Waxing your cheese does more than make it look pretty. The wax keeps out mold and fungus while keeping in a cheese’s natural moisture and preventing your cheese from drying out and hardening. It’s also a great way to free up fridge space because waxed cheese can be stored elsewhere.
What You Will Need To Wax Your Cheese
• Double Boiler – It’s important to have a dedicated one. They’re fairly cheap to buy new, or you can rig one from a pot and a tin can.
• Cheese Wax – Don’t use paraffin, it’s brittle and has a tendency to crack. The amount of wax you need depends on which method you’re using to wax your cheese: brushing or dipping. For brushing, you need a pound. For dipping, you’ll need five pounds for sufficient dipping depth. Red or black wax is preferred to keep out light, but cheese wax comes in clear as well. Cheese wax is also reusable; just wash with warm soapy water and you’re in business.
• Boar’s Hair (or other natural fiber) Brush – Boar’s Hair works best. Other brushes will distribute your wax too thick. Synthetic brushes will melt.
• Water – For the double boiler.
• Wax Paper – So you can put your cheese down between dips or while brushing. Also protects your work space from the messy wax.
• Labels – You can print them up special, use name tags, pieces of paper, or masking tape. They don’t have to be food-grade because they won’t be touching your cheese. Include: date and type of cheese.
• Gloves – Food handling gloves because the more you handle the cheese directly, the more stuff from your hands gets on it.
• Tongs (Optional) – If you don’t want to use gloves, tongs work just as well.
• Cheese – Preferably home-made and in small quantities. Store-bought cheese will produce liquid and age too quickly. Small quantities because cheese will reshape inside the wax and create air pockets. Hard, dry cheeses work best.
How To Wax Your Cheese
1) Heat about two inches of water in your boiler. Add the second piece of the boiler with some chunks of wax inside.
2) Cover your work surface with wax paper and prepare your cheese. The cheese should be clean and dry so the wax will adhere to it.
3) Melt the wax until its clear, somewhere between 160 – 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower end of that is preferred. Make sure to watch this because the wax has a tendency to explode if it gets too hot.
4) At this point you can either start to brush your wax onto the cheese or dip half of it into the wax. Thin layers are perfect. Dipping requires 5 seconds in the pot and then 10 seconds to cool before you can set it down. Let it cool for a bit before dipping the other half or doing another layer.
5) Repeat step 4 until you have three layers of wax built up.
6) Stick your label onto the wax and repeat step 4 again. You’ll be able to see the label through this last layer of wax.
7) Check for cracks or holes.
8) Store in a cool place, stacked together with like cheeses.
• Your cheese will continue to age after you’ve waxed it so mild cheeses are recommended.
• Thin coats of wax are better than thick ones.
• Your cheese can be stored for 25 years, but it’s better to rotate your stock.
• Cheese Wax is reusable indefinitely.