Author Topic: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese  (Read 1857 times)

Offline lead_dog

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Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« on: April 11, 2013, 09:32:34 AM »
We milk 13 Jersey cows and make cheese from all of the milk. I currently have a traditional walk-in cooler for a cheese cave. It is 28' long by 8' wide. For the most part, I store 12-lb wheels of Alpine (Gruyere style) cheese on shelves, and have the shelves arranged where I can get up to 800 cheeses in the cave (see attached photo).

I have also made a lot of blue cheese, which has a very nice following with chefs and retailers. However, I stopped aging it in the cave because b. linens would penetrate the piercings of the blue and leave small amounts of unwanted pink mold in the paste. Not a huge problem for chefs, but not retail quality.  So..., I'd like to add an additional cave for now but suspect we'll need to expand even further later, since I make primarily long-aged cheeses (Gruyere and clothbound cheddar). It makes no economic sense for us to do something like Jasper Hill did or Bonny Blue in TN, so my question is this...

What is the most cost-effective way of constructing modular cheese caves for farmstead cheesmakers who are small, but may grow moderately?

I do have cement slabs poured next to the dairy, so one idea is to buy insulated, interlocking panels (like those to assemble walk-in coolers), construct small rooms (12X12 or so) and maintain temperature with CoolBots. The first room could be used solely for blue cheese, and if I need space to expand either blue or b.linens cheeses, I could add another. Of course, I'd need to consider airflow pipes on the bottom and top of each unit.

BTW, I do have the Cheese Cave Report from Silvery Moon that was sponsored by SARE.

Any ideas/thoughts on how to approach this from those who have experience?

Grateful for your help.


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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 03:35:34 PM »
Love the photos and that you're thinking of this.  I only have a few goats si I am not in your league but I've considered the option of insulated food grade shipping containers with coolbots.  I need a root cellar too so I was thinking of dividing one into two parts and actually, I was interested in partially burying it.  Have not gotten to the point of  sourcing/pricing these.  Please keep this thread going with your ideas and do you want to share the SARE document?  There've been a few cheese cave grants given out in the northeast I believe.    :)

Offline linuxboy

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Offline caithd

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2013, 08:16:49 PM »
We're in the same boat but milking 60 dairy sheep and making cheese with all of the milk. For the past three years we have been using an above-ground walk in cooler with Cool-Bot but want a designated space for blues as well. We want to construct a more permanent space, perhaps underground, so I would be interested in other's input as well!

What type of wood are you using for the shelves in your picture? Our new caves are a few years away yet but new wooden shelving is on the list for our current cave.

Offline WovenMeadows

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2013, 09:00:01 PM »
Thoughts:
In regards to a cheese cave that is "modular," perhaps somewhat temporary or moveable, I'm thinking you're pretty much stuck with walk-in cooler type setups or insulated (truck) boxes. All either of these really are is insulation sandwiched between some (thin) structural support. Decent insulating R-value, but not much mass. Perhaps one could incorporate barrels of water or the like if one wanted more mass to help buffer the cooling load or provide a more stable temperature if needed. Anything with mass - concrete, stone, etc - is not going to be very temporary or movable. And if building anything permanent, you might as well go below ground (space allowed) for more passive cooling, added insulation, and maybe higher humidity.

If there's a question of short-term needs vs long-term expansion, perhaps one could build a larger aging area, and subdivide with insulated walk-in cooler panels to create a smaller space for aging. Or to divide for different types of aging, with all rooms benefiting from a nicely insulated or massive shell.





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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 09:54:54 AM »
look into making boxes out of structural insulated panels (SIPs)

you could make a box of these and cut a door opening into it, i imagine you could make a pretty insulated box for quite a bit cheeper than the cost of a refer box.

i have also been working on the idea of individual aging boxes, like large cabinets each with it own climate control. this would prevent cross contamination.
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 09:52:04 AM »
Hi Alp, I have lived in a SIP house that I built and it is a problem keeping it clear of Carpenter ants.  The SIPs were a minimum of 20" off the ground and still ants moved in despite all our sealing efforts.  There are a lot things I like about SIPs and ICFs  (Insulated Concrete Forms) and I chose to build my recent house of ICFs but not so sure how I'd address the ant issue.  I'd use ICFs for a cave before I'd use SIPs because of the temp modulating effect of the thermal mass.  I'd coat the who,e thing carefully with an adhesive roofing membrane of EPDM, then put adhesive mesh on it and stucco with a synthetic stretchy stucco like I did for my current house.  or I'd build it underground and just use the roofing membrance before burying it.  That's my dream cave!

I really like your idea of individual aging boxes or maybe cabinets even.....like some old store beverage cabinets?  Wonder if that might work.....

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2013, 09:57:33 AM »
For the ant problem, spray the raw panel exterior with a mix of boric acid and borate, dissolved in propylene/ethylene glycol and water. Old logging recipe. Let it dry off and you'll never have insect issues.
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Offline jwalker

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2013, 08:23:28 AM »
I just noticed this thread so perhaps I'm a little late , but how about refrigerated shipping containers?

They are insect and mouse proof , well insulated , come with a refer unit (usually diesel , but many have a 220v electric motor for when in transport on ships , they come in 20 , 24 , and 40 foot lengths.

You can buy new , used , or rent or lease , they can be delivered to any site and unloaded with a crane or any good loader/forklift.

I know someone who has one for meat storage , they can even be coated with foundation coatings and buried.(like our local pot growers do) ;D

They can be very affordable , I have an uninsulated one in my yard for storage.

Just an idea.

Cheers , Jim.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 08:15:15 AM by jwalker »
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2013, 10:18:12 AM »
Jim,  Do you have suggestions for good place to get one of these?  I've been thinking of these for a root cellar/cheese cave.



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Offline jwalker

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2013, 08:26:01 AM »
In Canada we get them from bigsteelbox.com  , but here's an American dealer ,  http://miniwarehousing.com/     

You can usually find big trucking companies that sell them , or container dealers in any major city though.

We pay about 3-4000 dollars for a 40 foot container , depending on condition , that includes delivery anywhere in Canada , I imagine it would be less in the US.

It would be hard to build a 8x40 building for under $3000 , so they can be very cost effective.

The 20 footers are usually more expensive than the 40 footers because they are more in demand , so if you have the room , the 40's are probably the best deal.

Cheers , Jim.
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Ideas for Modular Cheese Caves for Farmstead Cheese
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2013, 10:10:49 AM »
Thank you, Jim!  Appreciate the links and thoughts.   :D