Cheese is a popular food item used to prepare many meals in restaurants like burgers, pizza, and pasta. Restaurant owners often buy them in bulk to meet customer demands. However, there are times when several blocks of cheese stay too long in storage and grow stale. This causes wastage and can make the affected restaurant lose money. Food outlets need effective ways to store their cheese so they last as long as possible.
Before preserving cheese, restaurant owners have to ensure they are free of impurities. They can do this by scanning the blocks of cheese they procure through the x-ray inspection system produced by TDI Packsys. The cheese block x-ray inspection system uses x-rays to check for contaminants like metals, glass, and stone. The equipment also detects structural defects in blocks of cheese, so they can be used first while the more intact blocks are preserved.
There are several ways to preserve cheese. The ideal method for each block of cheese depends on its type and texture. Restaurants must keep their cheese in specific containers, but some types can be safely wrapped in clingfilm or cheese paper. Cheese with low moisture content lasts longer than those with more moisture. This is because bacteria thrive in food items that have significant water content.
Hard cheeses like parmesan are low on moisture, so they can be wrapped in clingfilm. Clingfilm keeps air from freely touching the cheese, thus preventing it from drying out. On the other hand, soft cheeses (cheese with high moisture content) need to breathe, so they should be wrapped in waxed cheese paper and baking parchment before being placed in a plastic container. This paper allows air to flow through the cheese so it does not sweat. If blocks of soft cheeses are not exposed to air, they will release ammonia, which ruins the flavor.
All types of cheese should be exposed to cool air and some level of humidity to keep them fresh. Traditionally, cheese was stored in dark and damp stone barns. This created a naturally cool environment that can be replicated today by products like the cheese grotto.
Restaurant staff need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when storing their cheese. Cheese manufacturers always indicate the date their product is best consumed by, and the condition in which they should be kept.
Some restaurant owners store their blocks of cheese in a fridge because it keeps them at a stable cold temperature for an extended period. Subjecting cheese to this condition will restrict bacterial growth and keep it fresh. It helps to keep cheese at the back of the fridge because the temperature conditions are more consistent, unlike the section by the door. The constant opening of the fridge door will make the temperature in that area uneven.
Manufacturers package different types of cheese in distinct ways. Some are vacuum-sealed, wrapped in liquid, placed in tubs with foil seals, or covered with waxed paper. The package for each cheese is carefully selected to ensure they retain their freshness for as long as possible.
Freezing cheese prevents waste, something successful restaurants avoid, and prolongs its shelf-life, However, this can affect its texture and flavor. Soft cheese can form ice crystals and lose moisture when frozen, so it is not a good idea. When cheese loses its moisture, it becomes dry, hard, and unappealing. Hard cheese fare better under freezing conditions, but they have to be melted or cooked once they leave the freezer.
It is recommended that restaurants only freeze their cheese unless they want to grate them for a recipe. Grating before freezing is much easier than doing so after freezing. To preserve cheese in a freezer, they must first wrap it in baking parchment or cheese paper before putting it in an airtight container. Restaurants should use their frozen cheese within six months because it loses quality beyond that.
The time restaurants can keep their cheese fresh depends on its type. Cheese with relatively high moisture content loses its freshness faster than others. Soft cheeses like gorgonzola or mozzarella can only last two weeks in the fridge before they spoil.
Medium-hard cheeses can only be preserved in a refrigerator for three weeks. Hard cheeses, like cheddar and parmesan, can stay in the fridge unopened for up to four months. However, they must be consumed within six weeks after opening.
Restaurants use cheese to prepare various meals, so they stock many blocks of cheese. Cheese has a short shelf life and is best stored in a fridge, but tastes best at room temperature. When buying cheese in bulk, it is best to verify its purity, structural integrity and packaging quality because they determine how long the stock will last. They can do this with the cheese block x-ray inspection system from TDI Packsys.