This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
Sometimes I feel like I have every kitchen appliance and cooking tool under the sun. From the basics—pots and pans, blenders, food processors—to the more obscure—fondue pots, a seltzer maker, a dumpling steamer, I have it all housed in various cabinets and drawers (and even some overflow in the basement!) throughout my kitchen. Really, I have everything you could ever want to stock a kitchen with—or so I thought.
I recently discovered something called a Cheese Grotto while scrolling through my Instagram feed. To be honest, I’d never even heard of the at-home mini cheese cave before, but it immediately piqued my interest.
Cheese Grotto Piatto
Keeps unwrapped cheese fresh
Two designs available in four sizes
Thermometer and hygrometer accessories available
Needs dedicated space in your refrigerator
It turns out, a Cheese Grotto is a small wooden box that keeps wedges and wheels of cheese at precisely the right climate to help maintain freshness, so you can better enjoy it over a period of time. Part of the beauty of it is that you don’t even need to wrap the cheese first. The controlled climate eliminates that need, so all you have to do is place the cheese on the shelf and close the Grotto.
Of course, there’s a little bit of prep work that goes into it—but it’s minimal and something that even someone as busy as I am can manage. Initially, you have to wash the shelf with hot water, let it air dry, and then wipe it down with the included wood oil. The Grotto also comes with a brick that needs to be soaked in water prior to use (and again once every two to three weeks, depending on your model)—that’s partially where the essential humidity comes from.
Part of the beauty of it is that you don’t even need to wrap the cheese first. The controlled climate eliminates that need, so all you have to do is place the cheese on the shelf and close the Grotto.
But once you’re up and running, you can store any type of cheese inside (with the exception of fresh cheese spreads like ricotta or cheeses that should be stored in a salt and water brine solution like feta). Even really stinky cheese can sit next to more delicate ones. And you can even use the Grotto to mature homemade cheese, since the ambient temperature range of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit inside accurately replicates the environment of a cheese cave. For precision, the company sells a thermometer and hygrometer, so you can verify you’re maintaining the correct environment for the style of cheese you’re making.
The Grotto, which comes in two different designs—a more basic in three sizes and a more elevated in a single size—is designed to be stored on both the counter and in the fridge, but the company recommends the fridge for any storage longer than a week and for places where the ambient temperature spikes above 70 degrees. With proper use, testing shows that the Grotto extends the shelf life of cheese three times better than professional cheese paper and Tupperware and four times longer than plastic wrap.
Before I got the Cheese Grotto, I almost never stocked fresh cheese, but, boy, do I love a good cheese plate. The company makes it easy to start enjoying near-daily cheese plates, since it’s partnered with Vermont-based cheesemaker Consider Bardwell Farm to offer cheese subscriptions for stocking your Grotto. Now, I indulge in my own mini version every afternoon around 4 pm when my stomach starts to rumble, but it’s not quite time for dinner. I simply slide open the shelf, cut myself a decent piece of cheese, and pair it with something fun in the fridge—candied jalapeños, pickled veggies, or some peach slices. It’s the perfect little daily indulgence, and one I can’t wait to give to someone else.
Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 6 inches, 9 x 7 x 8 inches, 12 x 7.5 x 8.5 inches | Capacity: 2 pounds, 4 pounds, 8 pounds | Material: Baltic birch, bamboo, plexiglass
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Brigitt Earley is a freelance lifestyle writer who covers food and kitchen-related content for The Spruce Eats. She is a former RealSimple.com editor whose work has also appeared on Oprah Daily, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, Reviewed, and more. She also holds a certificate in culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute (now the Institute of Culinary Education).