Buying, Storing & Tasting Farmhouse Cheese
Buying your Cheese
There’s a huge array of Irish farmhouse cheeses available to suit all tastes. Buying from a shop where a fresh cut service is available can be a major part of the experience, along with interacting with knowledgeable staff and having the possibility of tasting.
Ideally buy cheese from a specialist cheesemonger, independent grocer, or a specialist deli counter at your local supermarket. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Buy little and often – maturing the cheese is the job of the cheese-makers and sellers.
Storing your Cheese
The vegetable compartment of a refrigerator is usually the best place to store cheese. Ideally, cheese should be wrapped in cheese paper or greaseproof paper, but tin foil also works well for blue cheese.
A Tupperware box to store the cheese can be great so that if it is delicate it does not become affected by any other items stored alongside. If you are lucky enough to have a cool larder this is a great place to store harder cheeses, but softer and blue cheeses do need to be refrigerated.
Tasting your Cheese
Visually, the cheese should not show any particular discolouration and should have some sort of consistency; brownish marks are potentially an indicator of cheese that is past its best. To taste like a pro, first smell the cheese – in the interior and then near the rind. Taste a small amount from the interior first before moving to a little near the rind or including the rind. Aerate your mouth as you taste and savour the flavours.
SHOULD YOU EAT THE RIND? This can be a personal preference in many cases. If you don’t want to each the rind – don’t! To give rough general guidance though, rinds on hard cheeses are more of a protective coating whether natural or waxed and are not meant to be eaten, while soft cheese rinds are mainly considered to be an integral part of the cheeses and you might be missing out on the whole flavour experience if you don’t eat it.
Check out the Farmhouse Cheese map to learn more about the different Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers and their range of cheeses.