique and flavorful cheese. Aged store-bought cheese, on the other hand, is typically made using modern methods and may not have the same depth of flavor as artisan cheese.

Benefits of Aged Cheese

Aged cheese has several benefits, including improved flavor, texture, and aroma. The aging process produces complex flavor compounds that are not present in young cheese. Aged cheese also has a firmer texture and a more pronounced aroma than young cheese.

Conclusion: Store-Bought Cheese Aging

In conclusion, store-bought cheese can continue to age, but the aging process may be slower than with artisanal cheeses. The aging of cheese is affected by several factors, including temperature, humidity, and the type of cheese. To age store-bought cheese properly, it should be stored in a cool, humid environment and monitored carefully. Aged cheese has several benefits, including improved flavor, texture, and aroma, and is a delicious addition to any cheese plate.

Photo of author

Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

Leave a Comment