If you find yourself driving through Waharoa on occasion (and we often find an occasion to do so) you will have spotted the Kaimai Cheese Company. If you haven’t stopped in yet, make sure you do. It’s a cheese-lover’s must-do with a wide range of delicious genuinely ‘natural’ cheeses.

The lovely team at Kaimai Cheese have collated a few frequently asked questions with the help of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association. Follow a few simple guidelines and you’ll always enjoy the best from your cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions about Specialty Soft Cheeses

 At what temperature should cheese be served?
Store cheese in the fridge, but serve at room temperature. This is best achieved by cutting off what is required for service each day and bringing only that portion from the fridge.

 The flavour of a warm cheese blooms, whilst cheese served cold lacks flavour and character, just as cold red wine does.

 Make cutting cheese part of general prep to ensure correct serving temperature. It is also easier to portion control accurately during prep as the cheeses are firmer when cold.

When matching wines and cheeses, try to match serving temperatures of the wines and cheeses, and only lightly chill the wines.

 Where is the best place to store specialty cheeses?
Cheese has developed over the centuries, not only to excite palates, but because it is a means of preserving milk. Therefore many styles of cheese, e.g. Feta and Farmhouse Gouda, were developed without the need for refrigeration.

There are three objectives when storing specialty cheeses:

  1. To prevent them drying out
  2. To prevent cross contamination between cheeses and other moulds and yeasts
  3. To preserve and ripen the cheeses.

The paper that is used to wrap whole wheels in is the best way to ripen the cheeses. Once opened, wrap cheeses in clean cling film, taking care to cover the cut surface completely, and loosely covering the rest of the cheese. Change the cling film each time you cut a portion from the whole cheese.

 To prevent the rinds from drying out and to preserve flavour, store the wrapped cheeses in sealed plastic containers using separate containers for blue, white mould and yellow cheeses.

 When is a cheese best (or best before)?
Store all soft cheeses in the fridge unless special cheese cabinets are available. Parmesan and other hard cheeses are easier to cut and use if stored at cool room temperature.

 With the possible exception of ‘fresh cheeses’, there is no magical transformation from safe to unsafe on, or near, the best before date of a well-made and cared for cheese.

In fact, it is very unlikely that such a cheese, from a reputable supplier, will ever become unsafe – according to your taste, it simply becomes inedible.

 Cheese, like wine, is batch made and there are many elements that will influence how quickly each batch will mature. When deciding on a best before date, a very conservative view is taken. Most cheese companies set the best before date on the basis that the cheese will be at, or just over, the ‘peak of maturity’ on that date, and will still satisfy most consumers.

 Therefore a cheese that has ‘expired’ may be perfectly good. When you know and have confidence in the cheese-maker’s judgment, it is simply a matter of taste.

 The Kaimai Cheese factory and Café and Store is centrally located in Waharoa on SH 27, just north of Matamata. http://www.kaimai.co.nz/

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