Author Topic: Critique my cave - New to cheese making  (Read 1448 times)

Offline demagxc

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Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« on: August 23, 2012, 11:08:13 PM »
Hello everyone, this is my first post on this forum as I am very new to this. I have been brewing beer for a while now and thought I would get into making cheese. I recently made a new fermentation chamber and thought ahead to incorporate a cheese cave. I built the cave having no knowledge about the best way to go about it and did minimal research (I hope I didnt waste my time lol).

The cave is the top section of the chamber. Cool air is drawn into the cave from the fridge which is usually at 32 degrees F. The flow of air is controlled by a temperature controller attached to a computer fan that will hold within one degree of the set point. There is a draft blocker on both the supply and return out of the chamber that would only open when the fan is running. I plan to control humidity with a container of water with a wick suspended above the fan.

I am hoping that those with vastly more experience than I could weigh in on my cave. Do you anticipate any issues with this setup or could you give any suggestions as to improve it? Thank you all in advance!


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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 07:12:01 AM »
If the upper chamber is for cheese, and the larger, lower chamber is for beer that could be problematic if yeast growth finds it's way onto or into your cheese.

Volume-wise: being new to cheese making I have likely underestimated my space needs. If you are going to be making a cheese a month, or more often, then you likely do not have enough space there if your cheeses will require any duration for aging.


Otherwise I think its a cool set up and it gives me ideas for future expansion!  Kudos on creativity!

Offline demagxc

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 08:03:43 AM »
Thank you!

I do have a slight concern with cross contamination but i feel it can be minimized. The beer its fermented in carboys with an airlock so as long as its filled with water no bacteria from the cheese will be able to enter. I am also assuming that i won't have any overly active fermentations that would cause the beer to exit the top of the airlock. If that does occur the one way draft blockers should reduce the possibility of yeast entering the cave.

The size of it seemed reasonable in concept but you are right it now seems a bit small. We will see how long it takes for me to outgrow it. I hope i can make it work for a while.

Offline Tomer1

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2012, 08:22:16 AM »
You might want to put some kind of tight air filter to prevent yeast contamination between the two fridges.   Beer so I was told by a cheesemaker-beer maker apears to be sensitive to cheese molds\yeast aswell :)
Otherwise your limited to doing mainly vacuumed or waxed cheeses to minimize risk.
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2012, 08:27:45 AM »
+1 on you are likely to need more space.  I started out with one dorm fridge and now have two, thinking a chest freezer might be a good next purchase.  Like brewing, cheese making is addictive and production seems to accelerate at a geometric rate. Now that I seem to be able to make decent cheese I am coming up on 30 pounds of cheese ripening... ;)

If cross contamination turns out to be a problem you can always use mini-caves inside the compartment like those made by Tupperware, Rubbermaid and others.  Many of us do that to keep our blues from contaminating our non blues.  Just remember to wash your hands thoroughly between handling the different products.  I just checked on my Montasios and found blue mold in the shape and pattern of my fingertips.   :-[


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Offline Boofer

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2012, 08:40:01 AM »
When I used to brew, the smell of the fermentation coming through the airlock was divine. I would think you stand a pretty good chance of passing some airborne yeast cells through that airlock. You DO NOT want airborne yeast cells around your cheese-making operation.

Very ambitious project, but I would definitely want to segregate the two hobbies. I recommend a separate 4.x cu ft (or larger) fridge with its own temperature controller to maintain your sanity and permit the development of quality cheeses. There are certainly enough potential problems in making cheese without handicapping your efforts.

And, yes, I would second the need to build in adequate long-term aging space. Some cheeses can require 12 month minimum aging at cave temperatures (Cheddar, Beaufort, Gruyere, Manchego, Gouda, Parmigiano, etc.). While those are aging, you'd still want to be able to make shorter-term cheeses. That takes shelf space. I've found that my two small caves ("night & day") require cheese-juggling sometimes to be able to fit cheeses in. As cheeses hit their aging target they can be moved to a larger, colder fridge for continued longer-term storage.

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Offline psykobillys

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2012, 10:36:03 AM »
i too am new to the whole cheese-making obsession, but i've been brewing for many years. one thing i can tell you about brewing yeast is that they will not metabolize lactose - that's why lactose can be used in beers such as milk stouts (sweet stouts) as a back-sweetener. i'm not sure what else the yeast would do to the cheese. and cheeses that have curds rinsed/marinated in beer would certainly be contaminated with brewers yeast (if using fresh/unfiltered beer).
still, i'd recommend a strong sanitizer in the airlock (like vodka) in order to eliminate any possibility of airborne yeast - and make sure that your air-lock is on tight, because i'm sure that airborne bacteria and/or mold would love to feast on fresh wort!
 :o
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Offline max1

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2012, 10:42:33 AM »
Vodka in the airlock.  That's so simple, yet brilliant!  I live in Belgium and my father home-brews Belgian beer.  In a couple of weeks, I'm going to go make cheese at Chimay, to see how it's done.  It will help me with developing my own abbey-style cheese, that I plan to wash with my father's beer, like a 'Chimay à la bière'.  Keep an eye out for any updates, you could do the same with your beer!

Offline psykobillys

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Re: Critique my cave - New to cheese making
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2012, 10:48:26 AM »
I'm going to go make cheese at Chimay, to see how it's done.  It will help me with developing my own abbey-style cheese, that I plan to wash with my father's beer, like a 'Chimay à la bière'.  Keep an eye out for any updates, you could do the same with your beer!

cheers to that!
"Give a man some beer and he'll waste an afternoon. Teach a man to brew and he'll waste a lifetime." - Old Psyko Proverb