When you take cheese out of the refrigerator to use it in a recipe, it can be kept on the counter up to an hour, but put it back as soon as possible. The heat from a warm kitchen will soften the cheese, and the change in texture could make a difference in your recipe.
Mold certainly looks unpleasant, but in some cases it doesn’t spoil the cheese. It doesn’t work its way into hard and semisoft cheeses, so because it’s only on the surface, it can be cut off and not affect the taste. Cut off ¼ to ½ inch of the affected cheese, then use it as soon as possible. Be careful not to get the knife into the mold, as it could spread it.
GRATING AND SHREDDING
These terms are often used interchangeably, but they really are very different depending on how they are used in a recipe. Grated cheese tends to be more like powder, or with very small pieces, and works best with a hard cheese, such as parmesan. When you shred cheese it comes off in long strips, and takes longer to melt. Because of these differences they are used for different reasons. For instance, if you added grated cheddar to chili it would melt more quickly than if it was shredded. For grating you have a choice of many different graters, but an old-fashioned box grater is handy because you can either grate or shred with it. If you’re concerned about skinning your fingers, grate as long as you feel comfortable, and save the small pieces for a snack or cut them up and add to soup, salad, or a sandwich. They will keep well for a short time in the refrigerator. To make cleanup easier, spray the grater with cooking spray before grating the cheese. You can also grate with a food processor or blender, spraying the blades the same as a grater. Cut the cheese into small chunks and pulse in small batches.
Most cheese is easiest to cut when chilled. However, some hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, will be easier to cut if they are brought to room temperature. Round cheeses are to be cut in wedges, like a cake. Tall truckles are easier to serve if sliced horizontally. A “truckle” of cheese refers to a wheel of cheese usually taller than it is wide, and sometimes it has a barrel shape. Truckles vary greatly in size, from the wax-coated cheeses sold in supermarkets, to larger artisanal cheeses.
Heating cheese at a high temperature can make it curdle or separate, and sometimes gives it a leathery kind of texture. If you want to keep cheese warm after it is melted, it’s best to place it over low or indirect heat. If you are broiling foods that have cheese on the top, place it a few inches from the source of heat just long enough to melt it.
WHAT IS THE LIQUID ON THE OUTSIDE OF CHEESE?
If a little liquid forms inside the package, it’s just whey from the cheese, and there’s no need to be concerned. You can wipe it off with a paper towel and enjoy the cheese.