There is one ingredient that makes my food storage BETTER than my mama’s food storage. Money was tight growing up because my father worked seasonal jobs. This meant during the off-season our meals mostly came from our food storage. We ate a lot of stew during those times. My mother did her best but she only knew so many ways to cook beans, rice, flour, and (canned & garden) veggies. I’m ashamed to say that my sisters, brothers, and I complained insufferably about each and every meal. As I got older, I understood how vital food storage was to my family and I continued the tradition of food storage when I got married. As I’ve embraced the preparedness community, I learned of one secret ingredient I wish my parents had in their food storage. It turns bland food storage staples into delicious meals (7 examples found below). I call it a secret ingredient because many people are not aware it is food storage friendly. In fact, I know many people with food storage but very few that stock up on this ingredient. My secret ingredient is immortal cheese!
According to Clifton Fadiman (1940-1999), ‘Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality’.
Cheese dominates the food industry and sells on a massive scale. Its popularly comes from its great taste, health benefits, and convenience. For these reasons, you’ll find cheese in almost every home in the nation, no matter if you are rich or poor. As Americans, we love our cheese but we know very little about it. For example, most people don’t know that cheese ‘stored properly’ can last for decades which makes it a great food storage item. Cheese has been around for over 4000 years, way before icebox refrigerators were invented.
How Long Will Cheddar Cheese Last?
Hard cheese is the key to its long shelf-life! There are 3 types of cheeses: soft, semi-soft, and hard. Soft cheeses have too much moisture making them unsuitable for long-term food storage. Hard cheese goes through an extensive moisture extraction process so its harder than soft cheese. The lack of moisture allows hard cheese to last longer than other dairy products. When cheese is freeze-dried or dehydrated the moisture is removed which is the secret to its long shelf life. Hard cheese still has a small amount of moisture left. When it is sealed in wax it preserves the freshness and creates a slow aging environment. Cheese wax is designed to eliminate exposure to light & moisture, lessening the chances of it developing mold. It’s typically made out of a mix of paraffin & microcrystalline which helps it come off cheese smoothly. It’s a little more expensive than paraffin but its worth it for its pliability and it can be reused over and over again.
Examples of Soft Cheese
Mexican queso fresco
Examples of Semi-Soft Cheese
Examples of Hard Cheese
A couple of the qualities I look for in great food storage items are its shelf-life and versatility. Hard cheese has these two qualities in spades, which is why cheese is found on every major continent and throughout recorded history. It has an incredibly long shelf-life when it’s been properly preserved.
The big question is how long can you store cheese? Mainstream society would have you believe that sealed cheese will last several months to a year in the fridge. However, you may be shocked to learn that some manufacturers sell cheddar cheese that has been aged 15 – 40 years. It’s still edible but over time it will lose some of its health benefits as enzymes eat away at the protein. This process sharpens the taste of the cheese. It’s amazing to me that there is cheese out there that is older than I am, and that I could use old cheese as cultures to make new cheese. This process can be done over and over again turning it into immortal cheese.
I mostly eat the standard store-bought cheese that’s been aged anywhere from 2 months to 2 years.
|Medium Sharp||12 Months|
|Extra Sharp||18 Months|
|Reserve or Premium||24 Months|
Technology has made adding cheese to my food storage EASY! For example, I have a combination of cheese spread, dehydrated cheese powder, shredded freeze-dried cheese, and regular cheese. The ‘dry’ cheese have expirations dates of 15 – 25 years. However, I don’t know many preppers that put much stock in expirations dates. The regular store-bought cheese I keep in my fridge, freezer (shredded cheese), and pantry (wax-sealed cheese).
If you want to start adding cheese to your food storage, the best thing you can do is to opt for hard cheeses. Some of the best food storage cheeses are Cheddar, Parmesan, Gouda, and Romano. All these cheese types age well and can last years beyond their ‘best-buy’ date. This is another reason they are known as immortal cheese.
Signs Cheese is Bad
Past experience with spoiled dairy products made me skeptical, at first. But I’ve developed the TA-TA formula to help. It’s fairly simple to recognize spoiled food using your senses. To help me evaluate if aged cheese that has been sealed in wax and stored in the pantry is safe to eat I’ll pay close attention to texture, appearance, taste, and aroma.
Texture – It should be dry, smooth, and hard with a slight cushion feel when squeezed.
Appearance – Mold can generally be cut-off hard cheese or wiped off with vinegar and still be safe as long as there are no other signs of spoilage. Be careful of black mold or if the mold is more than surface deep, these can be signs of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Taste – It’s NOT recommended to taste a cheese that is suspected of going bad. When in doubt, throw it out! But just like sour cream, sometimes you can’t always see or smell that it’s spoiled. Only stock up on cheeses that you’re familiar with. That way you can tell if the taste is off.
Aroma – Chedder had a distinct smell. To me, it smells good and makes my mouth water with anticipation. If it has a repugnant odor that’s a definite warning sign to avoid eating.
7 Foods That Cheese Transforms
My siblings and I really enjoyed Mac & Cheese when we were younger. We didn’t get it often because it had to be purchased at the store and was not available in bulk. I have grown out of my Mac & Cheese phase but will always remember that cheese is one of the best and simplest ways to dress up noodles. Here is a list of basic food storage items or recipes that cheese can transform. If the word is highlighted its a link to a recipe.
1. Potatoes – AuGratin Mashed Potatoes
2. Eggs – Omelet
3. Homemade Tortillas – Quesadilla
4. Homemade Tortilla Chips – Nachos
5. Chicken – Cordon Bleu
6. Noodles – Mac & Cheese
7. Homemade Bread – Cheese Sandwich or Grilled Cheese
Tip – By adding white cooking wine & cheese to my food storage, I can make fondue in times of scarcity. Fondue is a cheese sauce that is great for dipping meat, veggies, bread, and just about anything else. It’s a great way to create a fun, simple, delicious meal. Cheese also allow me to turn random ingredients into casseroles.
The Simple Process of Waxing Cheese
Cheese waxing is gaining immense popularity these days. It keeps the taste and content intact and allows you to relish the delicious taste of it whenever you want. If you’re feeling shy about the process, let me reassure you, it is quite simple! All you need is to practice it a few times.
Here are a few steps to preserve cheese using wax.
Infographic Source: CheeseMaking.com
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