Domain Six: Cheese Storage and Handling

It is expected that individuals involved in making, selling or distribution of cheese have knowledge of proper care and storage of cheese.  Proper handling begins when the cheese leaves the cheesemaking facility and ends when it is consumed.  This section will be divided into five sections.


I. Storage of packaged cheese at producer’s facility

A. Cheese should leave the creamery at proper temperature

B. The cheese should be wrapped and packed in a manner that will protect it in travel

C. Description of the cheese, batch number, date of production and other pertinent information should be packed with the cheese.  This will help in the event of a recall. (Please cross reference  Domain Eleven,
Regulations and Regulators)

D. Note moisture content of cheese for retailers.  This will dictate which cheeses can be stored out of refrigeration.


II. Best methods for storage during transportation from producer to distributor, from distributor to retailer.

A. Air ship– proper packing, ice packs, etc

B. Delivery by refrigerated truck or in coolers

C. Identify specific retailer mandates for receiving cheese

D. Know State, Federal and local requirements (Please cross reference Domain Eleven,
Regulations and Regulators)


III. Storage at distributor facilities

A. Rotate stock; first in, first out

B. Refrigerate cheese between 34° and 38°F

  1. Must meet local standards (Please cross reference Domain Eleven,
    Regulations and Regulators)

C. Keep cheese cool, away from fans

D. Maintain Inventory control for optimum health of cheese


IV. Storage at retail/restaurant facilities

A.  Rotate stock; first in, first out

B.  Refrigerate cheese between 34° and 38°F.

  1. Must meet local standards (Please cross reference Domain Eleven,
    Regulations and Regulators)

C. Store cheeses by type in separate environments

D. Keep cheese cool, away from refrigerator fans

E. Wrapping/re-wrapping

  1. Papers – perforated 2 ply paper with waxy finish
  2. Plastics – Should only be used under conditions whereby the plastic is and/or consumed frequently; i.e. once a wheel is opened/exposed, it should be sold/consumed quickly; i.e. within a few days
  3. Mold
    1. Know the difference between beneficial mold and bad mold
    2. With beneficial mold, you must know the appropriate rate of mold development

F. Low moisture, aged cheeses can be displayed at room temperature for serving cheese

  1. White paper on cheese out of refrigeration from the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin:

G. Shelf Life General Guidelines

  1. The more moisture a cheese has, the shorter the shelf life (as few as 2 days)
  2. The harder a cheese is, the longer the shelf life (can be up to 2 years)
    1. Once a wheel of cheese is opened, it suspends the ripening process and it should be sold as soon as possible
    2. Cheeses age more slowly in colder temperatures; they age more quickly in warmer temperatures
  3. Odor – soft ripened cheeses if ammoniated are too old
    1. Damaged packaging
    2. Dry cheese – cracked
    3. Wet cheese
    4. Expired dating


V. Storage at home: The three C’s of cheese handling

A. Clean

  1. Cheese easily absorbs other flavors, keep it away from other aromatic foods in the refrigerator

B. Cold

  1. Refrigerate cheese between 34° and 38°F

C. Covered

  1. Cheese loses flavor and moisture when it’s exposed to air
  2. Wrap hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, in tightly drawn plastic wrap
  3. Store soft or fresh cheeses, such as Mascarpone, in clean, airtight containers
  4. Wrap semi-hard cheeses, including Cheddar, in lighter wrapping paper, such as parchment

*Excerpted from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Cheesecyclopedia on Cheese Storage & Handling