By Katherine Sacks. Photo by: Chelsea Kyle.
Enter the Cheese Grotto, a wooden box that, like those produce bags you see on infomercials, aims to store cheese fresh for shockingly long periods of time. After working in cheese shops and making cheese for several years, founder Jessica Sennett created the Grotto while studying design at The New School in New York City. And according to her, the lifespan of your cheeses can double, or even triple, once they take up residence in the Grotto. "If you have the right conditions," explains Sennett, "most cheeses can last a lot longer than what people are used to."
And by longer, Sennett is talking months longer. She says that hard cheeses stored refrigerated in her grotto can last up to 12 months instead of the normal month; softer cheese like brie or triple creams will last a month, rather than the typical week.
How's that possible? Sennett designed the box to create the ideal preservation environment, using a clay brick soaked in water to maintain the optimal level of humidity for keeping cheese fresh. Ventilated sides and a vaulted top control condensation and promote airflow. You don't even need to wrap the cheese, since its moisture content is preserved by the Grotto.
Plus, the two-tiered box is super sleek. Made out of sustainable bamboo, it works equally well as an elaborate serving piece. "It's definitely kind of like a shrine to cheese," says Sennett. "It has the flexibility to be used as both a preserving tool, or a presentation piece. " Bring the grotto out to the dining table for a cheese course, pulling the two shelves out to serve your stored cheeses directly from. Or create a cheese board on the the shelves, layering sliced cheeses, fruits, and breads on the slates in an impressive spread.
But, if the Cheese Grotto isn't in your future (it does cost $350, after all), you can also mimic the humidity technique process to store cheese at home. "It’s really about having this balance of humidity and air flow so that the cheese stays fresh and can dry out," Sennett explains. She suggests placing the cheese, along with a damp, brand-new sponge and small cup of salt, in a large resealable container with a few holes cut into the lid (yes, you will need to sacrifice a piece of Tupperware to the Cheese Gods. "This will give a certain level of breathability and the salt will help absorb any of the excess moisture from the sponge,"she says.
And while keeping a block of Parmigiano around for six months seems extreme, I'm pumped to try out the Grotto and stop tossing my beloved aged Gouda after it turns to an orange rock after spending a little too long in the fridge. Long live the cheese!
This story originally appeared on Epicurious.
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