Wax can be used as a sealant for a variety of items and is a useful practical method many preppers use. One of the most common ways preppers use wax is to seal and protect a wheel or block of cheese. To wax the cheese you will need:
- Hard DRY RIND varieties of cheeses
- Natural Bristle Brush
- Double boiler pan
- Red cheese wax (formulated specifically for coating cheese and is available from cheese making suppliers)
- Wax paper
- Labeling supplies
Although the process does not take a long time to do it is important to have all your supplies ready and within reach. Before you begin, decide on whether you want to brush the melted wax over your cheese or if you want to dip your cheese wedges or wheels directly into the melted wax. Both ways work equally well in my opinion but I have discovered you need more cheese wax if you opt for the dipping method because you need enough melted wax in your pan at a depth of at least two or three inches to thoroughly cover a portion of the cheese.
Begin by melting wax in a double-boiler. Clean up is messy so use a pan you can live without or use a metal coffee can for the melted wax. The upside of using a coffee can is easy clean up; the downside is the size of the mouth of the can makes it difficult to dip larger chunks of cheese.
Dip ¼ to ½ of the block of cheese into the melted wax. Use extreme caution and a good gripping set of tongs to dip the cheese. Remember the wax will be extremely hot and will burn you. If prefer to brush the wax on, grip a portion of the block and carefully brush hot melted wax over the other portion of the cheese block.
Apply thin coats of wax to the cheese allowing 30 to 45 seconds of air drying time between coats, usually I just hold the block of cheese over the pan until it sets up and then proceed with the dipping process. Keep block of cheese over double boiler pan while you are working on the cheese to allow excess wax to drip back into the pan. Three or four coats of wax usually are sufficient to provide proper coverage. After you have covered the entire wedge or wheel of cheese (either dipped or brushed) allow hardening on a piece of wax paper for a couple of hours.
Once the wax has hardened label the cheese with a marker or piece of masking tape. Be sure and include the type of cheese and date you waxed it. You can then store you waxed cheese at room temperature in a dark area.
You may have a concern on whether or not covering hard cheeses with a good coating of wax is safe because of bacteria which could grow on the cheese. In my opinion, it depends on the type of cheese used and how long you store it before using it. Most of the cheese I have stored using this method is consumed within three to six months after waxing and I have never experienced any issues or had to throw out any cheese. Of course, anytime you choose to extend the shelf life of any type of food there is always the chance of bacteria or organisms forming on the food so do your research and make an informed decision on which method best suits your needs.
Have you ever waxed cheese? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comment section.