What Is Cheese Wax
As the name suggests Cheese Wax means a kind of wax used for cheese. But don’t confuse it with an ordinary wax. This is a special type of wax which is made for coating cheeses.
To make it more clear, Cheese Wax is nothing but the red or black coating that you see on the cheeses, especially Dutch cheese like Edam or Gouda. Sometimes, you also get to see wedges of cheese with red or black coating at some upmarket stores.
Now you must be wondering what it is made of, whether it is safe or not to purchase a cheese with a wax coating. Well, Cheese Wax is made of paraffin, microcrystalline wax and food coloring—which imparts it the red or black color.
Purpose of using Cheese Wax
Well the reason Cheese Wax is applied onto the cheeses is that there are some cheese like Cheddar, which require ‘ageing’. That means they are left for a longer period of time, say several months, so that they can develop more flavor. Now when the cheese is left for ageing, it is bound to lose moisture and attract moulds.
This wax is applied on the cheese to serve many useful purposes. Though moulds are good and are added to cheese to produce a blue cheese, but that is done in a controlled manner, whereas the mould which grows on the cheese under above mentioned circumstances is nothing less of a fungal invasion. So, to protect the cheese from the invasion of such fungus like mould, and to prevent the loss of moisture from the cheese, manufacturers use Cheese Wax.
How to apply?
The wax is either applied on the cheese by either brushing it on the cheese or just directly dipping the cheese into a bowl of molten wax. This way the wax surrounds the cheese properly, leaving out no space or air pockets from where mould can grow.
Cheese Wax and waxed cheese are both easily available in market, but still if you want, you can make your own Cheese Wax at home to coat your cheeses. You can start by melting paraffin wax, wax from an unscented candle or even children’s wax crayons. Once it is melted, just use a brush to coat it generously all over the cheese. Now all you have to do is to let it harden.
Though you can make Cheese Wax at home, but the drawback of using candle wax is that it becomes brittle on hardening and may break easily, exposing the cheese as a result. So it is advisable to use commercially manufactured Cheese Wax which is more flexible.
Ideally you should be able to coat around 12-20 cheeses with a pound of wax, if you are applying the Cheese Wax using a paintbrush. But if you are using the other method, that of dipping the cheese into the wax, then it will take around 5 pounds of wax to coat the cheeses.
And now since you know what exactly Cheese Wax is, I don’t think I need to remind you that it is not edible and hence make sure to remove the wax coating before using a cheese.
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