If you’re making hard cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda, chances are you either already waxing them, or have been looking into how to do so.
Cheese wax is a pliable, paraffin based wax that is usually coloured red, yellow or black. You can also get green and blue wax.
On a side note, ever wondered why there are different colours?
In the commercial cheese world each colour of wax signifies something about the cheese, whether it be maturity, type, added ingredients like herbs, or fat content.
Anyway, back on topic.
For some, when venturing into using cheese wax, there may be concerns about using paraffin based wax because of chemicals in the wax and how sustainable this type of wax is and you might be tempted to look at another option.
Beeswax is usually that option.
As we all know, beeswax is made naturally by bees. It is used for all sorts of applications and appreciated for it’s natural make up and sustainability.
Can You Use Beeswax For Cheese Wax?
Yes you can.
In fact it has been used for centuries to wax cheeses, although ‘modern’ waxes have become more popular these days.
Beeswax Vs Paraffin – Cheese Wax Ingredients
Beeswax, like most waxes, can become brittle when set and stored in cold conditions and may crack and pull away from the cheese. Paraffin based waxes have an extra ingredient added to avoid this issue. Some cheese makers and beeswax fans have suggested adding vegetable shortening, coconut oil or a small amount of mineral oil to the beeswax to assist with the pliability. Others believe it doesn’t need it and prefer to keep the beeswax pure and untainted by other ingredients.
Beeswax, like normal cheese wax, also needs to be applied with care.
Your cheese should be dry, and cold before you attempt to apply the wax.
And your wax should be hot, but not boiling. Beeswax melts at around 65º Celsius/150º Fahrenheit.
Like the paraffin based waxes you can dip your cheese into the wax half at a time, and then carefully rotate it to coat all of the surfaces, or you can paint your wax on. Just be sure to follow the precautions mentioned in our Waxing Your Cheese post. These still apply with beeswax obviously.
Beeswax isn’t necessarily cheaper than paraffin based cheese wax but the cost is usually weighed up against the positives of using a natural, renewable and sweet smelling product.
Also, you don’t use a large amount of wax to wax your cheeses and beeswax can be reused as long as you reheat it and strain it to remove any debris that may mold over time so you won’t need to buy kilos and kilos of the stuff.
If you’re lucky enough to access to a bee keeper or your own hives then it’s well worth giving it a try to see if you like the results.
Do you have any questions or comments about BeesWax for Cheese Wax? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!
7 thoughts on “BeesWax Cheese Wax”
When I first started making cheeses about three years ago, I stored/aged them in FoodSaver bags. As they got older, I was disappointed with the flavor profile and texture, and so last fall I removed the cheeses from FoodSaver bags and waxed them in beeswax.
After a very short time, the beeswax cracked and pulled away from the cheese allowing mold to develop. [In some areas the beeswax didn’t pull away, making cleaning the cheeses a very time consuming aspect of re-waxing the cheeses when I gave up on the beeswax and re-waxed them with cheese wax]. It took me at least two full 12 hour days to clean the cheeses from beeswax and any mold that had developed, and re-wax them with cheese wax.
I have also bandaged a few cheeses. I generally liked the flavor and texture of my bandaged cheeses, but they were more work than just using cheese wax, and they were a little musty for my taste. My husband’s friends raved about them. I guess my palate just isn’t sophisticated enough!
I made a 3 to 4 pound cheese (or two) a week for almost two years, and I have plenty of cheese stored up! As we work through the stockpile of cheeses, I’m interested to see how well the waxed cheeses (mostly cheddar) come out. Eventually, I may be able to try some cheeses that are younger and have just been aged under correct conditions from the start. Learning is a process . . .
My husband thought perhaps that beeswax would affect the flavor of he cheese. Have you found this to be the case?
It certainly can impart a honey-ish taste to your cheeses so if you don’t want that possible added taste, then you may choose not to try beeswax.
What great information. I always wondered if one could use beeswax.
Having been a beekeeper for 60 years and also being very concerned about the environment, I certainly can make a few comments.
In the ‘good old days’ beeswax probably was pure and healthy, however these days with all the agro chemicals in use everywhere (neonicotinoid insecticides especially, herbicides and fungicides) beeswax is no longer the pure substance it should be. Add to this the fact that there are bacterial diseases and mites that parasitize bees such that beekeepers have to use a myriad of antibiotics and miticides to keep their bees alive and all these chemicals get into the wax. This is especially so in the brood combs which are not replaced very often so the chemicals build up over time, less so in honey combs which can be used for many years during the summer only, and minimally in the cappings. The cappings are the layer of wax that the bees cover each honey cell when full of honey, rather like a lid on a jar of honey. The bees do this at the last minute and the beekeeper removes the honey frames as soon as possible. Therefore the cappings are exposed to any chemicals for the minimal amount of time. The beekeeper has to slice off the top of the cells in order to spin the honey out and he ends up with a lot of these cappings mixed with honey. The honey is allowed to drip out and then the wax can be melted and filtered.
Here endeth the lesson.
I have done this! Some have been successful, others have had mold. I was thinking of switching to cheese wax; I have decided not to do that! In reading your steps you say to hold it for 4-5 seconds, that may be my downfall, I tend to dip but not hold. I am not a faithful turner of the cheese either once it is in the wine fridge. To a better season!n
If you’re concerned about beeswax being too brittle for sealing cheese, you can always add a little olive oil to the melted wax. It will make it softer and more pliable. I’m relatively new at cheese making, but I’m a long time beekeeper, and always experimenting with wax.
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