I realized that a lot of my plastic containers were from parmesan cheese so I bought a metal cheese grater and I'm going to buy it in hunks from now on, preferably at the counter so I don't get cling wrap and can use my own jar. But storing it is another thing. I found on a cheese website that a good way to store it is by wrapping it in waxed paper and then aluminum foil. I know about aluminum, but it won't be coming in contact with the cheese, and I can keep reusing the foil over and over again and ultimately recycle it.
Wax paper I can definitely do, but I read that some brands are coated with plastic! I can recycle wax paper here in Boston, but I'm thinking about starting up composting and composting the wax paper. So I need to find non-plasticized wax paper. Anybody know about natural wax paper brands?
One possibility: http://www.naturalvalue.com/PDFs/waxedpaper.pdf According to our local Cheeseboard, HARD cheeses can be stored open, on your countertop, as long as the "room temperature's OK", whatever that means (probably not too hot, humid). Old days included an inverted glass bowl.
Another option might be a bowl with a "coozy" cover (see Etsy)
Yet another possibility: beeswax infused hemp/cotton, http://www.abeego.ca/ (I use these for other things)
Also could use latched glass jar without gasket if you want some air flow.
I don't really understand the foil thing. Guess for airtightness, which might be more of an issue with the softer cheeses.
Haven't tried any of these for cheeses, as I keep mine in the paper wrapper from the Cheeseboard, but logically all would work.
From personal experience, I think the parmesan stores well in the fridge without wrapping it in either wax paper or foil. I also buy parmesan cheese in a hunk and grate it as needed. I've been storing it in a Le Parfait jar in the fridge for up to a month without any spoilage or change in flavor (I think it is due to the hermetic seal keeping out moisture and other scents. It also doesn't hurt that the parmesan is rather dry to begin with and keeping it in a hunk reduces the available surface area for spores to grow.) I have also grated a bunch of cheese and stored it in freezer (in the Le Parfait jar) and it still came out okay. Hope this helps.
Update: made one beeswax cover by the "melt wax and dip" method (gave up on the "grate wax and iron between layers of paper and foil" method). I used a whole bandana, but later decided it was too big and trimmed it with pinking shears to the center area. So I think I wasted more wax than necessary, but it was a learning process.
It doesn't cling as tightly as cling wrap, but it works okay for covering bowls. I plan to make a couple more once I get some more wax. Haven't tried it on cheese yet, but considering that cheese is aged in wax, it seems like an appropriate covering.
Bea's post said it is available at drug stores, although I was not successful at CVS, but I didn't ask for help. I finally found it at my local natural foods store in one ounce medallions after asking someone (it was stored in a jar on top of an aisle). Come to think of it, I always have to ask for directions there -- nothing is where I expect it to be... ;)
I found this very helpful in determining how to store my cheeses (a different way for different cheeses) from stainless steel containers to a towel rubber banded over a jar top:
How to store cheese and keep it fresh
The two major obstacles to keeping cheese fresh while you store it are mold and dehydration. Your goal, therefore, as you wrap up your leftover cheese is to control the air flow and humidity conditions of the stored cheese. As a general rule, the harder the cheese the longer you can store it. Hard cheese can keep up to a couple of months. Soft cheese can keep up to a week or two if properly stored. To lengthen the lifespan of your fabulous cheese and keep it fresh, follow these cheese storage guidelines.
Fresh cheeses, like feta or mozzerella, should be eaten quickly as they will not last more than a few days at most. Store fresh cheeses in their original containers in their original liquid if applicable (feta, for instance, is often stored in a salt water brine which is good for it). Keep fresh cheese tightly covered and nice and cold.
Hard cheeses, like parmesan, do not need to breathe (release their own moisture) as most other cheeses do. As such, keep them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refridgerator. Blue cheese, although not in the hard cheese category, can be successfully stored similarly.
Sticky cheeses, like roquefort, should be stored in the refridgerator wrapped in wax paper and then covered over in plastic wrap. This will keep it from sticking to the plastic wrap.
Soft, semi-soft, and semi-hard cheeses, like brie, havarti, or cheddar, should be wrapped in wax paper or a paper towel to give them room to breathe, and then in a plastic container. You may even want to store the cheese in a container which isn't properly sealed to allow some moisture to escape. Alternatively, it may be safer to store the cheese in a sealed container, but be sure to open the container every couple of days to release moisture and ensure the cheese's freshness.
And that brings us to the last couple of pointers to help store your cheese and keep it fresh. One key is to check on your cheese often, say every few days, to see if it seems too dry or too moist, and to scrape off any mold which may appear. Be sure to remove about a 1/2 inch area around the mold.
Furthermore, each time you open the cheese package, change the wax paper or plastic wrap it's covered in. Finally, beware of storing cheeses with strong flavors near cheeses with weaker flavors. And be especially careful of storing weaker flavored cheese in the refrigerator for too long as they can pick up the flavors of the fridge!
"Yet another possibility: beeswax infused hemp/cotton, http://www.abeego.ca/ (I use these for other things)"
...thanks Jay!! I am very excited about these! Far better than the polyurethane laminated polyester (PUL) options out there!
Disappointingly, after enthusiastically having gotten a set and using them for a while, covering bowls/plates, I have found them a bit too awkward. They mold, but don't seal tightly, I'm hesitant to do sharp angles with them and have some issues with sanitation since can't get too hot. Just my 2¢ :-)
I really like the fabric "coozy" coupled with a bowl, though clearly neither airtight nor self-containing.
Got mine from this vender on Etsy
I now use either the coozy, nylon or silk bags from another Etsy vender (like her muslin bags, too), or a jar for cheeses, etc.
Jay, I concur on the wax-coated fabric squares I made -- they really don't seal. Later I discovered and have been using right-side up dinner plates and bread plates to cover bowls in the fridge -- they fit quite well, and the underside has a nice ridge that keeps them from sliding off. Not completely airtight, but cling wrap never was either...