The Best Way To Store Cheese, According To Alex Guarnaschelli

If anyone knows dairy, it's Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Not only is her acclaimed New York City restaurant called Butter, but she also makes plenty of homemade butter with a surprising ingredient: sour cream. (Although, in 2011, per Eater, she did serve as a spokesperson for the butter replacement I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!)

Guarnaschelli also holds some surprisingly controversial cheese opinions, including a professed love of sliced American cheese. "Why do people have to get upset that American cheese is awesome?" she asked on Twitter in 2019. She doubled down in 2021, saying "American cheese is sacred and delicious." Since then, the Iron Chef has continued to dispense cheese advice on social media. In response to a recent question on Twitter, Guarnaschelli revealed her preferred method of storing cheese. "Unfortunately plastic [is] the best way to protect it from drying out and absorbing other aromas in the fridge," she wrote.

Cheese experts don't completely agree with Guarnaschelli's advice

Ask a cheesemonger, and they'll probably tell you that a tight plastic wrapping is one of the worst things you can put around cheese. "Plastic wrap is by design a full barrier, and cheese needs air and humidity to breathe," Joey Wells, a global specialty cheese coordinator at Whole Foods Market, told Eat This, Not That. Plus, as cheese ages, microorganisms on the rind are hard at work and naturally release ammonia as a waste byproduct — but when cheeses are suffocated, these compounds can't be released, and your cheese will begin to smell and taste like floor cleaner. 

So, if plastic wrap is the wrong way to store cheese, how do cheese experts recommend you store cheese at home? Many specialty cheese shops use cheese paper, which is porous but still helps retain moisture so cheeses don't dry out in your fridge (via The Kitchn). If you don't have cheese paper at home, parchment paper will work, too. 

But Guarnaschelli's advice is not completely wrong: After you've neatly wrapped your wedge like a holiday gift, Food52 recommends setting it inside a loose plastic container or unsealed plastic bag to further help retain moisture. And as for odors, pay attention to which cheeses you're storing near one another, as milder cheeses can absorb stronger flavors (like those of blue cheeses) or even refrigerator flavor itself.