Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cheese Fridge Tips

Most semi-hard and hard cheeses need a constant temperature of between 10-14°C in which to mature correctly.


This is the subject of today's reader email.  Sandra wants some information about cheese (aka wine) fridge issues.

Hi Gavin,

Could you please tell me the Brand of Wine Fridge you purchased for your Cheeses?

Have you had any problems with the thermostat in it holding a constant temperature – summer and winter?

I have been having lots of problems with the Tempo 16 Bottle Wine Fridge I bought. I am on my second Tempo Wine Fridge in two years. After 6 months the thermostats start floating all over the place – mostly too hot – hence ruining my cheeses.

I mostly make Camembert, Blues, Farmers and Swiss cheeses.

I would appreciate your help.
Sandra 
Well firstly, thank you Sandra for your email.  I enjoy answering each and every one of them from my readers.

The model of my cheese fridge is a 28 bottle wine fridge, similar to yours.  It is made by PAVO (I have no association with this company).  I have no idea if it is good, bad, or otherwise.  It has worked tirelessly for the 3.5 years that I have owned it.

That said, I have discovered some interesting things about how to maintain the temperature of these devices.  They are not really fridges at all, and do not employ normal refrigeration techniques.  This type of fridge is a thermoelectric wine cooler and only uses 70 watts.

These type of fridges need a room temperature of below 75°F to function correctly.  They also need adequate ventilation, and lots of room behind it so that it works effectively.  My cheese fridge has about 30 cm (1 ft) clearance all around the sides and back.  It is also located away from any heat sources like other fridges, ovens, stoves, etc.

I also keep a remote temperature and relative humidity sensor inside the fridge, just to keep an eye on it when I am at my desk.

The final tip is about humidity.  These sorts of fridges normally keep the air inside at about 40-50%  RH, which is far too low for cheese making.  I have found that by filling a 4 litre plastic tub with water and placing on the floor of the fridge, it brings the humidity up to about 75%RH.  This is still a bit low for most cheese, so I keep blue and mould cheese in a separate container to ripen which ensures a much higher humidity.

I can ripen cheese like Caerphilly and Farmhouse for the first month, then wax them before they split.

You can also repurpose an old kitchen refrigerator using an external thermometer device.  A long time reader sent me through this information.
Hi Gavin

I don't know if you're familiar, but there is an item that can transform a normal fridge to a cheese cave level. I've read blogs from people here in the US who use them and they say they work well. I haven't read enough of your blog to know If you've seen them before, if so I'm sorry, but I thought if not, you might be interested. I got this off of the Cheesemaker.com website:

JC Thermostat
Turn your refrigerator or freezer into a cheese cave.

This thermostat makes it easy to convert your refridgerator or freezer into a 'cheese cave'. Just plug the thermostat into your wall socket. Then plug your freezer or refridgerator into the thermostat and adjust the thermostat anywhere from 20-80f degrees.(6.6 to 26.6c).Accuracy: +or- one degree F. 110-120V AC. UL listed. This thermostat does not work with 220v.

I've attached the picture that went with the description in the attachment. Perhaps you can locate it's Australian equivalent and share it with your readers. Thanks again. Look forward to reading more of your blog!

Sharon
Here is a picture of the thermostat.




Hopefully, I have given you and all other readers enough information to make your cheese maturation a reality with one of these fridges.

If anyone else has any other tips for maintaining the correct temperature in your repurposed wine fridge, please leave a comment.


12 comments:

  1. I use the JC thermostat to control the temperature in a chest freezer that I use for fermenting beer (35-55 F). The controller works great for this purpose. I also have a second one that I plan on using to operate a HERMS device for my mashing system.

    Mathias.

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    Replies
    1. Nice. I will have a go at a full mash soon. I have only tried kit beers, which great success mind you, until now. Maybe it is time to progress.

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  2. An even better temperature controller that I use (I have 5) is called the STC1000. They can be delivered for just under AU$20 via ebay (Seller: itechcool) product number
    140759751376- Aquarium Tank STC-1000 Digital LCD Temperature Controller Regulator Thermos
    It does require a little wiring but anyone who has basic wiring skills will have no issues. It is used by most of the homebrewers as it has plugs for both heating and cooling (use a heatbelt, lizard heat pad or a simple globe to provide heat, and plug cooling to your fridge). It also has delays to prevent damage to your compressor (turning it on and off too often).
    I am happy to provide links regarding the wiring, which takes 5 mins to complete.

    I use it for my beer fermentation and cheese fridges and have never heard of any failures.

    Regards,

    Reuven
    reuven_segal@iprimus.com.au

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    Replies
    1. Hi Reuven. Thanks for the link. Sounds like a great setup you have there.

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    2. Thanks. I found a supplier in Adelaide who sends them out (postage included interstate) for only $23. Arrives in only a couple days. Better than waiting a few weeks/month for it to arrive from overseas.

      http://brewadelaide.com/retail/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=32&products_id=354

      Heard good reports about the supplier too.

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  3. Hi Gavin, love your cheese blog. I wish I had time to make the amount of cheese you do.....but just wanted to say that I also use a thermostat to adjust an old fridge into a cheese cave. Yes, you still need a bowl of water in the base...but I find it works very well. You can see mine here....
    http://justlikemynanmade.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/making-cheese-cave-at-home.html
    Regards
    Narelle

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    Replies
    1. Hi Narelle, nice to hear from you. Nice cheese cave. I do need to make some more myself, because I haven't made some for a month due to the cheese making workshops. This weekend, I plan to make a double batch of Caerphilly for the festive season. Lovely on a cheese platter with a cold Rose. x

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  4. I use an STC1000 too, great little domestic option, I've pimped mine with a few extra bits and bobs. http://cheesesolidarity.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/itll-all-come-out-in-the-wash/

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  5. Hi Gavin
    I recently bought a little wine fridge with a compressor, not thermoelectric, and I have a problem: If I will work at 11ºC for example, it stars cooling since this temp., ok, but after, the internal thermostat stops, and the fridge don't starts cooling since the temp. arrives to a 14ºC or 15ºC. Like this, I don't have a constant temp. so my cheeses will be always between 11 and 14 or 15. I will ask you if this is a real problem or is not very important. Do I have to buy an external thermostat with more accurate temps?
    Thanks for your help, and sorry if my english is not good.
    Best Regards from Catalunya

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  6. hello
    I have often used a air conditioner thermostat in used refrigerators to
    repurpose as wine cooler and cheese ager

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  7. Hi i use one of these for my home brew fridge its plug and play and requires no wiring mines still going strong after about six months considering my fridge cost $50 Im pretty happy!
    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/zhoulei2278/m.html?hash=item256d2740e9&item=160745079017&pt=AU_Pet_Supplies&_trksid=p4340.l2562

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  8. Instead of adding a thermostat, I got a couple of screwdrivers and took a good look at my fridge's thermostat. I found a tiny adjusting screw. Turning it anti-clockwise raises the set point. It is now sitting at around 12.5C.

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