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    Wiki: Example Cheese Caves

    Cheese Cave is the slang term for the storage system in which aged cheeses are ripened. This wiki article discusses several examples of different Cheese Cave systems, Cheese Cave requirements are discussed in the Wiki: Cheese Cave Requirements article.

    No manufactures make purpose-built small cheese caves and no one cheese cave system fits all. Thus all are built from different systems and  while the range of solutions is infinite, the following are common examples of hobby and artisan cheese caves, their descriptions, temperature and humidity systems, and their pros & cons starting from small/cheap through large/expensive:

    Small Cooler Box

    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.

    Description

    • Small retail box often used to hold cool drinks or hot food for picnic or party.
    • Commonly made out of styrofoam or dual layer plastic with insulation in between.

    Cooling

    • Ice or retail plastic and gel freezer block in bottom changed twice per day.

    Humidity

    • Normally excessively provided by melting ice or sweating/condensation on freezer block while melting and by drying cheese.
    • Commonly have to crack lid on box and mop out puddled water at bottom of box to keep humidity below 100%.

    Pros & Cons

    • Hard to control temperature and humidity.
    • Cheese is in close contact with very cold ice or freezer block.
    • Labor intensive to maintain long-term.
    • Provides little spare physical room.

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    Large Cooler Box

    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

    Description

    • Large retail box often used to hold cool drinks or hot food for picnic or party.
    • Commonly made out of styrofoam or dual layer plastic with insulation in between.

    Cooling

    • Ice or freezer blocks in side changed once per day.

    Humidity

    • Normally adequately provided by melting ice or sweating/condensation on freezer block while melting and by drying cheese.
    • Commonly have to mop out puddled water at bottom of box to keep humidity below 100%.

    Pros & Cons

    • More room than small cooler box to locate ice and perspiration away from cheese.
    • Can house more cheeses.
    • Labor intensive to maintain long-term.

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    Small Food Fridge (& Freezer)

    Pre-Wired Johnson Controls Brand Model A19 Analog Thermostat.

    Pre-Wired Johnson Controls Brand Model A19 Analog Thermostat.

    Description

    • Small less than 0.75 m / 30 in high sealed electric fridge sometimes with mini freezer compartment at top.
    • Smaller ones often used by college kids in dormitory rooms, larger ones for small households to store food and drink.
    • Cooling either by heat exchange pump transmitted to fridge by radiant cooling plate at back of fridge, sometimes augmented by small fan, or by small compressor transmitted to mini freezer compartment which provides radiant cooling to fridge area, normally without fan.

    Cooling

    • Thermostat normally does not allow fridge to go warm enough and thus have to either:
      • Cut foam sheet to shape, install in front of or under cooling device and temperature sensor to trick internal thermostat to thinking it has cooled enough. Have to adjust air flow between refrigerated side and cheese cave side to regulate cheese cave temperature.
      • Purchase and use external override thermostat from Johnson Controls, Ranco, or other manufacturer.

    Humidity

    Four 4 lb Gouda's Aging In Small Fridge With External Thermostat

    Four 4 lb Gouda's Aging In Small Fridge With External Thermostat

    • If unit is fully sealed, no condensation drip line to outside, then humidity normally builds to excessive 100% with free water dripping from freezer compartment onto plastic drip tray requiring toweling out daily or twice daily.
    • If unit is fully sealed except for drip line to outside, then natural humidity is often insufficient and can be added by:
      • Bowl of water to which water is added as evaporated.
      • Bowl of water and a small towel draped in and out of water to act as a wick.
      • Small electric humidifier with soda/pop bottle periodically filled with water.

    Pros

    • If shelves are plastic or chrome coated wire then will enable good air circulation from bottom of cheese.
    • Units with drip line require water bowl and thus reduce space available for cheese.

    Cons

    • If shelves are solid glass then will provide poor air circulation from bottom of ripening cheeses and have to install ventilating matting.
    • Units without condensation drip lines are labor intensive to towel mop out excessive moisture.
    • Either fiddly to install space reducing foam thermal barrier or added cost from external thermostat.
    • Often minimal shelf height adjustment results in less cheeses fitting in cave.
    • Inside of door is often molded plastic shaped to house drinks etc which erodes useable space for ripening cheeses.
    • If freezer compartment, then that column is unusable for cheeses.

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    Wine Bottle Cooler Fridge

    Pre-Wired Johnson Controls Brand Model A419 NEMA 1 Digital Thermostat.

    Pre-Wired Johnson Controls Brand Model A419 NEMA 1 Digital Thermostat.

    Description

    • Sealed electric fridge (nor freezer) purpose-built to store wine bottles horizontally, often with glass door to enable viewing of bottles.
    • Range in size from small holding six standard 0.75 liter wine bottles to very large holding 100′s.
    • Cooling for small units is normally provided by heat exchanger metal plate at back inside of unit or by compressor and fan for larger units.

    Cooling

    • Thermostat normally does allow fridge to go warm enough for cheese cave temperatures and thus do not need to install foam sheet to isolate cooling device and temperature sensor or purchase external override thermostat.

    Humidity

    • Same as above for small fridges.

    Pros

    • Shelves are commonly chrome or plastic coated wire which would offer good air circulation from bottom of cheese.
    • Unlike conventional food fridges, door does not have space wasting food container holders.
    • Unlike conventional food fridges, does not require making and installing thermal barrier to trick thermostat or purchase of external thermostat.
    • More useable space for cheeses as no freezer and door does not have space wasting plastic shelving for food or drinks.
    • Can see your cheeses through glass door.

    Cons

    • Shelves are often curved shape to hold wine bottles and thus not suitable for cheeses and have to be replaced.
    • Units with drip line require device to add humidity reducing space available for cheeses.
    • Often more expensive to purchase than conventional food fridges, sometimes reviewed as less mechanically reliable than standard food fridge.
    • Larger space than picnic coolers although often minimal shelf height adjustment results in less cheeses fitting in cave.

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    Chest Style Food Freezers

    Small Chest Freezer For Cheese Cave.

    Small Chest Freezer For Cheese Cave.

    Description

    • Sealed electric chest shaped freezer (no fridge) purpose-built to freeze and store large volume of food frozen.
    • Normally a rectangular box with small section at one end boxed out for external compressor, cooling wires built into walls, no shelving, sometimes sold with hanging plastic coated wire baskets, normally flat – no storage devices in vertical opening horizontal lid.
    • Range in size from small holding ~0.5 m3 to 3 m3 of frozen food.

    Cooling

    • Thermostat normally does allow freezer to go warm enough for cheese cave temperatures and need to purchase and install external override thermostat from Johnson Controls, Ranco, or other manufacturer.

    Humidity

    Small chest freezer for cheese cave, freezing mode, note frost buildup.

    Small chest freezer for cheese cave, freezing mode, note frost buildup.

    • As unit is normally fully sealed, no condensation drip line to outside, then humidity builds to excessive 100% with free water dripping down walls and building into puddles on bottom of freezer requiring toweling out daily or twice daily to maintain reasonable cheese cave humidity.

    Pros

    • Large flexible volume in which to ripen many cheeses.

    Cons

    • Have to make own shelving system.
    • Top only access thus need space for door to open up and awkward to reach cheeses at bottom of chest freezer.
    • Labor intensive to remove free water to try to maintain humidity at cheese cave required level.

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    Vertical Style Food Freezers

    Several Cheeses Aging In Sealed Chest Type Freezer With External Thermostat

    Several Cheeses Aging In Sealed Chest Type Freezer With External Thermostat

    Description

    • Sealed electric vertical shaped freezer (no fridge) purpose-built to freeze and store large volumes of food frozen.
    • Normally a rectangular box with small section boxed out at bottom for external compressor, cooling wires built into shelves, sometimes with pull out drawers, normally flat – no storage devices in side opening vertical door.
    • Range in size from small holding ~0.5 m3 to 2 m3 of frozen food.

    Cooling

    • Thermostat normally does allow freezer to go warm enough for cheese cave temperatures and need to purchase and install external override thermostat from Johnson Controls, Ranco, or other manufacturer.

    Humidity

    • As unit is normally fully sealed, no condensation drip line to outside, then humidity builds on cooling wire shelves to excessive 100% free water which drips down on top of ripening cheeses resulting in locations for molds or yeast to grow and eventual puddling of water in base of unit requiring toweling out daily or twice daily to maintain reasonable cheese cave humidity.

    Pros

    • Large volume in which to ripen many cheeses.
    • Shelves and if drawers provide easy access to cheeses.

    Cons

    • Shelving or drawer system is normally not flexible in height reducing amount of cheeses that can be stored.
    • Liquid water dripping on ripening cheeses results in defects.
    • Labor intensive to remove free water to try to maintain humidity at cheese cave required level.

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    Vertical Style Food Fridges (& Freezers)

    Description

    • Common kitchen sealed electric vertical shaped fridge, sometimes with connected freezer at top, sometimes with separate freezer at top or more recently on bottom purpose-built to keep large volumes of food and drink cool and if freezer then frozen.
    • Normally a rectangular box with small section boxed out at bottom for external compressor, cooling provided by fan circulating air over external cooling coils, several adjustable shelves, sometimes with pull out vegetable higher humidity storage drawers, normally plastic molded food containers in vertical side opening door to hold bottles and small items.
    • Range in size from small holding ~1 m3 to 3 m3 of storage space.

    Cooling

    • Thermostat normally does now allow fridge to go warm enough for cheese cave temperatures and need to purchase and install external override thermostat from Johnson Controls, Ranco, or other manufacturer.

    Humidity

    • As air is blown by fan over cooling coils, humidity in air condenses on cooling coils which trickles down and out of fridge on to an evaporation pan at bottom of fridge resulting in very low ~30% humidity.
    • If unit is fully sealed except for drip line to outside, then natural humidity is often insufficient and can be added by:
      • Bowl of water to which water is added as evaporated.
      • Bowl of water or water in drawer and a small towel draped in and out of water to act as a wick. If large fridge then drape wick across forced air vent to increase moisture vaporization.
      • Small electric humidifier with soda/pop bottle periodically filled with water.

    Pros

    • Large volume in which to ripen many cheeses.
    • Shelves provide easy access to cheeses.
    • Shelves if chrome or plastic metal wires allow air circulation below bottom of cheeses.
    • Shelves often height adjustable increasing usable space.
    • Easier to increase humidity than to decrease as with some of the examples listed.

    Cons

    • If unit includes freezer then that section is largely unusable for ripening cheese.
    • If shelves are solid glass then will provide poor air circulation from bottom of ripening cheeses and have to install ventilating matting.
    • If unit includes drawers, then normally a poor use of space.
    • Humidity providing system takes up usable space.
    • Inside of door is often molded plastic shaped to house drinks etc which erodes useable space for ripening cheeses.

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