Find answers to our most frequently asked questions.


Is It Safe To Eat Cheese That Has Mold On It?

Sometimes a mold is supposed to be there, like the white fluffy rind on a Brie. That's normal and even edible (it's a matter of preference). However, if you see mold or fuzz on a fresh cheese, like cottage cheese or cream cheese or creme fraiche, toss it. If it is on a firmer cheese, you can just cut it off and eat the rest. It won't hurt you, but it could affect the flavor of cheese.

Should You Eat the Rind?

Eating the rind is a matter of preference. If you want to taste the cheese as the cheesemaker intended, try the inside first. Eating that white, fluffy rind of soft cheeses is just fine. The rind of harder cheeses are not always easy to eat or necessarily pleasant. A suggestion is to save the rinds of hard cheeses and use them to flavor a homemade soup.

Can You Freeze Cheese?

Though there are a few cheeses that can be frozen, it’s usually not a good idea to do so, as freezing tends to change the texture of cheese. Cheese is usually sold at a retail shop expecting the buyer to eat it within two weeks, which is what you should do. That way you're getting the flavor and texture that the cheesemaker intended. The best thing is to only buy as much cheese as you can eat within those two weeks.

How Long Will Cheese Last?

The length of time a cheese can last depends on the variety. In general, the harder the cheese, the longer it will last. Once you have cut into it, or if it’s cut by the cheesemonger, it’s best to eat cheese within two weeks of purchasing it. A whole wheel (uncut) will last much longer. Over time the flavor of cheese may change. If it smells ammoniated or tastes bitter, it's probably time to throw it out. Don't worry, though, a cheese that has "gone off" can't hurt you. It just doesn't taste very good. In general, it’s always best to buy only as much cheese as you can eat within two weeks.

How Do You Store Cheese?

The best way to store cheese is to wrap it in wax or butcher paper, then put it in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper, in a ziplock bag, or a lidded container. Cheese likes to stay in cool, dark places.

Does Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated?

Oh yes, it does. Though it can be left out for several hours without a problem (it ages naturally at between 50 and 60 degrees), the best thing to do is to keep cheese refrigerated until you would like to eat it. Then, for the best flavor, take the cheese out of the refrigerator about an hour before eating. Cheese always tastes best at room temperature.


How Much Cheese Should I Buy For My Party?

Not sure how much cheese to buy for your event? Here are a few loose guidelines: If you're having a small dinner party and cheese is the appetizer, then allow 2 ounces per person. If you're having a bigger party with other food besides cheese, allow 1 ounce per person. If there's no other food besides the cheese, then 4 ounces per person.

Do You Have Any Pairing Suggestions?

Cheese tastes great with so many foods, but here are a few suggestions: crusty bread, crackers, sliced or dried fruit, preserves, roasted almonds, olives and wine or beer. Be creative and enjoy.

What’s The Best Way To Serve Cheese?

Cheese is best eaten at room temperature. Take it out of the refrigerator approximately an hour prior to eating for best flavor.


How is Cheese Made?

The cheesemaker adds cultures (bacteria and molds that come in freeze-dried powders) and coagulants to the milk (which can be from a cow, goat, sheep, water buffalo, yak or a combination) and then cuts, stirs and cooks the curd at different temperatures and times to create a spectacular array of flavors, textures and aromas.


What Are Curds & Whey?

As most of us do when hearing about Little Miss Muffet, we wonder what those curds and whey really are. Here's the scoop: Milk naturally thickens and forms curds when left in a warm place or when a coagulant like rennet is added. Cutting the curds allows them to release water (whey). Eventually the whey is poured off, leaving only curds, which are then formed or pressed into rounds or other shapes and creating cheese. Miss Muffet probably ate a combo of fresh curds and whey. She may have added something sweet or savory or eaten them just plain.

What Does Artisan Cheese Mean?

The definition of “artisan” is rather vague and will change depending on who mentions it. But, in general, it means cheese made in small batches.

What Does Farmstead Mean?

If a cheese is considered farmstead, that means the cheesemaker is making the cheese with milk from his own animals (rather than purchasing milk from elsewhere).


How Can I Visit a Cheesemaker on a Farm or Take a Farm Tour?

Check the Trail Map section of this website. By scrolling on the map to any location in California, you can find nearby cheesemakers (as well as some cheese shops). You can either take a "Driving Tour," where every location is open (be sure to check their hours), or check the list of "Scheduled Tours." Those cheesemakers are either open for regularly scheduled tours or will allow visitors by appointment. Be smart and plan ahead, as scheduled tours often book up a month or two in advance. Some cheesemakers do offer private tours.

Where Can I Take Cheesemaking or Cheese Pairing Classes?

There are several people and places that host cheese pairing classes. The Cheese Parlor in Livermore (in store), Janet Fletcher (virtual), are just two suggestions (there are many more). For cheesemaking classes check Epicurean Connection in town of Sonoma, Achadinha in Petaluma, Copeland Family Farms in Siskyou County and Toluma Farms/Tomales Farmstead in the town of Tomales. For a professional multi-day cheesemaking course check into Cal Poly located in San Luis Obispo.


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