- Dan Bliss, retail manager at Paxton & Whitfield’s Jermyn Street shop in London, shares her must-follow methods for cheese cutting and storage
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● Use sharp knives to cut cheese, as this leaves a much more attractive cut
● Use a separate board to cut blue cheeses, to avoid cross-contamination
● If a customer is looking for a small piece of cheese it’s best to cut it from a large piece, rather than to split a small piece in two. Every piece needs to look attractive and as soon as a piece is too small it starts drying out and looks unappealing
● When storing, always separate blue cheeses from others to avoid cross contamination – we have a separate counter for blue cheeses
● In your back of house cellar, I’d recommend that you turn all your cheeses at least every week. You may want to turn younger, fresher cheeses more often to ensure there is a consistent spread of moisture and to avoid a ‘soggy bottom’
● Wrap your cheese when it’s on display. Ideally, we’d wrap all our cheese in waxed paper when it’s out on display, as wax paper is best for keeping the cheese fresh, but it doesn’t lead to an attractive display.
We compromise by wrapping cheeses in our display in cling film. It’s wrapped closely around the cut face of the cheese, leaving no air bubbles, so customers can see the quality of the cheese. To ensure that the moisture inside the cheese is regulated we change the cling film every time we cut from the cheese, and at a minimum every two days
● Cut cheese that isn’t ripe and ready to cut. Once cut, it makes maturing a cheese more difficult
● Cut hard cheeses and soft cheeses with the same knife and board. Always use fresh equipment or clean your equipment in between cutting these styles of cheese. This will prevent contamination from cheese mites that have been used to mature some hard cheeses getting onto the rind of soft cheeses
● Forget to keep a sales record for your cheese counter. This is really important in helping you keep track on sales of various cheese styles you sell, but in the long term it can help you with your planning and ordering so you have the right levels of cheese at the right time
● Forget that some cheeses will have different reactions when displayed on a counter. Some of the open-textured, crumbly cheeses are prone to blueing when on display, so if you want to stock these look at buying smaller versions so you can sell them quicker
● Don’t forget to inspect each cheese on display on a daily basis. Are there any dry edges to cut off? Does the cling film need to be changed? The daily check also enables you to check dates on all your cheeses, and take action early to push through cheeses that are heading towards their BBE dates, and enables you to check that all your labels are in place – it’s amazing how many cheese labels disappear during the day!