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    Wiki: Cheese Cave Requirements

    Making and forming aged cheese are often the easiest stages and ripening or aging cheeses from days to weeks to months or years is often the hardest part. This wiki article discusses aging equipment minimum and preferred requirements. Examples of Cheese Cave systems are discussed in the Wiki: Example Cheese Caves article.

    Two 0.5 kg cumin & plain Gouda's aging in small drinks cooler on ice block.

    Two 0.5 kg cumin & plain Gouda's aging in small drinks cooler on ice block.

    Most cheese making recipes or methods require aging at steady temperatures and humidity levels to minimize shocks to the cheeses. The actual temperatures and humidity levels are dependent on the cheese type and method and are typically at a temperature of 10-13 C/50-55 F and at a relative humidity or 80-95%. The art of aging is called affinage in French and historically it was performed by a separate person called, again in French, an Affineur.

    No one has this magic stable “Cheese Cave” conditions year round let alone within a 24 hour period thus unless you have ready access to an underground cave the hobby and artisan cheese maker will have to create this environment as do commercial cheese manufacturers, albeit on a larger scale. Note, if cheeses are highly impermeable sealed such as by vacuum bags or waxing, then external to the cheese humidity is no longer an issue.

    Both the temperature and humidity are critical, in general:

    • Temperature too low and the cheese will ripen too slowly.
    • Temperature too high and the cheese will ripen too quickly and can go rancid.
    • Humidity too low and the cheese will dry out and potential crack from uneven quick drying.
    • Humidity too high and unwanted mold can quickly take root, often on the cheese surfaces.

    The external environment to where you want to place your cheese cave and the type of cave dictates your heating/cooling and humidity add/remove requirements. For examples for temperature control, locating one in an uninsulated garage in Northern Canada would require heating most of the year and cooling for a short period in summer. Conversely locating one inside a heated and air-conditioned house with year round roughly stable temperatures of 72F / 21C or in a garage in the stable warm tropics of Brunei would result cooling being required all year round. For examples for humidity control, most systems require adding humidity as cooling normally dehydrates air, but some systems like a closed sealed freezer or fridge use indirect radiant cooling which as sealed can over time if located in an external medium-high humidity environment build up humidity to 100% resulting in water puddles inside the freezer which are a location for unwanted micro-organisms to grow.

    Minimum Requirements

    Most Of Two 0.5 kg Cumin & Plain Gouda's Aging In Medium Drinks Cooler With Large Ice Block On Side

    Most Of Two 0.5 kg Cumin & Plain Gouda's Aging In Medium Drinks Cooler With Large Ice Block On Side

    • Made from easily cleanable low porosity food grade hygienic material so that they minimally harbour micro-organisms.
    • Reasonably sealed to stop unwanted entrance of insects or animals yet allow some air movement in an out of the cave to allow the cheese to breath.
    • A means of providing cooling or heating or both depending on the cheese caves external environment.
    • A means of adding or removing excess humidity depending on the cheese caves external environment and how sealed the cave is.
    • Large enough to house your cheeses for the planned length of time and any special ripening containers for surface mold type cheeses.
    • Large enough to house your humidity control system, such as adjusting lids daily on food grade plastic containers, or having a bowl of water in your cave to add humidity, or having a bowl with a cloth towel wick draped over side or across fan, or for larger caves, having a humidifier inside your cave.
    • How much energy you want to exert on maintaining your cheese cave’s temperature and humidity over days to weeks to months or years.
    • Your finances.

    Preferable Requirements

    Several Cheeses Aging In Sealed Chest Type Freezer With External Thermostat

    Several Cheeses Aging In Sealed Chest Type Freezer With External Thermostat

    • Different cheese caves for cheeses that have different temperature and humidity aging requirements and if white or blue molds are intentionally being used.
    • Closely weaved flat wire shelves to allow cheeses to breath on their bottoms vs glass shelves in many fridges or curved wire shelves in a wine cooler type fridge.
    • Shelves that are adjustable height for efficiently storing different height cheeses.
    • If using a fridge, a door without shelving as shelves for milk and salad dressing bottles do not fit cheeses well, and without salad drawer(s) as an inefficient use of space.

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