Author Topic: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?  (Read 2498 times)

Offline chewie

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Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« on: June 28, 2012, 06:47:37 PM »
I try to search on this site but its so big, i fail to find much.  so again, very sorry if this is a btdt thread.

I am thinking to get a wine fridge/cooler for my cave.   my biggest fear is I will jsut fail at this type of cheeses and wind up having a useless appliance.

this is the type I am looking at...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VFGQ8A/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A2L77EE7U53NWQ

its still cheaper than a mini fridge with a johnson controller.   

please give some advice about all this!   I'm getting more and more confused and scared to even try by now!  but I have 2 goats making tons of milk and would just love to make more than chevre, a farmhouse type and mozz.     I am wanting to make a blue and gouda, maybe a colby or cheddar


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 07:51:10 PM »
Those work great. All you need is some type of temp control, if doing natural rind, then humidity control, too. This has integrated controller vs with an external thermostat, it's to modify an existing fridge.
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline Cloversmilker

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 09:00:07 PM »
Will a 16 bottle cooler be large enough for you? 

I have 2 wine coolers that I use as cheese caves; both are 2 to 3 times as large as the cooler you're considering.  I found them both on craigslist.  The first cost $100 and the second $120 + a wedge of gouda. 

Offline greatferm

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 10:02:43 AM »
I picked up a 12 bottle wine cooler at a thrift store for $25. Then got a combination thermometer-Hygrometer at Petco (for terrariums) and with a tray of ice cubes daily and some spraying for extra humidity, it shows about 48 degrees F. and 80% humidity this morning. Another spraying will get me to 90%.

I would go bigger next time. with room inside for an ultrasonic humidifier.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 04:35:51 PM »
Eh, if you need a tray of ice cubes, this is not working.  Believe me, you will throw away more milk and months of cheese aging work than a new fridge costs.  I wouldn't touch any of those thermo-electric units (they just stop working one day, notorious for that). Get a compressor unit.  If you can't afford a compressor unit cheese cave, get a mini fridge (like the one used in college dorms and kitchenettes). Put a controller on it and be done with it. Don't worry about moisture. You can hide a mini humidify in it. If you intend on aging different cheese types together in it, you will need to place them in separate containers anyway (to lock in humidity in those containers and halt cross-contamination from cheese to cheese). In this case, as well as the case of vacuum sealed or waxed cheese, you don't need to worry about fridge humidity at all.


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Offline chewie

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2012, 11:22:09 AM »
I found a taller dorm fridge for $50.  now waiting on my controller to arrive.    was the cheaper/biggest option, and easiest to obtain. 

I've been trying to make a couple cheeses in a cooler.   they are around a month old.   2 wheels of havarti, one tiny one of blue.   the havarti kept getting black fuzz on it, I washed it off with vinegar and salt almost daily.   I had them in gallon freezer bags in the cooler with ice packs, changed daily.

 I gave up yesterday, figured I'd 'shave' the whole outside and see what kind of science experiement I'd made--its very much like a med. sharp cheddar?!!   but now I hear eating it so soon is asking for trouble??   the one wheel had what appeared to be blue mould.   

I have my own 2 dairy goats, and use their milk raw for all my purposes.   well, yogurt gets heated hot enough to no longer be raw, but anything else is raw.   

as you can tell, i'm just getting my feet wet with this cheese making hobby, I never thuoght I'd even go this far!   eek!   so anything you can tell me, I'm listening.   this site is so big I'm having some trouble navigating it.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 12:09:17 PM »
Havarti is not a mold ripened cheese. It needs to be aged in wax or in vacuum bags. However mold wouldn't be dangerous.  Using vinegar beyond the occasional blotting of mold spots can really be bad for the flavor and aroma of the cheese and can destroy the rind that you have built on it initially when it was salted, so watch out for that.  Washing with salt and water will develop orange B.Linen eventually. Nice ...but not Havarti!  If it's out of control, you can wrap the cheese in foil and plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to age slowly.

Offline chewie

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 01:59:16 PM »
foil and plastic, ok.    but, if I eat it now, will it kill me?   I did eat some yesterday on a fajita, and it was GOOD.   since I'm still here and not praying to the porcelain god, I am assuming its ok??

I didn't mean to get any mould on it at all, just happened since I was using a cooler instead of a better set up.   just surprised it came out like it did.   

Offline Nellie

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 04:43:52 AM »
Hi Chewie. It never ceases to amaze me how resilient some cheese are I find Havarti is a great standby cheese.

Offline Margo McIntosh

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 06:00:14 AM »
I've only been making cheese for a year and have been making mostly gouda and farmers cheddar.  They age beautifully in my wine fridge.  I use a bowl of water with a tea towel dipped in it and draped across the bottom of the fridge to keep the humidity up around 75/80.  My fridge stays at 50 degrees easily.  I can lower it to 48 and raise it to 55 if need be.  Haven't used a ripening box in it yet but I've venturing out of my comfort zone into making some other raw milk cheeses so will be trying that shortly.  My wine fridge has flat shelves and is about 2x the size of the one you picture from Amazon.  My caution would be that too small a fridge will limit you to not being able to store too many cheeses at once and if aging cheddars a year or more you will be full too quickly.


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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2012, 04:48:00 PM »
It's been a few more days and you are still here. Okay, you past my theory test.

No, I kid. Seriously, Cheese love molds. We love moldy cheese. Not all molds belong on all cheese, and if they don't, they are mostly nothing more than unpleasant to eat and nuisance which shifts your cheese off target.  In some miraculous way it seems very rare to find molds that are within their toxin production envelope in the environment of aged cheese.  Many of the same molds that you find on cheese, when grown elsewhere (on your walls or on fruits, etc) are able to produce toxins, but in the cheese environment they don't do that. Penicillium Roqueforti is perhaps the most well known example of a mold that can produce aflatoxins and mycotoxins -it just can't do that in cheese.

Offline BethGi

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 05:51:17 AM »
When I decided to invest in a 'cave' and couldn't afford/justify the controller, I opted for a larger dorm-style refrigerator with no ice compartment (critical in controlling temp, which I found after borrowing a friend's small refrigerator before that).

I bought an inexpensive programmable timer which can cycle on and off about 10 times a day, and I am able to keep the temp within a 5-10 degree window. Not perfect, but certainly better than other means.

I am finally at the point I can justify the controller, but haven't yet made the leap.

Offline Kaiser Soze

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2012, 01:02:37 AM »
Probably far too late to help the OP, but maybe useful for someone later reading this thread...

I have a peltier cooled wine fridge, which works fine. It's been running for years now, and rarely has an issue (sometimes it fails to cool unless you recycle the power, but I walk past it regularly, so I notice it before it's too late). Electronic controls allow me to adjust temps between 11*C and 18*C, but it doesn't get lower than that, which may be an issue. I haven't made loads of cheese, mainly farm cheddars and the like, so 11*C has been fine.

One issue with peltier cooled fridges is that they have a cooling limit of around 10*C from ambient, so mine sits in the house and is able to keep 11*C when the house is around 21*C. Hot summer days mean that the temps in the fridge are slightly warmer, and there's no way that it can sit in the shed.

On the plus side, there's no need to buy an external controller, and I've found that the humidity in the fridge generally sits around 70-75%. I started with bowls of salt water in the bottom of the fridge but eventually these dried up and the fridge still keeps high humidity. Not sure how. I've calibrated the hygrometer, too, so I'm pretty confident that it's accurate.

Anyway, just my 2c.

Offline puttertat

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2012, 06:32:11 PM »
This is all very comforting to read, as I was wondering if my wine cooler would work for cheese.  Camembert is probably one of my favorites, well, besides St Andre, and Cambozola, and Roquefort, and, well, never mind, but Camembert seems to be a pretty basic cheese to make, so I'll probably try that next. You all have me feeling daring!

Offline TAMARA

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Re: Wine Fridge As Cheese Cave - Advice?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 06:19:09 PM »
Been away from the forum for a while and just saw your question re wine cooler. Looks like you've had plenty of advice but just wanted to add mine.
I am a small commercial cheesemaker (very recently licensed) and I have been using a 112 bottle wine cooler for the past year. It has 2 distinct zones which can be kept between 5c and 15c so perfect for cheesemaking. I keep them both at about 10c (50f approx) and when full of ripening cheese, the cooler keeps humidity up around 85-90. When not so full, i add water in a basin down the bottom. I've also used ripening boxes left ajar, just to ensure that the air stays humid as I am not sure of the humidity readout. I've had great results with brie/blues/goat pyramids etc and while I have now had to expand into 3-door drinks fridges, i've reserved my wine cooler only for blues and it seems to be very successfuly.

For the record, the air in the drinks fridges is more of an issue as the compressor is so effective at removing moisture, so i am using the same methods discussed above but all cheese is in ripening boxes as well.

I hope that helps,

TAMARA