Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cheese Cave

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 Gruyere.  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 12C (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!

9 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting the info. I appreciate it. I think the wine fridge is a good idea!

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  2. Yeah, that wine fridge really is a good call. Nice work Gav.

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  3. Quick question. I will soon be diving into the world of cheese making! I am very excited and am learning a lot from your blog. I do not have a cheese cave (wine fridge). Is this needed for making, say, a farm house cheddar or pepper jack? If you don't have a cave do you store the cheese in the fridge, or at room temperature in a dark closet? Any advice you can give will be appreciated.

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    1. Hi B, You could store it in the fridge, but it would take a long time to develop. When I first started, I kept my cheeses in a cool cupboard/closet. The cheese was waxed so the need for a high humidity was not an issue. However if your maturation area is warmer than 13C/55F then you should look for alternatives.

      Gav

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  4. Thanks for your blogs - very inspirational. Could you tell me how important it is to maintain a constant temperature in a cheese cave? I bought a thermostat on eBay which converts a freezer into a wine fridge / cheese cave etc. At the moment the temperature is not constant but ranges between 9C and 12C. I would like to have a go at making Camembert. Would such a variation in temperature be acceptable for this purpose?

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  5. love these posts

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  6. Hello Gavin, I have just found your site and am thoroughly enjoying it. I have just started making different cheeses and so far, they look okay, too soon to say anything about the taste!!!
    A question if I may Gavin..I have just ordered a food vacuum machine and was wondering - would there be a need to purchase a bar fridge in which to keep the cheeses or by vacuum sealing them, would I be able to use my existing fridge. The cheeses I have made so far are Brie Camembert, Caerphilly, Gorgonzola and Cream cheese - (maybe I'll need an extra fridge by the time I finish)
    Shelley (Lane)

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    1. Hi Shelly, I have answered your question in podcast episode 26. Hope it helps

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