Purchasing

Cheese Case
  • Find a reliable source such as a cheese shop, specialty market or gourmet foods store that specializes in cheeses. You will want to make sure that the staff is knowledgeable about cheese and that product turns over frequently. Consumers who are the most fortunate have access to retailers who will cut-to-order. Your local farmer's market will often give you the opportunity to speak directly with the cheesemaker, who will ensure that the products are in the best possible condition. A cheesemaker's web site can also be an excellent resource for learning about, and purchasing, cheese.
     

  • Check the labels, especially on fresh cheeses, to make sure that the product is well within its expiration date. For larger cheeses that are cut down to smaller amounts, the store label should also include an expiration date near the weight and price amounts. If a cheese is reduced in price for quick sale, it's generally not a bargain, and your experience will be less than a happy one.
     

  • Make sure the cheese looks fresh! Examine the cheese, especially the aroma, appearance, and flavor. An ammonia, sour milk, barnyardy or unclean aroma is undesirable. The cheeses should be characteristic of their style, with an interior that is free of cracks, discoloration, and mold (unless it is a blue cheese). Note that natural rind and other artisan cheeses, may have a rustic appearance, which is one of their attributes. When possible, taste the cheese before you buy it. If you are unable to taste the cheese but want to give it a try, buy the smallest amount possible.
     

  • Because of the wide variety of dietary concerns and restrictions, check labels for the type of milk (cow, goat, sheep) from which the cheese was made, whether it is a pasteurized or raw milk, and whether it uses animal, vegetal, or microbial rennet. If the label doesn't say, then ask. A good cheesemonger will be able to tell you and be happy to steer you in the right direction, especially if religious, dietary or animal rights concerns govern your diet.
     

  • Purchase only as much cheese as you will be able to consume within a few days. If you get a cheese that is spoiled or past its prime, return it to the store where it was purchased and ask for a replacement or a refund. Most retailers want to keep their customers happy.

(Based on information from the website of the American Cheese Society.)

 

 

 

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