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Cheese - blocks vs. shreds
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Shannon Woody
(swoodyut) - F - MLife

Locale: The Front Range
Cheese - blocks vs. shreds on 03/19/2010 22:09:53 MDT Print View

And now for my second post.

I reallyreallyreally love cheese. I'm not afraid of carrying it on the trail for several days - after all, cheese and other dairy products were developed specifically as a preservation technique for milk. Although I'm clearly no model UL-er, I believe cheese has always been a great trail food for me for protein and calories to the ounce. And duh-lish-uh-ness.

I'm currently considering adding shredded cheese to some recipes (see my first post about dehydrating cheese sauce).

For a semi-hard cheese (like a good, strong, Irish cheddar) - does it work to shred at home and then store in a plastic baggy during the trip, perhaps with a dessicant? Or do you get better results by packing a block and shredding as you go along... which necessitates the packing and use of one of those ridiculous-looking mini shredders?

Am I missing some other solution? Ideally I don't want to purchase some other company's freeze-dried cheese or cheese powder - I mean, seriously, who's selling a fabulous raw goat's milk Spanish Roncal in powdered form? And for a decent price????

Thoughts appreciated.

Edited by swoodyut on 03/19/2010 22:20:36 MDT.

Shannon Woody
(swoodyut) - F - MLife

Locale: The Front Range
paraffin on 03/19/2010 22:14:47 MDT Print View

Also, I saw someone recommend dipping cheese slices in paraffin. Sounds like a fabulous solution to keeping cheese fresher longer. Is there any kind of non-petroleum-based alternative out there?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: paraffin on 03/19/2010 22:42:51 MDT Print View

Beeswax :-)

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Cheese - blocks vs. shreds on 03/19/2010 23:42:45 MDT Print View

Shredded cheese spoils faster than blocks. The greater the surface area the faster it goes. For a couple days it's probably fine, but I wouldn't want to go much longer. I just use a knife to chunk up small pieces that melt into whatever I'm cooking.

Harder cheeses also last longer than softer ones. I've carried asiago and parmesan for up to a couple of weeks. Cheddars last about a week.

Wrapping in wax paper also helps it last a little longer (not as long as dipped in wax but easier). And can be burned for fire starter if needed.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
wax on 03/20/2010 07:40:47 MDT Print View

The waxed paper is a great idea!

One thing I like to do on trips that are 5 or 6 days is to wrap the cheese block in plain brown paper and put that in a ziploc. The paper absorbs some of the oiliness output from the cheese in warmer weather.

Pieter Kaufman
(Pieter) - F
Grating on 03/20/2010 23:10:04 MDT Print View

Shannon, I share your love of cheese. I usually have at least a little on trips.

Assuming you have a decent knife, you don't need a grater, at least if the cheese is actually semi-hard to hard. Just place the edge of the blade at roughly a 90 degree angle to a flat side of the cheese, and scrape. Depending on the cheese, it may not come out neat and tidy, nor uniform, but you can get it quite papery. Too, if your knife has a good edge and you're somewhat adept with it, it's not hard to shave off very, very thin slices; thin enough to quickly melt on soup or pasta or whatever. I do it often.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Grating on 03/20/2010 23:34:19 MDT Print View

+1 on hard salty cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesean, Asiago, Mizithra; even Manchego.

A little bit goes a long way with these and I have found them to last longer also. Sometimes cheaper Italianish restaurants will have little 1/2 oz.(+/-?) packets of parmesean, which are great for the trail. Nutritional Yeast can be a good vegan alternative and is quite lightweight.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
shredded is fine for less than a week on 03/25/2010 11:01:41 MDT Print View

I am a total cheese fanatic, it's the only thing I love more on the trail than dried Mangoes.

Atleast one out of every two dinners has fresh cheese in it.

I shred (yes irish ched is the best, I especially like the kerrygold dubliner) it before I go for the things that will use it, like quesedillas.. I've never had a major problem with spoilage, upto a week or so.

Honestly, spoilage isn't really accurate with cheese, as it doesn't really ever go bad. The issue with shredded cheese is just that the mold is on too fine of particles to remove.

That being said, I've never been sick from moldy cheese, and mold is and integral part of producing so many fine cheese varieties.

Are there any types of truly harmful molds that can grow on cheese commonly?

I often re-ripen exotic cheeses in my fridge. I've got a St. Andre that's been in there two years, it's total pungent slime now, but it's incredible. Just cut the really nasty looking parts off, and that's probably just me being uptight.

P.S. Aaron, what do you mean by "even" Manchego? :p

Edited by jdempsey on 03/25/2010 11:04:13 MDT.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
BTW.. on 03/25/2010 11:02:39 MDT Print View

I've never used any kind of desiccant, or felt it was needed, and I live/hike mostly in the south.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Cheese - blocks vs. shreds on 03/25/2010 11:59:03 MDT Print View

Deli slices. I get the deli to overlap/fan several slices of cheese about the size of a tortilla or bagel. Between each of these layers I have them put a plastic layer. I do the same with lunchmeats. To make a wrap, I don't even have to touch the food, just slap them down on a tortilla or bread, peel off the plastic, add some optional sauce, and eat. Stole the idea from Subway.

If cooking, torn slices melt like shreds but don't dry out or mold quite as fast.

Not an option with some of your soft and semi-soft cheeses though.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Cheese on 03/25/2010 21:49:11 MDT Print View

Javan, you might like the 5 and 9 year old, 2 lbs each, cheddars that I have ageing in my fridge. I took one 5 year old to work one day and just about caused a riot with everyone trying to get a piece!

But back on topic. As others have mentioned, don't pre-shred, unless it's just for an overnighter or two. For longer trips I find a common vegtable peeler works admirably well for shredding cheese.

From the list of preferred cheeses I find Jarlsberg and Comte missing...both excellent with Genoa salami!

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Cheese on 03/25/2010 22:02:54 MDT Print View

Baby-Bel makes at least three kinds of cheeses that are pre-wax coated and sealed and will last for many days on the trail. Walmart carries them and I have seen them in other stores as well. My wife and I practically lived on Baby-Bel cheese and French bread on our visit to Tahiti, where food prices were outrageous. I have taken them on my JMT hike and on my hike on a portion of the Sierra High Route, and they were fresh after 5 days, about all my will power would let them stay!

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Cheese on 03/27/2010 23:56:35 MDT Print View

I just have to say, wax coated cheese will last virtually *forever* under nearly any non-extreme heat (read: anything not hot enough to melt the wax), and is in my opinion overkill.

Waxpaper/parchment paper suggested before, is a great way to avoid the oil-drain that some rich cheeses will experience in hot climates. That being said, the oiliness is not a health hazard, and depending on how much you really love cheese, could be considered a "state" of endearment.

Re: Monty: If you haven't already, try ageing in oil. When I lived in Spain, it was common practice for the cheese-heads I met to age in various varietals of olive (and other exotic types) oils.. I had some mature Cabrales that spent about 18 months in an unfiltered Picual, that almost gave me a tongue sprain.. It was incredible.

Shannon Woody
(swoodyut) - F - MLife

Locale: The Front Range
OH, my on 08/12/2010 19:57:43 MDT Print View

Hi all - So I was away from the forums for a bit and didn't notice that I had any replies to the two threads I started. Need to invoke the 'watch this thread' button, since I'm used to automated emails settings on other sites.

Anyways, THANKS for the replies!

I haven't really had much of a chance to get out this summer... bummer. But will be hitting the trails over the next three weeks of unemployment. Will be experimenting with cheese in all ways. And will report back.

Also, you guys really ARE cheese-heads. Tales of the 'extreme' ripening make me retract my self-proclaimed cheese-head status.

Thanks again!

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Baby-bel cheese on 08/24/2010 14:41:54 MDT Print View

"Baby-Bel makes at least three kinds of cheeses that are pre-wax coated and sealed and will last for many days on the trail."

We took these to Yosemite and when we opened them they were perfectly fresh even after sitting several days in 100 degree weather. It may be overkill, but it certainly works. ;^)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Baby-bel cheese on 08/24/2010 16:04:58 MDT Print View

Larry, I'll bet the Yosemite black bears loved you.

They will eat the cheese, the wax, and the wrapper.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Cheese - blocks vs. shreds on 08/24/2010 16:11:34 MDT Print View

Shredded cheese has a huge surface area to catch and hold molds etc. It's OK in the cold for a few days, but for longer trips you really need solid blocks.

Then you eat the lumps real fast ...


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Cheese - the lifesaver on 08/24/2010 17:19:25 MDT Print View

I was leading a group up a big volcano when we got hit by a bad snow storm. The stoves would hardly burn, so we couldn't cook our expected food. However, I had a big two-pound block of Tillimook cheese. That was cut up into eight pieces, one for each group member, and that got us through the night.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Cheese - the lifesaver on 08/24/2010 18:10:38 MDT Print View

Tillamook Cheese should be always taken along ;-) Especially the smoked cheddar. Oh man.

My Momma grew up in Tillamook. As kids we never bought anything else.

Reginald Donaldson
(worth) - MLife

Locale: Wind River Range
Vinegar on 09/06/2010 21:49:55 MDT Print View

I take cheese cloth and dampen it with vinegar. The vinegar will retard mold growth and the clotha will soak up some of the oily residue from the cheese.