I must say, I came to this forum specifically for this topic, and I hope to be a part of many more!
We age our hard
cheeses in a ventilated (cloth vents), windowless room that consistently remains between 49-52
(cold months) and 50-54
(warm months). If I remember correctly, the direction of the airflow within the cloth vent flows across the ceiling, from the wash-rind
end of the room to the natural-rind
, and exits through a steel vent with a drip-pan under it's fan (for humidity?). I suspect that the atmospheric humidity is, to an effect, less humid during cold seasons, as opposed to warm ones; however, I currently am not working with any other measurements other than temperature, pH, and weight.
Our wash for the natural-rind
cheeses is about .65-.85 (lb.) per 1 gallon water
, which is also added to a second container and supplemented with B. linens
for our current wash-rind variety. We use standard, small-medium kitchen rags, and none of our cheeses are cloth-bound, waxed, or sealed while in this room. We wash on a daily to semi-daily basis, and certainly make sure it is a daily wash when developing that fast mold.
When I began working early last Spring, I remember that the presence of blue
mold on the rind of our natural-rind
cheeses would form in between our daily washing routine, and would be more prevalent on more wheels as we began entering Summer. As the Summer progressed, I somehow slowed down and temporarily terminated the blue
all together, with occasional, isolated formations on one or two single wheels. It continued that way through Fall. We seemed to have hit a spike in growth, recently, but I suppose the broad weather changes through cold months have made somewhat of an impact. Moving from cold to warm surely brings in more moisture. Also, we make more of that cheese in the cold months, so perhaps the output of humidity from the increased amount of cheese entering the room should be considered? Now, the blue
forms slightly on our washed-rind
variety as well, and this is unacceptable.
We also use mold inhibitor (Natamycin
) spray separately to washing, only on the natural-rind
varieties. Here is what I want:
- Reduction, if impossible to eliminate, in blue formation frequency and amount on natural-rind cheeses, while preserving/allowing safe, diverse, slow-growing residual molds to "stain" (ideally not crust) the wheel
- Elimination of blue formation on washed-rind cheeses
- Minimal to no use of mold inhibitors
- Method of measuring and controlling atmospheric humidity
I read from another source that a wash for a similar style of hard, natural-rind
cheese should be around 6% salt per 1 gallon water (~8.43 lb.)
, which means that is ~5 lb. of salt
in the solution. Other results that do not simply state using a saturated solution are nonexistent. Will adjusting the salt amount higher help control/eliminate blue formation? And to what percentage can I allow these effects without disrupting other, let's call them: character-building molds, from slowly/gradually propagating on the wheels over several months?Is it possible to keep the cheese from growing anything, including character-building molds, by using a saturated (100%) salt solution?Are either of the previous questions possible without mold inhibitor, or would I need to use higher dosage of Natamycin, or maybe another type of mold inhibitor?What is an ideal humidity level/percentage to maintain for these styles of cheeses, and is it possible to achieve my wants through this method?