There are three important things to keep in mind when storing cheese before serving: keep it clean, covered, and cold. Here are three easy tips to help keep your cheese tasting its best:

  • To keep cut cheese fresh and ready-to-serve, store cheese in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, at a temperature of  34 to 38º F.
  • Covering the cheese is very important because cheese easily absorbs other flavors and can also lose its own. Also keep in mind that cheese also can lose moisture with its flavor if exposed to air for too long.
  • As a general guide, to maximize flavor, take cheese out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before guests arrive.

Serving tips:  Rule number 1--Don't overcrowd a cheese board. Give guests plenty of room to cut slices. Also, separate cheeses so they won't begin to taste the same. In fact, it's a good idea to isolate strong cheeses and put them on their own serving boards. Be sure to have a knife for each cheese, so flavors don't mingle..

To slice, or not?  While some experts believe that cutting cheese in advance makes your presentation look less than impressive (especially if cheese is cut into cubes), others argue that slicing cheese before guests arrive is preferable: It prevents people from "hacking away" at wedges—or worse, digging out the cheese from inside the rind.

If you do decide to slice cheese in advance, the general rule is to make slices that echo the shape the cheese came in. For example, don't cut off the tip of a wedge of cheese; instead, slice lengths on the sides of the wedge.

For cheese sold as rectangular bricks, cut thin slices.  For cylinder-shaped cheeses, cut thin round circles. And if you have a cheese that came in the shape of a wheel, experts recommend cutting the first wedge and placing it alongside the wheel, so guests won't feel uncomfortable being the first to cut into it.

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