How To Ship Cheese For The Holidays

December 5, 2019

How To Ship Cheese For The Holidays

Imagine a box filled with the finest Wisconsin cheeses, delivered right to your door, just in time for some holiday festivities. What could be better?

There’s no replacement for discovering new cheeses with the guidance of a local cheese shop, but sometimes you just want cheese brought to you in the comfort of your own home. 

The basics of cheese shipping

Cheese is a perishable food. It’s made up of living, breathing organisms, and those organisms need you to take care of them with some thoughtful packaging. That said, most cheeses aren’t quite as fragile as you imagine and can handle shipping just fine with a few simple considerations.

Step 1: Picking the right cheese for shipping

We love all Wisconsin cheeses, but some cheeses make better candidates for shipping than others. Soft or fresh cheeses are generally too sensitive to ship across large distances without specialized packaging. We recommend leaving the shipment of soft cheeses to the pros—they’ll know exactly how to handle these delicate cheeses. While you won’t be able to ship soft or fresh cheeses yourself, this is just an extra incentive to plan a trip to a cheese shop near you. 

As a general rule, hard cheeses will handle shipping better than fresh or soft cheeses.

A hard cheese like parmesan will be perfectly happy traveling across the country to you or an eagerly awaiting recipient (provided it’s packed correctly, but more on this later). Semi-soft varieties of cheeses like the rich and buttery havarti are also cooperative when it comes to shipping.

Step 2: Preparing cheese for shipping

Just like getting ready for vacation, shipping cheese requires some planning and careful packing. Start by finding a comfortable temporary home for your cheese. To ensure optimal quality, some type of insulation lining the inside of the shipping box is a must. This insulation will keep the temperature cool and stable inside the box so your cheese stays happy.

You’ll want to add some shipping-safe cold packs to your insulated box to help maintain a cool temperature, particularly in warmer months.

When it comes to preparing the cheese itself, leave it in its original packaging or, if you’re cutting off smaller pieces (keeping some for yourself, wise move), wrap it in cheese paper. Cheese paper ensures that the cheese can breathe while still being protected from outside elements. Finally, pack securely so your cheese won’t be moving around the box. 

Step 3: Shipping your cheese 

With the packaging out the way, it’s almost time to say some tearful goodbyes as you bid farewell to your cheese. Before you do that though, we have some final considerations to make sure your cheese has a safe journey to its destination. The first shipping concern you’ll have to grapple with is time in transit.

To ensure optimal quality and safe consumption, we would recommend shipping cheeses with next day shipping options. Cheese shouldn’t spend more than two days in transit.

Although hard cheeses are less sensitive to humidity and temperature changes, the two-day rule is a good rule of thumb to follow. If your friend across the country is eagerly awaiting a shipment of Wisconsin Cheese, you’ll want to check the estimated shipping times to avoid any issues with freshness. We’d also recommend shipping early in the week to avoid having your cheese stuck at a warehouse over the weekend. Not only will the cheese get lonely, it also means less time outside a temperature and humidity-controlled refrigerator.

Cheese storage

No discussion for cheese shipping would be complete without a few storage recommendations for the lucky recipient. Thankfully, cheese is low maintenance and easy to please.

Our top recommendation is to gently wrap your cheese in cheese paper and introduce it to its new home in the produce drawer.

The produce drawer—as opposed to the rest of your refrigerator—generally has higher humidity and temperature, which are friendly conditions for most cheeses. Read our comprehensive guide to cheese storage to learn the three c’s of cheese storage.  

Ship, ship away!

We love the holidays, and we love cheese. What better way to combine the two than giving the gift of Wisconsin cheese this Christmas? If shipping cheese yourself has you anxious, never fear. You can choose from our full selection of carefully curated cheese baskets to find the perfect present. Share your cheesy creation with us on Instagram or Facebook to become part of the largest cheese community in the world.

FAQs: Cheese Shipping

Can cheese be shipped without refrigeration?

It depends on the variety. Avoid shipping fresh or soft cheeses like fresh mozzarella without refrigeration as they require cold temperatures for food safety reasons. If you really, really want to share some fresh or soft Wisconsin cheese with a distant friend, we recommend contacting the cheesemaker or a trusted cheese retailer directly for specific shipping instructions. Hard cheeses like parmesan are perfectly happy without refrigeration during shipping but should spend no longer than two days in transit before arriving to their grateful recipient. 

Can cheese be sent through the mail?

Absolutely! You’ll need to use insulated boxes and gel ice packs to keep your cheese safe and cool, but with proper precautions, you can safely ship cheese across the country. Make sure you pay attention to estimated delivery times to avoid having your cheese stuck in a warehouse for days and avoid using ground shipping options for long-distance shipping. 

What cheeses can you ship?

The firmer the cheese, the better it will ship. Hard cheeses like parmesan or asiago can be shipped easily and without fuss. Softer cheeses like blue will require some more attention paid to insulation and cooling. Fresh cheeses generally cannot be shipped without active refrigeration or very short travel times.


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