20 October 2010


In a little forgotten village in northern Michigan, there is a secret place - a magical place!  It is the Amish store of damaged groceries, where food is practically free (and usually expired).  The A-man will put weeks of food on your table for a mere $20.  He will also relabel things like m&ms and try to pass them off as his own home-made "candy coated chocolate bits."  But nonetheless, this grand little group of Amish is near and dear to my heart because of the one food I could not live without:


From some mystical source, the Amish get deli-style logs of cheese (6-7 lbs) and resells them for $15 - a relative steal compared to grocery store cheeses.  If you want the cheddar, you have to be there on Friday or you might get stuck with a bland colby or colby jack.  Alas, I was only fortunate enough to find a colby during my last visit to the backwoods of Michigan.

After shipping my precious cheese back to NC, I set about preserving it in a way that would not take up a quarter of the already-full fridge.  That's right, friends, I waxed it.

Now, since I've already blogged about this I'm not going to repeat myself.  But I will tell you about some problems I encountered with the colby that cheddar did not present.  For one thing, the cheddar was rectangular block, whereas the colby was cylindrical.  When I cut my little serving-size cubes, they didn't fit in my tin can so I had to cut them a little more squarely as shown in the photo.

The second problem was that I was reusing the wax that I'd used on the cheddar.  That in itself is a common practice (the wax peels cleanly off the cheese), but under normal circumstances one is supposed to melt the wax and strain it through some cheesecloth to ensure cleanliness.  I didn't do that, and I should have.  That still worked out.  The bigger problem was that I had less wax, and so I didn't give the colby as many coats as I should have.  I still gave it three coats of wax but I would have preferred one more.

And lastly, the colby was full of air bubbles.  So the wax didn't stick as well on the first coat.  Then later when I peeled one open, the combination of trapped steam and these little air bubbles in the cheese made the exterior of the blocks a little bit spongy.   Still completely edible, but not the prettiest to look at.

So that's waxed cheese.  It doesn't need refrigeration, and after it is waxed it continues to age.  Store in a cool, dry place and turn the blocks every couple of weeks because cheese wax is slightly softer than paraffin and may start to "flow" if left in the same position, especially in a warmer area.

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