Business Opinion

Consumer Diary: Travel Arrangements and Cheese Hacks

Following the cheese hack instructions I soaked this paper towel in white vinegar, then wrung it out and placed this 4-week-old hunk of Compte cheese on it. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

By Harlan Levy

With the summer travel season heating up, here are two websites that may make your arrangements simpler and cheaper:

  • Qeeq: This digest of car rental companies covers more than 800 car rental brands and their offerings all in one place and provides a 10% discount on prepaid bookings for car rental brands including Avis, Hertz, Alamo, SIXT, Budget, National, Dollar, and Enterprise. It makes shopping and comparisons easy. And product review site trustpilot.com provided almost all positive customer reviews.
  • Skyscanner: It’s an airline reservations search aggregator – as well as travel agency – based in Edinburgh, Scotland, which lets people research and book flights, hotels, and car rentals all in one place. Based on real traveler ratings, you can find the cheapest flights from all major airlines. The site is available in over 30 languages and is used by 100 million people per month, who can compare the cheapest flights from all major airlines and online travel agents, and find the best plane tickets to your designated destinations. Verified customer reviews in trustpilot.com were almost all complimentary.

Your online history

Here’s another hack for travel shoppers: Clear your online history after booking a destination, because next time you go to the site again for another trip – or any travel site – that site will easily find your history, and the price may go up, precisely because it knows you’re interested or have gone to the destination previously.

Advice: Change your browser from Safari or Chrome or any other browser to DuckDuckGo. It does not save your history of bookings and purchases.

Keeping cheese fresh longer

Following the cheese hack instructions I soaked this paper towel in white vinegar, then wrung it out and placed this 4-week-old hunk of Compte cheese on it. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

I came across this food “hack” from Allrecipes.com for keeping cheese fresh for longer in your fridge. I tried it and now pass it on from Allrecipes.com:

  • Facts: Cheese can become moldy after four to eight weeks, depending on if it’s hard or soft. But, with this hack, your cheese can stay fresh for up to three times longer, according to the article.
  • When storing a fresh block of cheese – or any already refrigerated cheese – in a zip-lock bag, first dip a clean paper towel in white vinegar to dampen it. Then wring out any excess, and and wrap the vinegar-soaked towel completely around the block of cheese. Then transfer it to a zip-top bag and place it in your fridge’s cheese drawer. Monitor the paper towel’s dampness every once in awhile, re-wetting it with more vinegar if it dries out.
  • This hack won’t leave you with a vinegar-flavored cheese. The vinegar will simply stop bacteria from growing on the surface. White vinegar, with its high concentration of acetic acid, has strong antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and also keeps the cheese at just the right level of humidity. Cheese needs to retain some moisture to preserve its texture and flavor, but too much moisture can accelerate mold growth and spoilage.
  • This works best on hard cheeses with a low moisture content (Parmesan, Pecorino, aged Cheddar) and also works fairly well for semi-hard cheeses like Gouda, Swiss, and provolone. For soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, and mozzarella, if the towel is too damp with vinegar, it can cause sogginess or texture changes. In fresh soft cheeses, it can ruin the flavor and texture entirely.

Then I wrapped the cheese in the moist paper towel and placed it in a sandwich bag and put it in our fridge. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

“I haven’t heard of it,” said Deivi, cheese manager at Whole Foods at Bishops Corner. “But it could be true, because we use vinegar to clean cheeses when we see mold and to help protect against bacteria. But I wouldn’t use it with a soft cheese, because the vinegar will get absorbed.”

Andrew, at the Big Y deli counter, said, “I can see that. It makes sense, because cheese is made with milk and vinegar, and vinegar kills bacteria.”

Deivi suggested freezing cheeses you want to keep for long periods.

Now that I’ve put my four-week-old Compte cheese chunk in a vinegar towel and sandwich bag in our fridge I’ll check it in about two weeks or so to see if it’s still edible and tasty and report back.

There’s another similar hack for berries that I found in thekitchn.com: You soak your raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries in a water and vinegar solution of one part vinegar to three parts cool water for 10 minutes. Drain the fruit and rinse it well with cool water, then get it very dry and store it in the fridge in a container (with a slightly lifted cover) lined with dry paper towels. That, the article promises, extends the life of your fresh berries by a week or two.

NOTE: I’m not trying this … too much work.

And now you know.

NOTE: If you have a consumer problem, contact me at [email protected](“Consumer” in subject line), and, with the power of the press, maybe I can help.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Translate »