Aged cheeses are cheeses that undergo brining, ripening and aging, which usually lasts between 30 days and six months (or more). Except for Parmigiano-Reggiano, which merits its own category, Italian aged cheeses include Pecorino, Scamorza, Caciocavallo, Fontina, Taleggio, and Provolone. Like France, Italy produces many of the best aged-cheeses in the world. Each cheese is distinct in terms of how it is made and its color, aroma, flavor and consistency.
That said, here are some guidelines to follow for all types of aged cheeses.
Proper storage of a cheese generally depends on a good mix of temperature and humidity, provided by a pantry or refrigerator. In general, hard and aged cheeses can be stored for longer periods of time than fresh and semi-aged ones.
Aged cheeses should be kept in fresh, dark cellars with a temperature around 50°F (10°C) and about 70% humidity. If you have a whole wheel of cheese, you can also wrap it in a damp cloth and place it on the top shelf of your refrigerator. If the wheel has already been sliced, the cheese will tend to oxidize and slowly begin to turn brown. The fats also change, affecting the quality of the flavor. It is therefore best to small slices of cheese that can be consumed in one week so that you can enjoy it at its best.
If the cheese is pre-packaged, it is best not to remove it from its original packaging before consumption. If it is impossible to consume the product within a few days, it is best to vacuum pack the cheese so that it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months. If you do not have the possibility to vacuum pack the cheese, be sure to store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, first wrapping it plastic wrap so that it is not on contact with the air and doesn’t get moldy. Do not wrap it too tightly, or else the rind will not have room to breath. Consider placing the wrapped cheese in a container inside the fridge to keep the odors from spreading, contaminating other fresh foods and cheeses. Never freeze cheese because it damages its structure and quality.