Is a Cheese Grotto the Ultimate Gift for a Cheese Lover?
Having worked in the cheese world for 13 years, Jessica Sennett knew something was missing. "Customers would purchase high-end cheeses but didn't have the right conditions to store them," she recalls. "As a result, the product would dry out or overproduce mold." So, drawing on her knowledge of cheese caves, she began to develop the Cheese Grotto. Sennett thinks of it as a storage tool for people wanting to enjoy specialty cheeses (any artisan variety that's gone through a fermentation process) for the maximum amount of time. She launched the product in November 2016.
How Does It Work?
Inside the wooden box, which comes in a variety of sizes, there's a humidifying clay brick. The clay brick gets submerged in water for two minutes, then inserted into the box, where it manages to increase the humidity inside the box to 70 percent. Once the unwrapped cheese is added, the humidity rises to 85 percent, creating an ideal microclimate for maturing—but not over-ripening—the product. "The Cheese Grotto slows the breakdown of the cheese because moisture isn't trapped inside it," explains Sennett. The grottos come with removable trays which hold the cheeses and then can be slid out for serving (and written on with chalk for explaining the varieties while entertaining). Many varieties of cheese can be stored together in the grotto about an inch apart and, Sennett mentions, some customers have even aged fresh cheeses inside, developing rinds on goat tommes and more.
Where Do You Put It?
The Cheese Grotto (from $85, cheesegrotto.com) can be stored either on the counter or in the refrigerator. Keeping it on the counter is more in the European tradition and will make for faster maturing cheeses which will need to be consumed more quickly, without having to be removed from the refrigerator and brought to room temperature. Sennett recommends eating cheeses left in the grotto at room temperature within seven to ten days. But the compact storage item also fits well into a refrigerator and will keep the cheeses fresh for far longer (up to a few months), depending on the varieties. The downside: having to remove the grotto and bring the cheeses to room temperature every time you want to enjoy them.