My Camembert went under wraps this week. (That’s the bloomy-rind, double-cream I’m making for the next League of Urban Cheesemakers meeting.) I’ve had some experience with cheese paper in the past, but I thought it might be worth expounding upon here…
Cheese paper is a special two-ply sheet (an inner permeated plastic layer and an outer waxy paper layer) that allows a cheese to breathe, while controlling its humidity. It’s used for aging mold-ripened cheeses as well as storing wedges of any old kind of cheese. In fact, when you buy a nice piece of cheese from your friendly monger, it will likely be wrapped in cheese paper, although you might not recognize it for what it is. I always just thought it was nice wrapping paper, but it is actually very functional and has more of an influence on your fromage than you might have thought.
You can get cheese paper from your trusty cheesemaking supply house, of course, which up until recently was where I thought it had to be bought. But because it’s actually not so specialized and is one of those things that is used by non-cheesemakers as well, you can often find it at gourmet food purveyors and kitchen supply shops (even Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table). Picture the kind of store where fancy people shop who feel they must wrap their storebought cheese in purpose-specific paper. On a whim, they’ll probably pick up a Le Cruset mini-soufle dish and a 150-horsepower juicer while they’re there. (While I totally support the proper storage of fine cheese, I also think that a bit of standard wax paper or even a tupperware does the job fine… it’s not like my cheese sits around long enough to dry out or anything!) At any rate, that’s the kind of place you’ll probably find cheese paper.
I found my cheese paper at Sign of the Bear in Sonoma, which is a great shop if you are local to the Bay Area. (They also have good cheese-grade cheese cloth. None of that silly fish net that grocery stores try to pass off as cheese cloth.) The paper I got is made by Formaticum, which seems to be the dominant brand in cheese paper. Their website has a list of places that retail their cheese paper, as well as an online store where you can buy it direct. Murray’s Cheese in NYC also sells some that appears to have a fantastic price ($5 a roll. I got mine for $8. Fomaticum sells online for $9). You’ll also note that both Formaticum and Murray’s have fun designs printed on theirs and come with handy little labels that denote type of milk, type of cheese, and date (of making or readiness, whatever is important to you). That’s not critical to the aging of your cheese, of course, but it’s fun and makes your cheese look legit!
I also found some great (short!) videos on Formaticum’s website that show how to wrap a wheel for aging and how to wrap a wedge for storage. Seems I didn’t quite wrap my wheels correctly, but I’ll know better next time. And now you will too – wrap it up!