The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

September 1, 2009

Cheese Crazy (Plastic-free!)

I can has a 12-pound block of cheese?

Um… yeah. I was dying for cheese and went just a little nutty. I discovered that Perenzin San Pietro is coated with natural beeswax instead of paraffin (a petroleum product) and that The Pasta Shop near my house carries it. Of course, The Pasta Shop cuts it up into smaller pieces and seals them in plastic wrap. And if I were to ask to have some cut separately for me and put into my container, they would still have to cut and wrap the rest of the wheel in plastic.

So I ordered and bought the whole thing plastic-free.

What I didn’t realize was that Perenzin San Pietro is a hard cheese. Very hard. Like parmesan. It’s hard to cut. It must be grated. A little goes a very long way.

So, how does one keep a 12-pound block of cheese fresh once cut? With olive oil!

1) Rub the cut face of the cheese with olive, canola, or other vegetable oil.
2) Store cheese in the refrigerator.  Since this cheese is covered with wax, I just have it wrapped in a tea towel directly on the refrigerator shelf.
3) If mold starts to form, it will consume the oil and not the cheese; simply wipe it off, or rinse in tepid water. Dry, rub with fresh oil and store as above. (So far, no mold, and I’ve had this cheese for two months.)

The nice thing about the hardness and sharpness of this cheese is that a little goes a long way. And since eating it requires work (cutting and grating) I am much less likely to mindlessly munch.

Still, I think I’ll look into smaller wheels of waxed, plastic-free cheese next time. Or maybe I’ll share some of this with friends. Live near me in the Bay Area? Want some plastic-free cheese? Let me know. My only requirement is that you bring your own container. Oh, and some $$. This stuff is not cheap. (Like I said, I went just a little nutty.)

To what extremes have you gone to avoid plastic?

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13 years ago

Hi Beth,

This is an older post, so I hope you see my questions (and I hope they’re not too silly) – when you cut off a piece of cheese to eat or cook with, do you wash the oil off of it before eating? And can you store smaller blocks of cheese like this, too – the kind that come shrink wrapped in plastic from the store? (I know that the point is to avoid the shrink-wrapped cheeses entirely, but until I find a source for cheese with no plastic, I was just wondered if I could store regular cheese this way.)


13 years ago

Oh my goodness! Beth! Two months???? That is amazing!

Once again, THANK YOU!

Again, your perseverance has inspired me, this time to keep searching for a good plastic-free cheese supply, AND you’ve taught me to preserve the cheese once I buy it. Amazing.

You rock!

14 years ago

Hi Beth – I haven't gone to any extremes, as such, but we declared our home plastic wrap free about a year ago, and haven't looked back.

Since then, I haven't used the stuff, and we don't miss it at all. In fact, now I wonder why anyone would buy such rubbish!

We've also declared our home BPA-free. I sold my Tupperware Rock N Serves (made from BPA plastic) secondhand (they were too expensive to just throw away), tossed out everything else (our council does not recycle these plastics), and have declared a vendetta against this type of plastic in all its forms. We won't accept it in any shape or form, and will return gifts made of it.

Not extreme, but a start.

Lisa Sharp
14 years ago

You can also grate some and freeze it in amounts you will use for a serving. That's what I do. (I'm very allergic to mold so I won't do the cut away the mold thing hehe)

14 years ago

I found a local dairy farmer that was willing to take my antique milking jug (metal), and fill it instead of her usual plastic containers.

Next, I learned how to make yogurt out of that milk—-and then a type of cream cheese out of that yogurt. So—slowly, I'm getting my dairy containers down to what I am re-using.

I also learned how to make yogurt out of powdered milk—which comes in a cardboard box, and that box composts so very well in my garden. (:

14 years ago

I am impressed by that wheel.

Download Music
14 years ago

awesome idea!!!…although i dont think ive ever owned 12lbs of cheese at once. I will have to try that with the cheese i have on hand

Anarres Natural Health
14 years ago

Extremes every day…

On sailing holidays, we went out to dinner (once in 10 days – we're the broke sort!)at a pub.

We ordered two dinners, nachos and french fries for 2 adults, 1 kid. The quantity of food was mind blowing. So we needed to take away the whole basket of fries. But how? We asked for a box. No go, just styrofoam. So I used the two papers underneath to bundle it by tie-ing each one up across opposite corners like a kerchief. Then I bagged it in an Anarres Chico bag of mine.

So tied in paper! That's my recent antiplasticfreakshow success!

14 years ago

I would buy a portion of your cheese wheel.

14 years ago

LOL 12 pounds of cheese? The only extremes I have gone too are voting wiht my dollars- I search out restaurants and such that do take out without plastic. And I don't shop at certain food stores that won't let me bring in my own containers for take out. So far I can't by natural pet food, as she doesn't get it, but I can buy Aussie meat pies (paper) andDelicous Philly Cheese steak (paper and foil). And of all places my Safeway deli uses paper bags and cardboard containers for their offerings!

mother earth aka karen hanrahan
14 years ago

you must be in cheese heaven

14 years ago

I'll buy some, will bring my own container. U tell me when.

14 years ago

I have finally found a blue cheese that I like that comes in a foil wrapped wheel. That will be my munching cheese.

I also found this really hard cheese that is like Parmesan "Sol Grande Queso". The problem is that it is so hard that when I try to grate it, bits and pieces fly off into the kitchen. I kid you not. It tastes good though so I will likely get a wheel.

Lets not discuss the price of these cheeses and how much a wheel is likely to cost. We both don't want to know.

But… I decided to actually do this because of a post you did some weeks ago.