Weekly trips to the grocery store just aren’t complete without a stop at the cheese counter. Whether feta for your Greek salad, sharp cheddar cheese for a vegetarian quiche, smoked gouda for homemade pizza night, there’s a cheese that will improve your dish in a way that your taste buds will thank you. We sat down with a maître fromager (AKA cheese master) and Cheese: A Love Story host, Afrim Pristine for his dos and don’ts for buying cheese.
Don’t Forget to Plan Ahead
Overbuying cheese is one of the most common rookie mistakes people make, Afrim says. First of all, cheese needs about two to four hours to breathe before being enjoyed. “If you overbuy, store it in your fridge, and take it back out again, the integrity of the cheese isn’t quite the same.”
Do Buy in Smaller Quantities
With this in mind, Pristine recommends buying four or five different cheeses but purchasing them in smaller amounts. When you purchase the right amount of cheese that you need, you don’t need to worry about unintentional food waste.
Don’t Store Cheese in Plastic Bags
Afrim recommends wrapping cheese in a layer of wax or parchment paper with another layer of tinfoil. This technique will help cheese have the proper amount of moisture it needs, he explains.
“Creamy cheeses can stay in the fridge for a maximum of 7 to 10 days. Hard cheeses have a longer shelf life, but won’t be as enjoyable after more than a few weeks,” he says.
Do Seek Out Local Canadian Cheese
Did you know that provinces like Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and even Nova Scotia make world-class cheese? Make the most out of living in Canada’s unique cheese culture by trying out different local cheeses.
As a proud Torontonian, one of Afrim’s favourite Canadian cheese is a Mountainoak gouda from Ontario. “Mountainoak gouda is a pretty complex cheese. It’s very salty and nutty, kind of like butterscotch or a bar of very dark chocolate.”
Don’t Stick to the Same Cheese Every Time
It can be all too easy to get into a cheese rut. You already know that grated Parmigiano-Reggiano will taste phenomenal over your legendary risotto or go-to Caesar salad, but why not mix it up and try new recipes centered around your favourite cheeses?
Curb any chance of cheese boredom by experimenting with new unique pairings regularly. For example, if you like Parmigiano-Reggiano, try it how Afrim’s family recipe: a salad with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged balsamic vinegar, strawberries and basil.
Do Be Adventurous
“The best thing about cheese is that it’s personal,” Afrim explains, adding that’s what makes cheese so unique. “There’s so much variety, but I think it’s really up to you on the individual on what you like.”
In other words, don’t be afraid to get out of your element at your local cheese counter and test out a few unique combos in the kitchen. Or you can just try new options for beloved recipes, like these perfect cheeses for grilled cheese sandwiches. Trust us: the flavour payoff of going out of your comfort zone will be so worth it.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.
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