Author Topic: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold  (Read 1846 times)

Offline BethGi

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I made (what was) a lovely cheddar three weeks ago, and decided to follow some advice from this forum and allow it to age without vacuum sealing for a few weeks. I turned it, and oiled it, and about a week ago saw some signs of mold. So I rubbed it with salt to remove, oiled again (as it was looking dry), and re-boxed into the cave.

I neglected the cheese for two days over this past weekend (shame on me) and discovered it in a rather sorry state. (First picture below.) Yikes!

So I did more salt rubbing and tried really hard to not destroy the rind. I then put on a light dressing of lemon juice. It is now 'cleaned up' (second photo below) -- so I think I am going to vacuum seal it after allowing it to dry a bit. I keep my house in the mid-60s so have left it out to do so.

But here is my question. Clearly the aging container was too damp inside, but opening it would likely spread the mold spores throughout my cheese cave (actually a mini-fridge that is cycled to keep the temps in the zone). But there is a lot written about using aging containers rather than just leaving open in the cave. So what's with that? Why put in a box if it is going to get too damp? And how does one control this without constantly opening and closing the container?

I am also tempted to slice my wheel in two before bagging. That way I can see a cross section and really examine if some of the mold has dug in further. Are there any downsides to doing this? I realize that then eaves a partial cheese without a rind on one side -- would this promote any embodied moisture leaking into the bag?


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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 05:33:35 PM »
From your text and pictures I believe you are correct that your ripening box humidity is too high.

Blue mold is in the wild, that said if you are concerned about spreading it then I would wash and clean your ripening container before reusing.

People use ripening boxes to create a localized very high humidity environment, commonly for bloomy cheeses like white or blue, and in general crack the lid to adjust humidity.

Yes you could cut before vacuum bagging, but from the tight rind you have I doubt the blue has bloomed inside, even if their are gaps in the middle. In general you will lose any dehydrated dry rind during vacuum bagging as the rinds and the pate come to a new moisture equilibrium. Cutting should not promote excess free moisture, unless your cheese is still very young (2-3 days) and throwing off moisture.

Question, my small fridge cave has excess humidity with puddles of water building in drip tray beneath freezer compartment, are you sure the RH in the fridge is too low for your cheese to be outside the ripening box?

Just my 2 cents, hope helps.

Offline BethGi

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Re: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 06:07:20 AM »
Thanks, John. That's very helpful.

My 'fridge cave doesn't have a freezer compartment, so I keep a small glass of water in it. Probably would have been okay without the box.

I also appreciate the guidance on the cutting. Based on that I won't do so!


Offline Boofer

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Re: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 08:21:47 AM »
Are there any parameters for aging cheddar? Optimal temp & humidity?

I don't have any significant moisture in my cave. What does appear, I wipe up, but the inside stays pretty consistent around 88%RH. I do a nanny check on my babies at least twice a day which airs the cave out a little. The picture shows a Tomme that is aging open-air in the cave at 54.1F/90% as I type at 6:12AM. The minicave below it contains a Beaufort that has its lid cracked. It pretty much pegs my humidistat at 54.3F/99%. Neither cheese is going crazy with unintended infections.

I have had cheeses that did get too much moisture and the rind did do wild things. That's the real reason that the Tomme in the pic is not in a minicave in the cave. For the record, the Tomme has mold, yeast, and bacteria available to infect anything around. So far, it has not...and I have a laptop cooler in the back of the cave circulating the air.

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Offline BethGi

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Re: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 11:26:27 AM »
Good info...I will work on how I set up my cave storage a bit. What are you using as a mat below the cheeses? Obviously, if they are on a refrigerator rack, that is nice and open, but if they are sitting in a box, then the substrate becomes more of an issue. I think I recall someone (perhaps Sailor?) having a photo of a rack built into the boxes he was using for aging.

Well the cheese cracked a bit overnight, but has received a nice bath of some olive oil, and I plan to vacuum bag it after today. On to the next challenge!

Cheers, all, for the aging advice.


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Offline Boofer

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Re: Aging Containers - Hummidty Regulation To Avoid Unwanted Surface Mold
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 05:30:24 PM »
Not too long ago, Sailor did a piece covering the construction of a ripening box for, I think, cams and other high-humidity cheeses. That same design would probably be just fine for other cheeses as well.

I've got a Rubbermaid sink mat cut down to fit my minicave. On top of that I have a finer grid plastic material for the cheese to rest on. Steve, at The Cheesemaker, sells some stuff like it. I'm using his stuff in other minicaves.

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