Author Topic: The trouble with linens  (Read 600 times)

Offline JimSteel

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The trouble with linens
« on: March 17, 2014, 04:27:06 PM »
Having some issues with my washed rind Port Saluts since a mold bloom in my cave a few months ago(left town for a month).  The cave smells nasty now and I've tried washing it out twice.

Anyway, I've noticed a trend in my cheeses in that they are getting harder and harder to develop a linens rind on.  I am following very similar procedures to those I have in the past, but am getting much worse results.  It seems other invaders always get a hold of the surface and the linens can't flourish.  The cave smells like really strong mold.

This cheese smells the same, but also a bit yeasty.  There are man blemishes of different types on the surface and the rind is "wrinkling" in a few places as well.  I am unable to identify any of the perpetrators.

Here's some background:
I keep the cheeses in a ripening container in my cave, sometimes with the lid popped open a bit.  so they are exposed to the cave air from time to time.
I wash with a 5%-8% brine with linens added.  (just a speck.  will adding more help to resolve this?)
I wash once per day.  Recently I have been washing both sides every day, hoping to develop a good linens(is this actually counter intuitive?).  In my earliest cheeses I had washed one side each day.
My cave maintains between 80% and 90%RH, but the sealed ripening containers often have moisture build up when I check them (once daily)

I am just getting frustrated because I used to be able to make excellent linens rind with ease, now I am having 0 luck.

P.S. the cheese looks a lot more orange in this picture than it actually is.  It is more of a pale yellow.


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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2014, 06:08:03 PM »
Hi Jim,

I sympathize with your pain.  It's frustrating when things seem to be going well and then, unexpectedly, take a turn south.  Hmm, wrinkly rinds often indicates geo, which is quite abundant naturally.  Perhaps that's the culprit?  Could it be that something in the cave's cooling system, or air cirulation, etc, is harboring spores, so that wiping it down isn't going to get them?  I'm sure you'll get some input and suggestions.  I'll be watching this space as well.

- Jeff
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Offline JimSteel

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2014, 08:07:16 PM »
The cave is just a beverage cooler, no air circulator and only a cooling "panel" on the back.  It's possible something is keeping a tight hold in some of the crannies.

Offline JeffHamm

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2014, 12:19:33 AM »
Do you mean a chilly bin, like put ice in it take it to the beach type thing?  The plastic sides in them are probably a bit porous, and the mould/smell has taken a hold in the plastic.  You might need to clean it with a strong bleach solution, but even that might not work.  You could try and fill it with water and pour in bleach maybe, let it sit 24 hours? - need to store your cheese somewhere else during that period, but temporary at least.  Maybe you could pick one up cheep at Canadian Tire before summer hits?

- Jeff
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Offline JimSteel

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2014, 08:10:51 PM »
No, like a wine fridge, but it doesn't go to very low temperatures.  I have not bleached it yet.  My wife is very against the stuff, but I think I am out of options.


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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2014, 08:19:34 PM »
Sounds like it does need a pretty complete cleaning.  Something's got a hold in there somewhere.  Could be mould has gotten into the walls, or along the edges, etc.  Might require a complete shut down, air it out (door open, etc) and make sure the inside completely dries out.  Then, give it a good clean with some anti-mould/anit mildew cleaner and let it dry out again.  Vac-seal or wax your pressed cheeses and keep them in the regular fridge until the cave is sorted.  All it will do is slow down the aging process for a few days, and won't hurt them any. 

- Jeff
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Offline John@PC

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 08:27:35 AM »
No, like a wine fridge, but it doesn't go to very low temperatures.  I have not bleached it yet.  My wife is very against the stuff, but I think I am out of options.
I've used sodium percarbonate with success.  It's part of the stuff in Oxy-Clean, but you can buy it pure.  It's safe to use and when it dissolves it turns into  hydrogen peroxide.    For that matter, I don't know why you couldn't just buy some cheap peroxide at the drug store and use it.  Still may not be as effective as chlorine bleach.

« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 08:46:31 AM by John@PC »

Offline JimSteel

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2014, 04:45:43 PM »
I bleached my fridge to the nines.  If that doesn't work I'm out of ideas, short of putting a piece of weapon's grade uranium in there for a day or two.

I let it dry out and bleached it, rinsed it, let it dry, rinsed it two more times.  Sure doesn't smell like mold anymore.

Since I'm focusing only on washed rind  and waxed varieties, I'm going to try to introduce some linens now.  I have a Port Salut air drying which will be heavily linens washed and put in the fridge.  I want to see if a heavy concentration of linens and the new environment provide better results.

Before the mold bloom, my fridge smelled like linens.  I would like to return it to this state.

Offline JeffHamm

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2014, 04:27:36 PM »
Fingers crossed!  Not sure what else you could do. 

- Jeff
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Offline John@PC

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 05:01:45 PM »
Fingers crossed!  Not sure what else you could do. 
After I saw Jim's post I started thinking about alternatives and came up with a crazy revolutionary idea: If you can pasteurize milk why can't you "pasteurize" your cave?   I'm not a mycologist, but I do know  mold and mold spores are killed by dry heat so I thought I would do an experiment.  I took my cheese out and unplugged the fridge.  Put a lamp a 100 watt incandescent bulb inside and set my two-stage temperature controller to 140F  :o :o :o.  I have a 21 cu. ft. frost-free fridge in an unheated garage.   It was in the 50's in my garage but I was able to get my cave up to 139F overnight (not bad for a 90F differential from inside to outside).  I left the light in for another day to finish my low-temperature pasteurization  :)) and did a temperature check this morning.  Temperature of the fridge inside surfaces ranged from 120F (bottom) to 150F.  No problems as these temps are below anything that would damage the fridge, but the heat didn't transfer up to the freezer very well, as it was only 100 deg.  I opened the doors and once it cools down I'll put my cheeses back in.  I have no way to tell yet how effectively it killed the mold, but I do know it had a very nice "new refrigerator" smell when I opened it.  We'll see (fingers crossed as well, Jeff ;))


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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2014, 09:50:08 PM »
I'm going to give you a cheese for just being so darn clever!  That's a great idea, even if it doesn't work in this particular case it's a great idea! 

- Jeff
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Offline JimSteel

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2014, 11:05:49 AM »
Neat idea John.  Is 120-150 enough to kill off the baddies that may rest within?  Boiling water is 232 (correct me if my American temperature standards are not up to par) so I'm wondering.  Did a quick search and couldn't find anything conclusive.  In any case the "new fridge smell" you've achieved sounds like a good starting point anyway. 

All else failing, I think we may have something here. "New fridge smell" air fresheners to hang in the fridge.   We could make millions.

Offline dthelmers

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2014, 03:44:47 PM »
I think that many who sanitize with bleach make a mistake by using too much bleach, which raises the pH of the cleaning solution. This makes the bleach no longer able to kill the mold, just bleach its hair. The correct proportion is 3 tablespoons to five gallons of water. At this concentration it does not smell bad. I also add 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar after I have made the bleach solution, This makes a VERY effective sanitizer. DON'T add the vinegar until you have added all the water; vinegar and bleach do not play well together.
Dave in CT

Offline John@PC

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Re: The trouble with linens
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2014, 05:19:20 PM »
Thanks Jeff and Jim.  I'll issue a follow up if it did make a difference in mold development.  Dave in CT probably has the best and most effective "solution".   Then again I like the "new fridge" air freshener idea (I'll get the PC elves working on that).   In the meantime a pan of Arm-n-Hammer does a decent job.

Jim, all I know different molds (and mold spores) can survive at different temperatures.  What gave me the idea to try the heating method was this company's info, and they do have some tables for killing different molds.  I couldn't find good data on our "cheese" molds but I'm sure there are someone here who could advise.