Author Topic: Traditional Washing -The hows, whys, whens, whats, and what not (by request)  (Read 5673 times)

Offline Boofer

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Just thought I would throw in a quick shot of my latest Mutschli.  Cognac washed with a nice smear going on.  This has become one of our favorite cheeses.  Thanks again Alp!! ;D  I'll be smoking the next one.
Good-looking cheese, Al. A cheese to you for inspiring me to give this style a go. I don't recall...does this age well? Seems like it should.

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Offline Al Lewis

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Thanks Boofer!! This one is ready at 2 months max.  It's not a long aged cheese but more of a semi-hard fresh one.  Tastes great!!

Offline Smurfmacaw

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Maybe someone can answer my question on washing......I'm trying to get the schmeir, I really am.  Alp says the cheese should stay wet not damp.  Now, while I realize maybe I have some RH issues here in San Diego, normally runs in the 40's with occaisional forays outside of that, I've started using mini-caves inside the dorm fridges I use to age cheese.  I keep any given cheese for washing on a raw wood board (bass wood since I had some avialable and it is pretty neutral) with a glass bowl turned over it.  I know it's fairly humid since there is light condensation on the inside of the bowl yet when I wash the cheese and leave it wet (seriously wet, puddles on top wet), within 12 hours its dry to the touch.  What am I missing here?  Latest cheese is a Tomme that I'm planning a washed/schmeir rind on with PLA.  I'm washing with a light brine that is 1/3 red wine, 2/3 bottled water and a bit of salt.  Where is the wash going?  The cheese isn't getting heavier.  Is the moisture going through the board into the dryer atmosphere of the fridge?

Offline Boofer

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It's schmier.

Seems like you do have a low RH problem. Do you have condensation inside the minicave? Your board may be sucking the life out of the cheese too. Can you try swapping out the board for a mat...to test? I believe Alp's washing instructions included washing the board at the same time. Have you been doing that? That would help to increase the available humidity.

Do you have a humidistat to put in the minicave to monitor the RH?

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Offline Smurfmacaw

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Boofer,

the mini-cave does actually have condensation in it.  Not enough to drip on the cheese, I would prop it open a little more if that was the case.  I'll try without the board and see if that helps a little but I don't think it's the problem since the atmosphere in the mini cave is humid enough to cause condensation.  I do wash the board, basically I use the brush and give it a good wet scrub. 

Humidistat in the fridge measures around 60% RH.  I've got a bowl of water with a microfiber wick in it but that only takes the fridge up to about 20% above ambient.  I'm trying a slightly different wash routine, flip and wash in the morning and then wash the same side again in the evening.  Seems like it's wanting to develop some goo now.  I'll swap out the board  with a draining mat on a plate to see if that makes any difference.

I think the next step will be a small fan to blow on the wick.  If that doesn't work then I'll have to figure out a way to use a ultrasonic humidifier in the fridges.  I can get a combination humidity and temperature controller fairly cheap  but as usual, things aren't that accurate except between 20 and 80% RH.

I ended up vacuum bagging the gruyere I had in the cave even though it has a pretty good rind.  At least this way I don't have to worry about it and it frees up some space on the aging shelves.


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Offline Alpkäserei

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You need a humidity of 85 to 95% for this
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Smurfmacaw

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I've pretty much resigned myself to boxes inside the fridges to keep the humidity higher until I can figure out a way to keep the entire fridge at a much higher RH.  On the plus side, I took a core sample of the Mutschlii I made and it is coming along really well.  I think it's going to be a great cheese.

Offline Al Lewis

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RH in my cave is 90%.  I keep the temp right around 56F.

Offline Boofer

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I've pretty much resigned myself to boxes inside the fridges to keep the humidity higher until I can figure out a way to keep the entire fridge at a much higher RH.
Here's another piece of information which may help you. I typically have two or three minicaves in each cave when I'm running full-bore.

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Offline tnbquilt

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RH in my cave is 90%.  I keep the temp right around 56F.

How did you manage that? The refrigerator sucks the humidity out yet you have accomplished perfection. I'd be real interested in details.
Tammy


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Offline Al Lewis

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RH in my cave is 90%.  I keep the temp right around 56F.


How did you manage that? The refrigerator sucks the humidity out yet you have accomplished perfection. I'd be real interested in details.


Take a look at the cave I set up in the cave forum.  Just works out that in Washington State my setup came out perfect.  After a week or two the RH went to 90% and has stayed there.  I think the moisture collecting on the coils in each shelf make that happen.  Way more luck than judgement. LOL
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 05:31:51 PM by Al Lewis »

Offline John@PC

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Take a look at the cave I set up in the cave forum.  Just works out that in Washington State my setup came out perfect.  After a week or two the RH went to 90% and has stayed there.  I think the moisture collecting on the coils in each shelf make that happen.  Way more luck than judgement. LOL
[/quote]

Al, in my opinion you stumbled on the "perfect cave":  cheap, wire shelves (i.e. good air circulation), and direct cool.   My cave is an older frost-free fridge but what I've discovered is (1) frost free is not an advantage for cheese caves because of the exposed cooling coils and air channels that are very hard to sanitize, and (2) direct cool is less expensive to operate and gives more cu. ft. / $.  In other words I would gladly trade my 18 or so cu. ft. fridge for your 6 cu. ft. Igloo in a second.

Just in case anyone is confused:  direct cool refrigerators and freezers have their cooling coils "inside" the inner shell and don't have an air circulation system like frost-free.  I think many wine coolers are direct cool, which is probably why cheese makers don't have problems keeping humidity in the right range with those.  If you thik about it, when you take your 80% RH air and blow it over the "below freezing" coils in a frost-free you're essentially operating a large dehumidifier.  Only solution I've found for my old frost-free is to keep pumping in more humidity than the "system" takes out.

As an interesting aside, if you google "direct cool refrigerator" you will find that almost all are being sold in the east (i.e. India, Indonesia, etc.). 

Offline tnbquilt

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It looks like one of those with the coils in the shelves. I purposely didn't buy one of those because I thought it would not be good. I'm glad it's working out for you. I went to more trouble than that and don't have the right humidity so I use mini caves until I vacuum seal them or wax them.
Tammy

Offline Al Lewis

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Yes, the coils run through each shelf.  I've placed plastic spacers, about 1/2" thick, on each shelf with a bamboo mat and draining mat on top of that.  All three have plenty of air spaces for circulation and they keep the bottom of the cheeses from being exposed directly to the freezer coils.  The freezer is set to it's highest temperature setting, so it doesn't come on full blast every time, and is further controlled by a Johnson Controls external thermostat.  I routinely clean it using a spray bottle filled with a water/chlorine bleach solution. I really like my setup and it's working great for me.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 10:06:12 AM by Al Lewis »

Offline Boofer

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Hey, Al, is this possibly your elusive Pont l'Eveque? :)

-Boofer-
Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.