Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cheese Temperature During Aging

Is temperature absolutely critical during the aging of your cheese?

Well that is today's question from Albert from Catalunya (Spain).

Albert asks;

Hello Gavin

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 a problem.

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?

It's a shame, the wine cooler was so cheap...

Thanks for your help and congratulations for your e-book
--
Albert Campsolinas
http://foratgatiner.blogspot.com/

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.


8 comments:

  1. Thank you Gavin for your amazing answer

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    1. No problem Albert. It was my pleasure.

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  2. Thanks for sharing as always Gavin. I have just started making cheese this past 6 months and so far have had success with feta and soft cheeses.

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    1. Hi Fi. That is excellent news. Do you think you will try making semi-hard next? May I suggest Caerphilly, which is easy to make and ages in three weeks?

      Gav

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  3. Hi Gavin,
    I am so thankfully that I found your blog. I have been watching your youtube videos to fine tune my techniques and to be more confident in my cheese making. I have four goats that I am milking and I'm loving the taste of the cheese. So far I have not ventured out to semi soft and hard cheeses as like Albert I am looking at a wine fridge for the storing of the cheese.

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  4. I've had the same problem with my el-cheapo wine fridge. Before Christmas I was putting ice cubes in the cave every day to keep the temp at a reasonable level, after I found it at 17oC one day. But I couldn't do that over Christmas as I was away for almost 3 weeks, so I vacuumed packed the two naked cheeses and put the lot (2xgoat tommes, 2 romanos, 1 graviera) into the regular fridge (where there were already a buterkaise, a havarti an edam and a caerphilly. Now waiting for cooler weather before I make another, but with that stockpile I guess I don't need to hurry. Oh, forgot to mention the camembert and the blue (and the feta and the halloumi...)
    In the longer term I will have to buy a better fridge - I don't think an external thermostat is the answer and the poor little thing was working its heart out but couldn't keep the temp down. At the other end of the year, in mid-winter last I turned it off as the temp. in the cave rarely got above 10oC as its in an unheated storage building.
    Margaret

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  5. hi every1 - i just found this site n like it a lot -will b so tnxfull if any1 can help m - i start making white cheese - its really gr8 , but after some days the cheese start *exploding* from inside 2 out- dunno wats the prb is - salt or ?- plz help m - tnx

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  6. For your blue cheeses you may find that the bottom shelves in the house fridge hover very close to your 7oC, apart from the time the door is open! I use a cheap little fridge/freezer thermometer ($20)that shows min/max current temp to adjust my fridge and have found quite a temp gradient as I move the sensor away from the cooling plate.

    Perhaps converting a chest freezer to a cheese cave would work well for the other cheeses. It may need a block under one end and a small drain tube to on the other stop moisture buildup (or just wipe it out once a month), but the extra insulation would mean it would run for a few minutes once or twice a day and have very even temperature. That's so little energy used its almost making power!
    Steve

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