It is important to use cheese wax. Paraffin wax does not work; it is stiff and will crack when it cools which allows air in, causing mold. Cheese wax is formulated to be more pliable and will not crack as easily.
Cheese wax melts at lower temperatures and should be melted in a double boiler. Use an old pot since the wax is difficult to remove. Treat wax as you would chocolate, melt it slowly, on low heat just until it begins to melt. Remove from heat and stir. The hotter the wax and more chance it will pull the oils from the cheese and not form a good seal.
Do not over handle the cheese with your bare hands. The oils from our hands can compromise the seal between the cheese and the wax. You also do not want to introduce any unwanted bacteria. Purchase some food grade disposable gloves from your local store.
Any cheese that is firm enough to form a block can be waxed. The cheese should be cool, clean, and dry. Dry blocks of cheese with a high-quality paper towel before dipping them to soak up any excess moisture or oil. Cut the cheese into sizes that your family will use within a few days.
The wax should form a bond with the cheese, hermetically sealing the cheese including any holes or crevices. This process protects the cheese from mold spores and unwanted fungal invasions. It also locks the natural moisture of the cheese in, preventing it from drying out and hardening.
Although you will find that cheese wax is expensive, it can be reused. Simply peel the wax off the cheese being used and wash it in warm soapy water. Allow the wax to dry and store it to be used in your next cheese waxing session. You will need approximately three pounds of wax to cover ten pounds of cheese.
When you are not using your waxed cheese store it covered to keep it dust free. It can be stored on the shelf for years but it will become stronger in taste. After you remove the wax from cheese you can re-melt and reuse it.
Now you are ready to begin.
1. Melt wax.
2. When the wax has melted and come to temperature turn off the heat.
3. Put on your gloves.
4. Dry the block of cheese you will be waxing with a high-quality paper towel or lint free cloth. Flour sack cloths work well.
5. Quickly dip the block of cheese halfway into the wax. Allow the wax to dry slightly and dip the other half of the block. You may also use a natural bristle brush to coat the cheese. If you decide to use the brush method, a boar’s hairbrush is recommended for the smoothest application.
6. Allow the wax to cool before you set it on any surface otherwise it will stick. When you try to move the cheese it will pull away from the block just waxed. Try setting finished blocks on the paper side of freezer paper which has a paper side and a waxed side.
7. Repeat the waxing process so that there is a minimum of three layers of wax. It is best to apply the second and third layers of wax while the previous layer is still slightly warm. You may choose to apply a fourth layer of wax for added strength.
8. Label the cheese, type and date, before the last dipping so that the label is embedded within the wax and will not fall off. Try using a self-adhesive sticker and a permanent marker.
9. After the cheese has completely hardened it should be stored in your coolest room stacked with like cheeses. Do not seal the cheese in additional containers as the cheese requires air circulation.
10. The cheese will continue to age over time, especially cheddar, so start with more mild cheeses.