To add one more point. Schmiers have succession of flora that are very exact and require rather technical precision. It goes like this
- Yeasts (generally candida, debromyces, kluyveromyces, geotricum, and actually a bacterium, staph) settle and eat up surface lactic acid to deacidify the surface. Your wash at 3% keeps them a little bit in check. Rind at this time needs to have a moderately high aW, somewhere in the mid .90s. Not super high, you need a little dryness. Humidity needs to be lower, 60-70%, temp needs to be somewhat high, 55ish. This is the haloir phase of your schmier development. If you go directly to cave with a higher humidity, it's not the end of the world.
- After you have surface deacidification, the rind itself should maintain moderately high aW, same around low .90s. And the wash will introduce the corynebacteria (arthrobacter, b linens, staph xylosus, etc). Surface pH needs to be 5.6 or higher (5.8 usually target). This needs to happen 48-72 hours after brining. And humidity should be fairly high, low 90s, with a temp around 52F. The frequent washing helps to spread bacteria and really establish it on the rind. Because rind aW is a bit lower than the beginning, the yeasts tend to get incorporated into the polysaccharide and casein schmier matrix, creating a kind of "skin". Managing this skin is what you're after with the successive washes.
- Afterward, with regular washing to establish this skin, you go to maintenance mode just to keep it all alive and going, and molds at bay. Can knock humidity down a bit, and lower the temp, depending on the maturation targets.
If you mess any of these up... such as high surface aW, inadequate coryneforms in your wash, humidity/temp issues, pH gradients on surface due to uneven cut, etc, it's pretty tough to get back on track. Every little thing matters and errors and compounded and magnified. Which is why a proper beaufort or other gruyere style, or a well done high moisture stinky is such a high expression of our art.
Make a bit more sense, hopefully? Watch the surface aW, begin with proper moisture by managing the make, and then manage cascade and microbial community succession through humidity, temp, and wash frequency and you'll be set. Easy