Author Topic: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler  (Read 1059 times)

Offline JustPeachy

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: Tennessee Transplant
  • Posts: 32
  • Cheeses: 7
  • Give me cheese or give me death
Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« on: May 11, 2012, 08:10:31 PM »
I've been searching until I'm nearly blind. There are so many choices I can't even decide anymore. It's becoming frustrating!

I want something that won't break the bank, that will age my future gouda, parm and havarti cheeses as well as chill a few larger (double) bottles of white wine (I enjoy life :P ). You'd think that wasn't much to ask but Geez! I don't want to have to indenture my future children to buy this thing as I'm just starting out and simply want to try my hand at a few cheeses. Yes, I know parm will take a year minimum. I'm adventurous that way, so this unit needs to have staying power. Do I need to look for a dual temp unit? I'm so lost. :(

Please point me towards something reasonable priced ($150-250 USD) that will hold/age a few good sized cheeses and a few larger bottles of white wine, hold a consistent temp and doesn't require a 2nd mortgage. Is that too much to ask?

Thank you for all the help in advance.


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Caseus

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Texas
  • Posts: 227
  • Cheeses: 5
  • Cheese is good
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2012, 08:38:44 PM »
Welcome to the forum. 

There is no perfect cooler.  And unfortunately yes, I think asking for all those things in the $150 to $250 USD range is too much.  If you had asked for proper humidity control as well, it would absolutely be too much to ask.  The biggest problem, besides inadequate humidity for cheese aging, seems to be temperature control on these small units.  If you get one that is accurate, consider yourself lucky. 

I contemplated, but didn't buy, the Danby DWC350BLP.  There are coolers from several merchants in the same general size and price range.  For cheese aging, this one has the advantage of flat wire shelves rather than the scalloped bottle-shaped shelves.  You have more usable space with flat shelves.  The shelves are also removable, which is nice.  You'll need to remove some shelves sometimes for larger cheeses or mini-caves.  Some brands don't have removable shelves.  This Danby model also has a compressor for cooling, which is generally more reliable than thermoelectric cooling.  If I were going to buy a unit of this type for dual cheese aging and wine storage, I'd probably go for this model.  However, be sure to read all the customer reviews on various sites.  Many people comment on the poor temperature control. 

I ended up buying a Danby 4.4 cubic foot small refrigerator and a Ranco ETC-111000-000 controller instead.  The DAR440BL was $179 from the Walmart online store, I believe.  I had it shipped to a local Walmart, which eliminated shipping charges.  With the Ranco controller, another $50, it was in about the same price range of the Danby 35 bottle wine cooler.  Since I had no interest in storing wine in it, the refrigerator, which reportedly had better cooling capacity, made more sense to me. 

If I'd have had space to fit another full size refrigerator for cheese aging anywhere in my house or garage, I'd have gone that route instead. 

If you go with a refrigerator, get one without a freezer.  The freezers just take up space and often bring other problems, like uneven cooling and excess condensation.

Please note that I'm not recommending the Danby DWC350BLP.  I ended up not buying it, and I've never seen one in person.  But had I decided to buy a wine cooler in that size, that is the one I'd have bought.


By the way, here is My new cave.


Also, you may find some of the links in this post useful.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2012, 08:44:32 PM by Caseus »

Offline Tomer1

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Israel
  • Posts: 1,654
  • Cheeses: 33
  • Default personal text
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2012, 06:24:40 AM »
Unfortunatlly no one "picked the tab" in terms of designing\building\modifying a fridge for the home cheesemaker (likely because the market is no there) so you need to modify one yourself (usually temp and humidity control).
Just buy the cheapest one you find that suites your space and isnt too noisy.
Amatuar winemaker,baker, cook and musician
not in any particular order.

Offline Boofer

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Parkland, Washington
  • Posts: 4,030
  • Cheeses: 177
  • Contemplating cheese
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2012, 10:25:41 AM »
Hey, JustPeachy, would you please update your profile to show where in the world you're making cheese?

What temperature do you expect your wines to be chilled to? I ask because most of the cheeses you will probably make will be aged between 45-55F (7-13C). Would that suit your wines?

Most of us here seem to have a problem after a while with diminishing cheese storage space in our caves. I would think the wines would be more comfortable in a regular refrigerator.  ;)

If you go with a refrigerator, get one without a freezer.  The freezers just take up space and often bring other problems, like uneven cooling and excess condensation.
You've been taking notes!  :)

-Boofer-
Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.

Offline Caseus

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Texas
  • Posts: 227
  • Cheeses: 5
  • Cheese is good
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 01:39:50 PM »

If you go with a refrigerator, get one without a freezer.  The freezers just take up space and often bring other problems, like uneven cooling and excess condensation.

You've been taking notes!  :)


Oh yeah!  I did a lot of reading and looked at a lot of pictures, including about yours, before I bought mine ... without a freezer.    :D


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline MrsKK

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Wisconsin
  • Posts: 1,860
  • Cheeses: 61
  • Default personal text
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2012, 10:22:43 AM »
I just posted this link in another thread:  http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod1260093&navAction=

This is a GE mini fridge without a freezer compartment and mine easily stays between 50-53 degrees Fahrenheit.  Very reasonably priced, too.

Offline Boofer

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Parkland, Washington
  • Posts: 4,030
  • Cheeses: 177
  • Contemplating cheese
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2012, 02:03:04 PM »
Almost makes me want to go get a Danby and put one (or both) of mine on Craigslist. I could use the extra space that the freezer takes up.

I think the manufacturers wised up and started building the small fridges available now without the less-than-usable freezer. They were not available years ago.

-Boofer-
Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.

Offline Cloversmilker

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Posts: 253
  • Cheeses: 16
  • Default personal text
Re: Please, Point Me To The Perfect Small Scale Cooler
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2012, 06:37:03 PM »
You can watch for wine coolers on craigslist.  I now have 2 that are each about the size of a mini frig.  They cost $100 and $120 respectively.  One maintains 45F at the warmest setting, and the other 52F at the coolest.  I've done the old-frig-with-external-control and prefer the wine coolers.  Both are packed with cheese now, and I am thinking about watching for a third.