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The Dos and Don’ts of Buying Cheese Online

Online shopping has exploded in the last few years. Cyber Monday is now as insane as Black Friday, and Black Friday has now expanded to the Internet as well (and yes, both “holidays” are — gulp — right around the corner!). The best part about being able to purchase items with a single click? Almost anyone can get their hands on artisan cheese.

One of the wonderful things about cheese is that different parts of the world make it so differently. In the past, cheese lovers were more or less restricted to their regional specialties, and extremely well known national or international brands. Now, thanks to the Internet, folks who want a taste of something different can simply order online — no cheese shop, class, or farmers’ market necessary.

Online ordering does, however, pose a few risks. Cheese can go bad so quickly, and it often doesn’t take much to ruin the delicious taste. If it’s stored incorrectly, or it takes too long to get to the consumer, the consumer has wasted their time and money (and specialty cheeses can get really expensive). To avoid such a tragedy, here are some tips on buying cheese online.

First of all, buy from a reputable cheese shop. Do some research and make sure this company has a good reputation, and that their customers are frequently satisfied. This might mean giving up a great bargain, but if you want good cheese, this is a much safer way to go. See some examples of reputable cheese shops here.

Next, be sure to look into how they ship their cheese. iGourmet.com, for example, allows customers to choose the day they will get their cheese. They also clearly note what days cheese can’t be delivered, set a time limit on same-day deliveries, and break down additional fees by location and by company the cheese is being bought from. The website for Murray’s Cheese, a highly popular cheese shop in New York City, has very similar shipping policies laid out on their website, but don’t do same-day delivery, and have fewer restrictions than iGourmet. Both companies have great reputations, and are both ranked among some of the top online cheese shops out there. You want cheese shipping policies that are relatively similar to these, and if they don’t give their shipping information, don’t buy from them.

How the cheese is packed is also essential information. Stephanie Stiavetti of Serious Eats claims to have received her cheese “so cold, I have to leave it out on the counter for an hour to reach room temperature” on more than one occasion. This is good; your cheese will keep while its being mailed to you. You want a company that lays out their storage methods like this, even if they do things a little bit differently. The packaging information should be on the same page as the shipping information.

Finally, keep track of the estimated delivery time, and make sure you’re home when the cheese is delivered. This may seem obvious, but if you’re not there, the cheese will sit outside until you return. Get your cheese quickly, and get it in your fridge as soon as possible. 

Ready to tackle buying cheese online? A good place to start is our autumn centerfold, a delicious sampling of hard, cow’s milk Swedish cheese, strawberry-rhubarb conserve, and fennel-y salami. If you’re not quite ready to put your money where your mouth is, why don’t you enter our seasonal giveaway? Thirteen varieties of goat cheese could be all yours — no purchase necessary.

Go forth and buy your cheese off the Internet! But remember these rules when you do, so you don’t end up with spoiled cheese and an empty wallet.

Photo Credit: Yooazy.com

Amanda Doughty

Amanda Doughty considers cheese to be an essential part of her upbringing, as her family owns Anthony's Italian Kitchen, an Italian restaurant in Portland, Maine. Currently she studies creative writing at Emerson, where she is considered an outcast for refusing to touch the disgusting pizza in the Dining Hall. She admits that is a bit of a food snob, especially when it comes to pizza and cheese.