Why You Shouldn't Store Cheese In Plastic Wrap

It should come as no surprise that cheese is a hot commodity in the United States, which was the second highest producer of cheese in 2021, manufacturing over 6 million metric tons (second only to the European Union's 10 million), according to Statista. After all, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, macaroni and cheese is the most popular cheese recipe in all of the U.S., and Dairy Industries International says that in 2020, the U.S. consumed 24% of the world's cheese, the most of any single country.

While it may seem that consuming so much cheese is just decadent, the reality is that this creamy, dairy deliciousness actually packs a punch of nutrients. According to Healthline, there are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as well as B12 and vitamin A, among other needed essentials, that cheese brings to the table.

So with such an abundance of benefits, and such a plethora of the likes of Parmesan and pecorino at our fingertips, what could cause a conundrum when it comes to cheese? As it turns out, poor cheese storage ⁠— specifically wrapping cheese in plastic wrap ⁠— can be a problem.

What plastic wrap does to cheese

According to Southern Living, wrapping cheese in plastic can cause moisture to be sealed in (leading to mold); further, plastic can create unwanted flavors, which cheese is apt to absorb. Funky cheese is good when it's sporting the funk that the cheese came with, but creating new funk is a no-no.

Instead, Cook's Illustrated recommends using parchment or wax paper (or even paper specifically made for wrapping cheese, per Southern Living), combined with a second loosely wrapped layer of aluminum foil. The magazine explains this double-wrapping achieves two things: the paper absorbs excess moisture, while the foil keeps enough moisture from completely escaping so the cheese doesn't run the risk of drying out. Only using plastic wrap, on the other hand, would again trap too much moisture with the cheese and accelerate the molding process.

Emphatically, Kitchn also warns against opting for plastic wrap when storing cheese, noting that using it is basically suffocating the cheese. Who wants to be the accused perpetrator of that crime? However, the site does note that once cheese is wrapped in appropriate paper, storing cheese in loose plastic wrap or a bag is acceptable. Doing so, in fact, is similar in method to Cook's Illustrated's foil recommendation, as the plastic in this setup helps keep enough moisture with the cheese to avoid dried-out cheese.

The bottom line is, if you want to avoid crimes against cheese, be sure to stay away from plastic as your primary tool for cheese storage — stick with paper instead.