Aged cheeses are cheeses that undergo brining, ripening and aging, which usually lasts between 30 days and six months.
Except for Parmigiano Reggiano, which merits its own category, Italian aged cheeses include Pecorino, Scamorza, Caciocavallo, Fontina, Taleggio, and Provolone. Like France, Italy produces many of the best aged cheeses in the world.
Each cheese is distinct in terms of how it is made and its color, aroma, flavor and consistency. That said, here are some guidelines to follow for all types of aged cheeses.
Changes in temperature can not only harm the aroma, flavor and consistency of cheese, but can also cause harmful microorganisms to develop. It is therefore advised that after you purchase cheese, to store it properly as soon as possible. Once stored properly, it should be left untouched until time of serving.
The common home refrigerator is an excellent place to store cheese.
It is a good idea to keep the original wrapping for every cheese you buy. If you buy a chunk or slice of cheese, if should be wrapped in plastic wrap or waxed paper. The wrapping should stick well to the exposed part of the cheese in order to keep it humid and prevent oxidation. In addition, wrapping your cheese will keep the cheese from causing other foods to smell bad.
Alternatively, you can wrap the cheeses not come in contact with unwashed vegetables or legumes because the potential of bacteria being passed from the vegetables to the cheese.
How to store
It is best to store fresh cheeses in the coldest areas of the refrigerator (35-40°F) and aged cheeses made with pasteurized milk in warmer areas (around 50°F). All other types of cheeses should be stored between 43 and 48°F.
Cheese should never be frozen because eventual defrosting will alter the consistency, flavor and odor.
How to serve
Keep in mind that in order for cheese to express its full potential in terms of taste, flavor and texture, it should be served around 60°F. It is therefore recommended that you keep the cheese at room temperature well before serving.
It is also important that the temperature of the cheese does not exceed 68°F, especially those made with semi-pasteurized milk (like Pecorino Toscano, for example) which tend to develop an unpleasant, greasy film on any exposed part of the cheese. Finally, cheese should never be frozen because the thawing process alters the structure of the cheese and can potentially affect its smell and flavor.