WHY WAX HARD CHEESES?
Waxing cheese is a simple method used to protect hard cheese from airborne bacteria, unwanted mold, and excessive drying. Waxing is used on cheeses with aging periods of only a few months, while cheeses aged for any longer than four or five months are usually bandaged. Waxing is generally used on semi-hard and hard cheeses. Hard cheese wax is a food-grade, paraffin-based wax that can be purchased in 1-pound slabs, enough for coating many, many cheeses. Cheese wax can be reheated and strained to be used again and again.
PREPARATION FOR WAXING HARD CHEESES
Waxing cheese can be a messy process, so before beginning, cover countertops with parchment or wax paper. Use disposable utensils (plastic spoons and butter knives, paper towels, etc.) whenever possible. It may be a good idea to wear gloves and an oilcloth apron, if you have them, although it isn’t absolutely necessary. Cleaning up wax messes can be frustrating, so it’s easier to take the time to prevent the messes in the first place. Avoid pouring any wax down the sink drain. It may damage plumbing.
Chilling the cheese for 10-12 hours before waxing is also helpful.
HOW TO WAX HARD CHEESES
- To begin waxing, place 3-4 ounces of solid wax into a stainless bowl set into a pot of simmering water, or a double boiler. The melted wax should be about as deep as half the diameter of your cheese. Add more wax to the pot/bowl if needed.
- Once the wax is fully melted, hold one side of the cheese and dip it into the melted wax, holding it there for only about 3 seconds.
- Pull the cheese out and allow the wax to harden for about 30 seconds, then repeat the process with the other side of the cheese, holding it in midair for about 30 seconds more, to harden.
- Place the waxed cheese on a square of wax paper and leave it there to harden for about an hour.
- Use a pastry brush to touch up any problem areas by dipping the brush into melted hard wax and brushing it on. To clean this brush, run boiling water over it, being careful to catch the discarded wax in a bowl rather than letting it run down the drain, then dry the brush with a paper towel.
Your cheese is now fully waxed and ready for aging!