It’s precious stuff.

By Margaret Eby
July 14, 2020
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At this point in the pandemic, groceries are a little easier to find. The bodegas around me have propped bags of flour in the windows, notifying passersby of their bountiful stock, and yeast seems to be easier to come by, too. In New York City, COVID-19 cases have fallen, at least for now, and going to the grocery store no longer gives me the kind of intense anxiety that it did a few months ago. But, still, some pandemic-inspired austerity is never a bad thing, given how little we know about how the fall and winter will look. I still hang on to my garlic and onion skins for stock, and I keep Parmesan rinds and nubs in a resealable bag in the freezer for future soups. Thanks to a tip from an online tasting with Murray’s Cheese, I’ve added another thing that I always hang on to: Cheese paper. 

@kosje / Getty Images

Cheese paper is the waxy paper that cheese gets packaged in when you purchase it from a cheesemonger, or sometimes at the cheese counter in a grocery store. It’s coated with both wax and polyethylene, which forms a barrier that wicks excess moisture away from the cheese while still allowing it to breathe. That keeps your cheese fresh longer, and prevents it from tasting like plastic, an unfortunate side effect that can come from wrapping it in plastic wrap. It also means that unlike wax paper, it allows for the cheese to “breathe.”

You can buy a roll of cheese paper if you’re a person who regularly has a lot of cheese on hand, too. If your cheese came in plastic, transferring it to that wrapper will help its longevity and flavor. But if you have the paper the cheese came in already, just save it. Once your original cheese is eaten, you can rinse the paper thoroughly, blot it dry or air dry it, and put it away for future cheeses. Don’t soak it—it is after all, still paper.

If you don’t have cheese paper and don’t want to buy any, that’s no trouble. You can mimic the effect of cheese paper by first wrapping cheese in a layer of parchment or wax paper, and then putting it in a plastic bag or a resealable food container. But if you find some cheese paper in the course of your grocery life, hold on to it. You never know when it’ll come in handy.