I had a request the other day to show my cheese cave that I talk about quite often. Well, I dug up this old post (June 2009) from The Greening of Gavin, when I wrote about the day I received this vital piece of cheese making equipment.
Up until now, I have not been able to make rind cheeses like Parmesan or Gruyère. Nor have I even thought about making mould ripened cheeses like Camembert, Stilton or Gorgonzola.
That is until now! After a fair bit of discussion on my part, and much research on Kim’s part, we are now the proud owners of a Cheese Fridge. OK, I confess. It is really a wine fridge with the racks replaced so that cheese will sit on it flat! I believe that we paid $295, and unfortunately had to buy it new because we couldn’t find a cheap, economical one on eBay or in the trading post. Freecycle did have a normal fridge but it would have been too hard to change the thermostat to get it up to the temperatures required to ripen cheese.
That aside, it has the right temperature range, it is very economical using about 0.4 kWh per day (yet to measure a full day so this may be lower), and it has a nice light. I have set it to 12°C (nice cheese weather), and will check the energy statistics tomorrow night.
Being on Solar PV, I don’t expect it to be much of a strain on our resources. Kim found some powder coated racks that were laying in the cupboard which fit very well. I had to bend the ends so that they fit, but at least I can lay sushi mats down for the rind ripened cheeses and plastic mats for mould-ripened cheese to rest on.
This will allow us to make and ripen cheese all year around, and to be able to make all types of cheese and not just waxed ones. So far in the fridge we have two wheels of Pepper Jack, a Pyrenees with green peppercorns, a Wensleydale sage, half a wheel of Gouda, and a quarter of a wheel of the original Wensleydale.
As you can see I left in two bottle racks just in case I find some local Red Wine worth storing. The image below is taken without the flash on. You can see the temperature and the little LED light that you can turn on/off when necessary. I placed a normal thermometer in the fridge just to see if it was reading accurately. It is about 1 degree higher, but that could be my crappy thermometer as well.
Once the other types of cheese matures and I get a few friends to taste test, I will investigate what it will take to sell some at a local farmers market. I know I have to get a food handling certificate, but other than that I am clueless about the procedure. Of course I won’t sell it all, but it might be a bit of extra pocket-money in the future. I have a mould-ripened cheese making course on the 21st June, so the fridge arrived just in time.
Who knows where this may lead? Wallace and Gromit might come over for a visit and a nice piece of Wensleydale!
I now have a hygrometer in the cave so I can tell if it is humid enough. It works well, as does the method for increasing the humidity, but that is a post for tomorrow!