Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail
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Leigh Baker
(leighb) - F

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/17/2013 16:30:03 MST Print View

One of my favorite dishes at home is angel hair pasta with a little butter,garlic,crushed pepper flakes and good parmesan reggiano cheese. It's simple but elegant using good ingred. For making on the trail, can I shred the parm before leaving and store it in a tiny container, or will it get funky? Currently it looks like the daytime temps will be in the low 50's. Or is it best to leave it in a small piece and then shave it with my tiny swiss army knife blade, lol. I know you can pick up the packets at pizza places, but that stuff's not real parmesan cheese, and goodness knows how old to crushed pepper is :-D.

As always, thanks in advance,
Leigh

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Go ahead with good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/17/2013 17:06:32 MST Print View

Leigh,

Even in the summer, I'd pre-grate the cheese, add the pepper flakes, maybe powdered garlic, and bring it in a small zip-loc bag or old-style 35mm film canister for a few days. At 50-60F, absolutely no problem. Instead of butter, I'd bring olive oil (no spoilage at all and healthier and high calories per gram). Partly, I'd pre-grate it because it is so easy to imagine dropping it in the dirt while trying to grate it in camp.

I know what you mean about pizza parlor parmesan and pepper flakes - they're hard to distinguish from the floor sweepings. Conveniently already in a small packet, but not what a foodie would bring.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/17/2013 17:15:05 MST Print View

there is also Kraft brand parmesan, at Minimus tiny servings.
http://www.minimus.biz/Kraft-Parmesan-Cheese-packet-F01-0700302-1100.aspx
it doesn't need refrigeration.

in theory it's the moisture that makes it go bad.
and if you grate it at home, you can either use a dehydrator, or just skip to the vacuum sealer. However, I'm thinking that even in the worst weather conditions, cheese will keep for a 2-3 days in cellophane or zip-lock baggie with as much air purged out.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/17/2013 21:23:05 MST Print View

Grating cheese in advance exposes a huge area to bacterial growth - aided by contamination from your hands. My advice would be to NOT do it.

As for putting the words 'Kraft' and 'parmesan cheese' together - ugh.

Cheers

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/17/2013 21:26:04 MST Print View

I won't claim that Kraft Parmesan Cheese is the very best in the world, but it works on a long trail. I've gotten the packets from Minimus.biz and they work for me.

--B.G.--

Leigh Baker
(leighb) - F

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
RE:Parm on trail on 11/18/2013 04:08:59 MST Print View

Thanks again all,

@Roger, That was my biggest concern. My hands won't ever touch it; going straight from bag to pasta, but I was worried about exposing it to air. Guess if I had a vacuum sealer it would be ok.....hmmmmm.

@David, Good to know you've done it, and yes I should have mentioned subbing olive oil for the butter; I carry a small vile (of good organic evoo on all trips)...and yes I'm a "foodie", I've become very cognizant of the food that goes in my body these days....probably too late at my age, but what the heck, psychologically it makes me feel better :-D.




edited to correct spelling.

Edited by leighb on 11/18/2013 05:25:11 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: RE:Parm on trail on 11/18/2013 14:42:15 MST Print View

> @Roger, That was my biggest concern. My hands won't ever touch it; going straight
> from bag to pasta,
Misunderstanding here. The period when the bugs grow is between when you grate it at home and use it in the field.

Cheers

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: RE:Parm on trail on 11/18/2013 16:18:55 MST Print View

But the more aged it is, the drier and the less of an issue mold is. A reason to buy the best stuff!

If I had a hunk of Safeway Parmesan and was going out for a week, or it was >80F, then I'd take a different approach - leave it in one piece, keep it cool during the day in a insulating layer, etc.

Well-aged cheese, 50-60F, for a few days? Not an issue IME.

A real foodie would do a side-by-side (pre-grate, grate-on-site) and then a blind taste test.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: RE:Parm on trail on 11/18/2013 16:39:40 MST Print View

"The period when the bugs grow is between when you grate it at home and use it in the field."

Especially grated, which exposes more surface area to provide access to the voracious little wogs, and also to absorb ambient moisture which provides a more suitable environment for them. Leave it whole, IMO. That way, if there are signs
of spoilage, you can trim off the surface and grate the underlying, unspoiled cheese.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/18/2013 17:08:37 MST Print View

The dish you are trying to make sounds like a Paula Dean version of the Roman spaghetti aglio e olio e peperoncino. Keep in mind most of what is sold as pre-grated parmesan reggiano in the USA is almost always the far cheaper grana padano. True parmesan reggiano should be bought/kept as a wedge with its rind. It will keep even in warm temps as it is very dry cheese. You don't even need to grate it, as small chunks/slices can be easily crumbled in your hand.

Edited by rmjapan on 11/18/2013 17:21:17 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Taking good parmesan cheese on the trail on 11/18/2013 17:27:06 MST Print View

I have carried dry, aged parmesan (the good stuff) in a chunk for up to two weeks no problem in daytime temps up to 75 degrees or so. I'd take a chunk and grate or shave as you need it. Tiny graters can be found, or just shave with whatever knife you have.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Another vote for no grating ahead of time on 11/18/2013 17:34:57 MST Print View

Keep it whole and slice/break/shred some off as you need it. Good quality, whole chunks of Parmesan cheese will keep for days outside of the fridge in cool(er) weather. Heck, they'll even keep for a few days in warmish weather as long as you don't mind a little oily sweat on your cheese.

A good aged Parmesan or similar cheese is my go-to cheese for backpacking outside of the colder winter months. When it's cold out, I can be more flexible and bring other less firm, less dry cheeses for a change of pace.

If you REALLY need it to be shredded, you can find small, mini cheese graters at REI-type places. We have one at home that came from some "backpacking" cook set ages ago. It's flat and smaller in surface area than a deck of cards, made of stainless. It works fine for grating needs while hiking and is worth the minuscule weight penalty if we want shredded cheese for a planned meal.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Watch zipper bags on 11/18/2013 17:53:02 MST Print View

I packed out Parmesan cheese for my thru hike and it literally ate the small zipper bags. It looked like they were shredded. At first I thought an animal did it but everyone of my resupplies had the same issue. I suspect the oil in the cheese ate the bags. I also had the same problem with peanut butter in bags, that was the single biggest mistake I made in my thru hike plen.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Watch zipper bags on 11/18/2013 18:11:35 MST Print View

Were those biodegradable bags? That would explain a few things.

--B.G.--

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Watch zipper bags on 11/18/2013 18:41:56 MST Print View

Were those biodegradable bags? That would explain a few things.

--B.G.--

No they were standard small zipper bags, maybe 1.5"x3" from Walmart.

Leigh Baker
(leighb) - F

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
parm on 11/18/2013 18:43:57 MST Print View

Thanks again all. Sounds like a small chunk and shave at dinner time, with a knife, I can do that. And yes, what I'm buying is real parmesan regianno, in a wedge, with a rind.

@Roger, no misunderstanding really, the rest of the sentence..."but I was worried about exposing it to air". I think we were on the same page, maybe I just didn't convey it well.
I completely agree that the more surface area exposed the greater the chance of bacteria.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Watch zipper bags on 11/18/2013 18:54:31 MST Print View

"from Walmart"

Well, maybe that says something.

I've had every kind of food packed in polyethylene bags for long periods of time, and I've never had the bags degrade noticeably.

--B.G.--

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Taking Kraft "parmesan cheese" on the trail on 11/18/2013 22:13:28 MST Print View

Kraft "parmesan cheese" mixed with garlic powder, dried basil, and pine nuts, will keep for several months in a Seal-A-Meal vacuum pouch. Ran that experiment as leftover food from several long distance hikes since 1980. Some of those packages made long journeys via USPS, and sat for weeks under ideal conditions at Tuolumne Meadows or VVR or friends garages. Pretty tough stuff!

Didn't take extra precautions to keep it clean. You know it's gone bad when it turns green. Kraft's product includes potassium sorbate, a pretty safe mold inhibitor.

Better, real parmesan cheese might be a different story.

-- Rex

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Taking Kraft "parmesan cheese" on the trail on 11/18/2013 22:26:46 MST Print View

> Kraft's product includes potassium sorbate, a pretty safe mold inhibitor.
Does it contain cheese?

Cheers

D S
(smoke) - F
Bags on 11/19/2013 07:21:56 MST Print View

Were those biodegradable bags? That would explain a few things.

--B.G.--

>No they were standard small zipper bags, maybe 1.5"x3" from Walmart.<

If you're talking about the little bags from the craft section, I don't think those are food grade?