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GENERAL CHEESE MAKING BOARDS (Specific Cheese Making in Boards above) => EQUIPMENT - Aging Cheese, Caves => Topic started by: rosawoodsii on December 07, 2012, 11:10:11 PM

Title: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on December 07, 2012, 11:10:11 PM
I have about 6 cheeses at any one time, and may have more, up to 8 or 9.  I've been looking at wine coolers, but so far haven't seen any without wavy shelves.  More to the point, though, I haven't a clue how big an "8 bottle" or "12 bottle" wine cooler is, or how large a "dorm fridge" I'd need to age my cheeses. 

Would the winer coolers or dorm fridges be a better cave? 

Oh, how I wish the basement in this 200 y.o. farmhouse weren't so full of funky spores!
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Tiarella on December 08, 2012, 06:42:20 AM
I have a 44 bottle wine cooler and it is too small already.  It's difficult to have enough room I think if you are making cheese regularly and some need to age a long time.   If you did Alp's style of traditional Swiss rind you could likely get away with aging them in your funky old cellar.  For me I end up with a lot of cheese because the milk keeps coming and I have to do something with it.  it's not like I can just choose not to go buy milk and avoid making cheese.  Plus, there's so much I want to experiment with.   ^-^

I think all wine grieves have wavy racks but you can replace them with some wood slats or whatever.  Then also, good tot pay attention to area between shelf dimensions when buying mini cave boxes.  Good luck!
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: george (MaryJ) on December 08, 2012, 07:43:23 AM
Honestly?  Get a full-size fridge if you can scrape up the funds and have a place to put it.  If you get an Energy Star one, the electricity cost is minimal so you don't have to feel guilty about running it all the time if you have a cheese-making lag (speaking from experience).  I admit I was flush when I bought mine, but it's been SO worth it - I almost ran out of room in it once, even.

I have a dorm fridge in another room of the house, and I can tell you it's definitely too small for more than a few cheeses - especially if you're talking ripening containers.

This pic is from quite a while ago - cave contents are pretty sparse now 'cause I've been busy with medical stuff plus the milk supply was really low for a while - looking forward to getting back to it soon.   :)
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 08, 2012, 09:42:58 AM
rosawoodsii, I bought this 6.9 cu ft upright freezer from Best Buy for $180.00 and plugged it into a $45.00 Johnson Controls External Thermostat.  It's perfect for the amount of cheese you say you want to store and, at 56 degrees the RH remains at 85% without any help from other devices.  It has about the same footprint as a dorm fridge.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Igloo+-+6.9+Cu.+Ft.+Upright+Freezer+-+White/9605082.p?id=1218130495696&skuId=9605082 (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Igloo+-+6.9+Cu.+Ft.+Upright+Freezer+-+White/9605082.p?id=1218130495696&skuId=9605082)

http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Controls-A19AAT-2C-Temperature-Controller/dp/B0002EAL58/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354981596&sr=8-2&keywords=johnson+controls+thermostat (http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Controls-A19AAT-2C-Temperature-Controller/dp/B0002EAL58/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354981596&sr=8-2&keywords=johnson+controls+thermostat)
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on December 08, 2012, 10:02:43 AM
I know the feeling about having to do SOMETHING with all that milk!  Thankfully, during peak milk season the kids (goat kids, that is) are scarfing down most of it.  Once weaning takes place, though, usually around September, my supply of have-to-use increases markedly.

I've been toying with the idea of trying the funky cellar again.  I've been much more diligent about checking and wiping my cheeses than I was before; I doubt that I'll forget them again.  The climate is perfect: high humidity and low temperatures, hovering between 50-60°F.  I think the door and the steps to the cellar are too narrow to allow a full size refrigerator to pass through and down, and safety would be a big issue, if, indeed we could even get it through.  OTOH, that narrow one that you bought at Best Buy looks promising, if I can come up with a way to afford it. I'm going to definitely keep that in mind.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Tiarella on December 08, 2012, 10:21:28 AM
You could use the funky cellar and prep it by using an essential oil diffuser with anti mold mix for a couple of weeks and then try it out.  Build some nice shelves, make sure lighting is good and I bet it'll work really well. Oh, and a fridge in a damp place is likely to rust I think.  Not sure how damp is.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on December 08, 2012, 12:36:23 PM
You could use the funky cellar and prep it by using an essential oil diffuser with anti mold mix for a couple of weeks and then try it out.  Build some nice shelves, make sure lighting is good and I bet it'll work really well. Oh, and a fridge in a damp place is likely to rust I think.  Not sure how damp is.

Explain the "essential oil diffuser with anti-mold mix".  Which essential oils?  What would be in the mix?

The cellar maintains at least a 72% humidity level, even during dry weather, and the floor almost never gets completely dry.  I suspect that if there weren't a layer of concrete on it, it would never dry out.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Tiarella on December 08, 2012, 05:30:59 PM
I'm kind of jealous but mostly happy for you.  I think your cellar sounds perfect without a fridge so don't worry about the dampness.  Sacred Medicine Sanctuary makes a diffuser blend of essential oils.....I think if you google "Sacred Medicine Sanctuary" AND "Diffuser Blend" you'll find it.  Ingrid created it for mold remediation and I'd think it would be a nice cleansing for your place.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: H-K-J on December 08, 2012, 07:15:47 PM
Man you all suck I'm still working with coolers and ice :P
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 08, 2012, 07:22:42 PM
LOL  and getting some damn good results too!! :D
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: george (MaryJ) on December 09, 2012, 05:50:31 AM
Man you all suck I'm still working with coolers and ice :P
And you, sir, get the prize for my first giggle of the morning.   ;D
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: bbracken677 on December 09, 2012, 08:51:30 AM
I started off that way (cooler and ice) ... was quite difficult to maintain the temp so >>> hat's off to ya H-K-J!  You have done an outstanding job with your cheeses!

Fortunately I bought a minifridge that has kept me going...I gave up trying to maintain humidity in the cave (soon as you open the door the humidity drops like a rock) so I went to containers and then vac bag what I can while keeping the more recent makes or bloomy cheeses in containers.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Banjoza on December 17, 2012, 01:27:37 AM
Oh man but I am SO jealous (enjoyed your comment H-K-J!)  That basement sounds like a dream come true. Isn't that the way the cheeses were aged in the good olden days? And to have that perfect temp and humidity right there, without any extra expense or effort *sigh*
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on December 17, 2012, 08:32:44 AM
Oh man but I am SO jealous (enjoyed your comment H-K-J!)  That basement sounds like a dream come true. Isn't that the way the cheeses were aged in the good olden days? And to have that perfect temp and humidity right there, without any extra expense or effort *sigh*

I threw away two cheeses yesterday, one vacuum-packed, one waxed, that the wild molds had totally eaten through.  They were brown and crumbly and disgusting.  I wish I'd taken some pictures.  The basement sounds wonderful, but until I can get rid of the funky, corrosive molds, I can't leave anything there long term.  Although, I must say, I'm a LOT more diligent about checking and wiping down my cheeses now than I was when I made those two last year.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: xyztal on December 17, 2012, 01:01:08 PM
I got a free fridge from somebody (took me a long time to clean that sucker up because the owner basically dumps that fridge in her backyard) then brought one of those digital thermostat.  Total cost is about $80 CAD.... Don't know why but here it's very easy to find a used fridge for < $50... (through kijiji or freecycle or craiglist) I use the freezer space to store my culture (and freezer jam, frozen chicken stock etc.)
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 18, 2012, 09:06:05 AM
Not sure about where you are but you can pick up cheap used fridges here for two reasons, 1. they don't work right and, 2. it cost a lot to get rid of them due to the hazmat.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Banjoza on December 18, 2012, 01:07:50 PM
until I can get rid of the funky, corrosive molds, I can't leave anything there long term.  Although, I must say, I'm a LOT more diligent about checking and wiping down my cheeses now than I was when I made those two last year.

An uncle of mine had a mould problem in one of his commercial mushroom growing sheds and I seem to remember that eventually they solved it with some kind of chemical spraying regime.  I think it was a stronger version of chlorine bleach that they used (you have to be careful of the gas in an enclosed space). They also used steam but that may have been to neutralise the sodium hypochlorite after it had done the job. 

Forever afterwards everyone entering his sheds had to doll themselves up like surgeons in sterile gowns (which amused us little kids no end, given that the sheds were full of horse "kaka"!)

Perhaps you can disinfect your basement the same way?
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on December 18, 2012, 02:03:07 PM
An uncle of mine had a mould problem in one of his commercial mushroom growing sheds and I seem to remember that eventually they solved it with some kind of chemical spraying regime.  I think it was a stronger version of chlorine bleach that they used (you have to be careful of the gas in an enclosed space). They also used steam but that may have been to neutralise the sodium hypochlorite after it had done the job. 

Perhaps you can disinfect your basement the same way?

Since the furnace is down there, I doubt that spraying chemicals would be an option, but thanks for the suggestion.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 20, 2012, 08:52:49 PM
Have you looked into painting the room with this??   http://www.kilz.com/primer/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=e2b7d0f7a9923210VgnVCM1000006b0910acRCRD (http://www.kilz.com/primer/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=e2b7d0f7a9923210VgnVCM1000006b0910acRCRD)

On a different note, I put my Swiss back into the cave tonight.  Getting full.  Some of this will be consumed over Christmas and replaced with new cheeses.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: bbracken677 on December 21, 2012, 08:28:29 AM
Wow...that is your idea of a full cave?   haha  then mine is crammed! If I had your space I could make cheese every week for a year!   lol

I have a freezer in storage in Memphis...one of these days I need to retrieve it and convert it into a cheese cave...then I will be on cloud 9!   :)
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 21, 2012, 09:40:07 AM
Still have room for stacking BB but I'm going to have to get the vacuum sealer out before I do any more of that.  Don't want those molds spreading to the wrong cheeses.  I plan on doing a lot of hard cheeses that I can wax or seal.  Only one that will need its space is the next Stilton.  Figure it will get the bottom shelf all to its self.  Maybe with a cake cover over it to keep the molds in.  They tried to spread from my last two small ones to everything near them.  Also plan on a good chlorine wipe down before starting again to get rid of any molds that may have clung to the interior walls or shelves.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: bbracken677 on December 21, 2012, 09:44:31 AM
Oddly...I have 2 cheddars in vacuum bags that I had to take out and wipe/clean due to blue contamination. I let one roll for a while since the blue looked so nice...I figure the worst that can happen is my cheddar winds up with a bit of blue flavor on the rind...not the end of the world.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 21, 2012, 09:56:03 AM
Yeah I have already waxed my cheddar and cheshire and figured I'd do the same with the remaining hard cheeses I plan on making.  The Jarlsberg is waxed and when I recently pulled the wax off and re-waxed it it looked, and smelled, great.  Want to do a double glouchester and maybe have a shot at a cantal and a parm.  Don't think you can wax a parm but the other two should be good with it.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Banjoza on December 22, 2012, 01:40:31 PM
Your cheesie world opens up so much when you've got a cave. I really have to do something about that in January. I am getting bored with making the fresh cheeses and need to get my teeth into something more meaty. If I win the lottery the first purchase will be that ph meter too.

Al, I don't think I've heard of a Jarisberg cheese - why did you pull the wax off and re-do it?

BB - how about a photo of your cheese cave too - just to make me wild with envy!

Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: bbracken677 on December 22, 2012, 01:55:34 PM
LOL nothing special about mine....its a small fridge that I rigged the thermostat to hit 50-52 degrees. It is 50F at the top shelf and 52ish on the bottom shelf.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 22, 2012, 06:51:43 PM
Al, I don't think I've heard of a Jarisberg cheese - why did you pull the wax off and re-do it?

Jarlsberg is the Norwegian version of Swiss.  I pulled the wax off because the first time I waxed it I did it with a brush and it seemed to have a gap under the wax.  The second time I did it I had enough wax in the pot to dip it.  Cheeses look much nicer dipped than brushed.  Just takes a lot of wax to fill a crock pot to dip them.  I think I have about 8 pounds in mine now.
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Boofer on December 24, 2012, 12:53:33 AM
Jarlsberg is the Norwegian version of Swiss.
Well, not exactly. Check this. (http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,6120.msg43964.html#msg43964)

-Boofer-
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Al Lewis on December 24, 2012, 10:31:45 AM
Okay Boofer, just trying to give a quick and simple answer. LOL  I stand corrected. :-X  Actually I was using this intro as a reference.  http://www.cheesemaking.com/Jarlsburg.html (http://www.cheesemaking.com/Jarlsburg.html)
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: Boofer on December 24, 2012, 11:21:48 AM
Understand, Al. Looks like you've got the right sense of direction. That's a good clarifying link.

-Boofer-
Title: Re: How large a cheese cave do I need?
Post by: rosawoodsii on January 14, 2013, 04:19:42 PM
I've finally come to terms with the damp basement.  I cream waxed my hard cheeses, and I'm MUCH more diligent about turning them, and turning and wiping down the others that aren't waxed.  When I go to regular wax, I'm going to dispense with the red and black and use clear only, so I can see if something awful is happening under there.  It is an ideal environment both humidity- and temperature-wise.  It's just that gungy brown mold that's so awful.