Is temperature absolutely critical during the aging of your cheese?
Well that is today’s question from Albert from Catalunya (Spain).
I’m Albert, from Catalunya (Spain, for the moment…) and I read your
cheese blog since one year ago (sorry if my English is not correct).
I’m trying to age my cheeses as correctly as I can, so I bought recently a
little wine cooler http://www.carrefouronline.carrefour.es/noalimentacion/TemplateProduct.aspx?itemMarcado=catalog310010&strands=true&itemId=117701082(it
works with a compressor, is not a thermoelectic with fan ) and I think there is
Example: When I put their temp. to 9º C it starts to cool until 9º
C, ok, but after it doesn’t starts cooling again since the temp. arrives to a
14º or 15º C. In this case I don’t have a constant temperature, I only have a
temperature going up and down again and again from 9º to 14ºC.
So, the question
is: is it a serious problem? Do I need an exactly constant temperature? Do I
need an external thermostat who gives me a more accurate range of temps?
a shame, the wine cooler was so cheap…
Thanks for your help and congratulations for your e-book
Well Albert, I believe that the answer is quite a simple one. No, your minor temperature range will not matter at all for maturing semi-hard and hard cheeses.
|My Cheese Fridge shut down for the Summer|
Cheese has been made for many thousands of years without refrigeration, in various temperature conditions, so I don’t think it will matter much. As long as it stays cool, the cheese culture will do its magic and convert the remaining lactose into lactic acid and give the cheese whatever the desired flavour is and get stronger with age. With that said, if the fridge gets above 14º C and if you do not want to buy a new one, try an external thermostat as you have suggested.
I recently had to move all of my maturing cheese into the normal refrigerator, because my thermoelectric wine fridge could not keep it cool enough due to the extreme heat we are having here in Australia at the moment. I may need to convert an old kitchen fridge with the aid of an external thermostat as well!
So, if you want a consistent result and want each cheese to taste almost exactly the same, you would have to emulate factory like precision and keep the temperature constant with very little variation +/- 1º C. But then, what would be the fun in that, as people would just buy store bought cheese and not make their own. Making cheese at home is all about the excitement, anticipation, and experimentation–within reason–so if it tastes good, then there is no problem.
The only exception regarding temperature range, that can think of and that I could be cautious about, would be mould ripened cheese like Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, Stilton, and any other type of blue. From experience, these types of cheese need very specific low temperatures (around 7ºC) or the mould gets out of control and you do not get the desired taste. I prefer to ripen these in a normal refrigerator at around 4ºC. Much lower than recommended I know, and it takes a bit longer to age this way, but it does work and I get a much better result.
Remember that this is just my opinion gained from experience, and cheese purists may answer your question differently.
Hope that helps you and other amateur cheese-makers out there trying to make cheese for the first time.
Has anyone else had a similar experience they would like to share and add to the answer? Feel free to leave a comment as your views will be more than welcome.