Author Topic: Cave Selection Advice Please  (Read 1897 times)

Offline avaserfi

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Cave Selection Advice Please
« on: June 09, 2009, 03:32:02 PM »
So, I am thinking about getting into hard cheeses. Of course that means I need a place to age them. I have read about cohabitation issues with mold/waxed/natural rind cheeses and am at a slight loss. I will only have funds and space for one smaller unit (debating between a wine cooler or mini fridge) to hold my cheese creations. On top of that I was wanting to occasionally use it for some charcuterie such as drying of meats prosciutto because, often, the required temperature and high humidity are complimentary in both crafts.

Would meat/cheese and varying cheese type cohabitation be an issue? Is there anything I can do to avoid such issues if they are present?

Also, any suggestions on what to look for in a cave? Also are there any preferences between a minifridge or wine cooler? I will probably be buying used and don't want anything too massive. I figure I will have to use a bowl of salinated water with a towl in it to keep humidity at decent levels (BTW any recommendations on a good digital hygrometer/thermometer?).

Any other tips/pointers would be greatly appreciated as well!


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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2009, 05:19:29 PM »
Cheese Cave design is an ongoing discussion here in the group.
I would recommend using the search feature here to gain a deeper understanding of the relevant conversations to date.

In general,  a mini-fridge, or any spare fridge will do fine, as long as you use a  custom thermostat to raise the temp, and control humidity.

I would specifically recommend against using any freezer or fridge that has its evaporator coils inside the refrigerator box.  That raises humidity to around 100%.

In terms of combining this with other items, keep in mind that each will take on the properties of the other (to an extent).  So if you store a Camembert with Swiss, you may get fuzzy cheese with holes in it.  ;)

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Offline avaserfi

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2009, 08:53:46 PM »
Thanks for the tips. I have been poking around the site, but some of the discussions are a little old - I didn't know if anyone had some revelations over time.

I am very familiar with temperature controls - I keep a digital ranco hooked up to my keezer (I hate analog). It costs about the same if you are willing to wire it yourself.

As far as cross contamination goes - I just wasn't sure if anyone had managed to isolate one product (cheese or other) from others with tupperware or by other means... I was thinking of keeping one type of cheese in tupperware while the other was more free. Perhaps rotating meats and cheese or at least experimenting with forms of protection. Guess it isn't too common.

Offline Sedona

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2009, 02:55:08 PM »
Wayne,
I need to order today a Refrigerator Thermostat. I purchased a bigger cave (a freezerless refrigerator) and i been having a big problem with the temperature control. I don't had that problem with my smaller cave. It's driving me crazy because i don't wanna loose all the cheeses i made. You posted a link and so did Debi, is that Johnson Control Refrigerator Thermostat pretty good?  Do you own one like that?
Thanks, Sedona

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2009, 04:30:41 PM »
Sedona, my understanding is that some fridges thermostat's don't have the range to go to the higher temps we need for cheesemaking.

It's a just a bad luck thing and sounds like you got caught?

I have a Johnson Controls external analog thermostat that is popular. I bought it from NortherBrewer.com in USA. Works great although mines not in service right now. Some people use I think a digital one, but I just trust my thermometer in the fridge and set the dial for that. The copper sensor and tube is delicate and goes in the fridge.


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Offline Sedona

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2009, 05:46:08 PM »
Thanks John, i will order that one today. Oh boy that new cave is something else. One tiny touch and the temp goes to 44 f ~~ and vise versa up to 60 f
That's absolutely not good for the cheese.
Sedona







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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2009, 10:14:56 PM »
Sedona

I have used mine (an older analog) for about 4 years in my sausage cave (which died a few months back) with no problems at all. Johnson Controls are very good reliable products. Good luck with your new cave.

Offline Sedona

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2009, 05:45:28 PM »
Debi, i ordered one last night. Hope i get it this week.

Sedona




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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2009, 10:13:07 PM »
They are easy to adjust and work well good luck with your cave.

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 04:30:53 PM »
As for cross-contamination, if you were to tupperware one cheese, wouldn't that affect its humidity?
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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 05:28:45 PM »
Tom, if you seal a cheese in a Tupperware box, the humidity will go to 100% and you'll get many unwanted molds. That's why many use plastic boxes but crack them to regulate humidity. Cross contamination isn't much of an issue unless making White Mold or worse, Blue Mold cheeses as they especially the Blue really want to dominate.

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2009, 04:40:55 PM »
Tom, if you seal a cheese in a Tupperware box, the humidity will go to 100% and you'll get many unwanted molds. That's why many use plastic boxes but crack them to regulate humidity. Cross contamination isn't much of an issue unless making White Mold or worse, Blue Mold cheeses as they especially the Blue really want to dominate.

Yeah, actual molds (white or blue) were my major concern.  My wife is allergic to -cilliums and I would hate for a bit of penicillium to contaminate other foods/cheeses.

After reading almost everything in this forum, I have two cheese cave questions:
1) Temperature control seems easy.  Either use an external control (I saw the Johnson Control) or purchase a fridge that has a wider range of temperatures (which is why wine fridges seem to be a easy choice).
2) Humidity control seems to be the most difficult part that everyone struggles with.  It seems to be more of a manual process (using a hygrometer for measurement, of course)?
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Offline Sedona

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2009, 06:57:19 PM »
Debi, John & Wayne,  last week i got the thermostat and my husband installed it for me. Wow i'm impressed what a different it makes, the temp stays just right how i like it.  :)

Sedona


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2009, 07:33:12 PM »
They're really great you';; be happy with it.

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Cave Selection Advice Please
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2009, 07:40:17 PM »
Awesome news.  Good luck with it....
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