Five cheeses you should have in your fridge

Annabel Smith
Haloumi and pomegranate salad.
Haloumi and pomegranate salad. Photo: William Meppem

You've probably got a slab of cheddar in your cheese drawer, but what else should you keep on hand?

Cheese is a simple addition that can make a meal – whether it's shaved over pasta, tossed through a salad or bubbling over that comfort food classic, cheese on toast. 

Olivia Sutton, of Melbourne's Harper & Blohm cheese shop, shares five cheese varieties that are on high rotation in her fridge.

Parmesan plus pasta equals dinner sorted.
Parmesan plus pasta equals dinner sorted. Photo: Melissa Adams

1. Parmesan

Quality parmigiano reggiano​ is Sutton's table cheese. "You can put it on everything, I have it on spaghetti when there's nothing in the fridge, with olive oil and salt and pepper."

Tip: Don't throw away the tough rind. Save it in the freezer and use it to flavour soups and bolognese or cheese sauces.

Buy it: Sutton prefers G. Cravero parmigiano reggiano​ because the milk comes from a single Italian dairy, guaranteeing consistency.

Feta in brine can keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
Feta in brine can keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Store it: Sutton recommends wrapping a wedge of parmesan in foil.

Use it:

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2. Feta

Sutton keeps a tub of feta in brine on standby. She slices small pieces to use as required in a Greek salad, frittata or savoury tarts, before returning the cheese hunk to the brine.

Buy it: Sutton looks for barrel-aged feta, which is matured using an ancient cheesemaking method. You could also keep a jar of feta in oil on standby.

Use it: Provenance restaurant chef Michael Ryan introduced Sutton to baked feta, which she serves to vegetarian friends. Simply drizzle a slab of cheese with olive oil, scatter with woody herbs (oregano, thyme) and bake.

3. Goat's cheese

Sutton always has a small portion of plain goat's cheese on hand. The unopened chevre generally has a long expiry date, and is an easy addition to pasta, salad, avocado on toast or an omelette.

Buy it: Yarra Valley Dairy's adorably named "Gentle Goat" is a current favourite. Chevre with ash or herb coatings are also available.

Use it:

4. Haloumi

A blister pack of the squeaky cheese is another fridge staple. While the cheese is popular grilled – Sutton serves hers with rocket and lemon juice, or fig paste – it's also great grated.  "You can use it grated in lots of things that you'd normally use grated mozzarella for," she says. For example, she suggests adding it into zucchini fritters or a tart. Thick haloumi slices also work well as a burger patty substitute or in a toastie.

Tip: Rinse the haloumi and pat dry before using, as the brine can be overly salty.

Buy it: Sutton likes Aphrodite haloumi, sourced in Cyprus by her mentor Will Studd (a traditional blend of sheep and goat's milks); local favourites include Drysdale Cheeses (goat's milk) and Island Pure Kangaroo Island (sheep's milk).

Use it:

5. Buffalo curds (yoghurt)

Sutton discovered buffalo milk curds on a Sri Lankan holiday. The porcelain-white curds are high in protein, have a thick layer of cream on top and are similar to Greek-style yoghurt. Sutton eats them with granola for breakfast or with maple syrup for dessert; Sri Lankans traditionally serve the curds with treacle.

Buy it: Curds are available from Victoria's Shaw River Buffalo Cheese (labelled as buffalo milk yoghurt).

Use it: The creamy curds can be used to make labna (hung yoghurt) and dips, or dolloped onto curries.

A note on cheese storage

"Cling film is the enemy," Sutton says. Instead, wrap cheese portions in wax paper or baking paper to allow the cheese to breathe.

Sutton stores her cheese in a plastic container at the base of the fridge. Look for a container with a plastic grate at the base and a button on the lid that allows air inside. Place a damp cloth underneath the grate to stop the cheese from drying out. If possible, place the container inside the vegetable crisper where it's more humid.

However, when it comes to brie, camembert and other soft cheeses, Sutton's mantra is "buy small portions, more often".

According to cheese expert Olivia Sutton, owner of Melbourne's Harper & Blohm cheese shop, 80 Primrose Street, Essendon, harperandblohm.com