Saturday, March 7, 2015

How I Wax Cheese

There are many different ways people wax cheese. I have tried several of them and this is what works for me.

I have three colors of wax- red, clear, and black. Each color has its own old saute pan that is used exclusively for it. It is way too hard to clean wax out of your pans. Check thrift stores, you don't need anything fancy here.

I slowly heat the wax over low heat on my gas cooktop. Since I do not use a double boiler, I never leave the stove as I am melting my wax and I am continually swirling it and checking the temperature. Cheese wax has a flash point of about 300 degrees. That's nothing I want to mess with.

Heat the wax to just over 200 degrees. Some people go 225-240, but I don't want to risk getting it that hot and have never had trouble with mold growth under the wax at 200 (unless the wax gets punctured).
When the wax reaches about 204-205, turn off the heat. Place your cheeses on a rack over a cookie sheet next to your stove. I allow the cheeses to air dry 2-3 days before waxing them to get a good bond. 

Holding the cheese by the edges, dip one end leaving it in the wax for 10-12 seconds. This gives the heat time to kill any mold spores that may have settled on the cheese surface. Place cheese on the rack wax side up. Pat out any large air bubbles that may have gotten trapped.

While you are allowing the wax to set, check your temperature. If it has dropped below 200, heat it back up. I check the temp between every dip at this stage. 

Now repeat the 10 second dip with the other side of the cheese. Take care not to dent the wax as you set it back on the rack to firm up. 

Dip each end a second time. This time you do not have to hold it in for 10 seconds, just dip and remove. Let me add here, keep a good grip on your cheese. It is a huge mess when you accidentally drop one into the pan and splatter wax all over yourself and the kitchen. Trust me.

Check your temperature again and allow each end to firm up. At this point you are going to hold the cheese by the ends and roll the edge in the wax. If it's not firm enough, you will leave fingerprints in the new wax. 

Slowly roll the edges in wax. Remember, you are trying to kill mold spores here, so go slowly. Allow the wax to cool and repeat, moving more quickly with the second coating. Let the wax on the cheeses firm up. 

As you can see in the picture above, even with two coats on the cheese, the wax is still a bit transparent. I like a nice, even solid color on the cheese. Without reheating the wax, roll the sides again and let set. Then dip top and bottom again. The cooler temperature will allow more wax to stick with each coat now. 

You can rewarm the wax a bit if it starts to solidify, but it should remain melted for you to finish coating your cheeses. Continue dipping and rolling until you are satisfied with the look of your cheese. Touch up any places the wax looks thin or damaged.

 Now the cheeses are dated and put in the cave for aging. When you are flipping them as they age, check the wax for damage. Damaged areas can be cut off and redipped before mold has time to set in.