Monday, 17 February 2014

My New Cheese Cave

The cheese drought has broken, and I am back in business!

I mentioned this in my last podcast or two, but finally I saved up enough money to replace my ailing cheese fridge with a brand new small bar fridge with external thermostat.

To recap, this is the old cheese fridge.


It was just a wine fridge that worked using a thermoelectric system, which performs best in homes that are not kept much warmer than 24°C (75°F).  Unfortunately, my home get well about that, that the temperature of this unit would drift at least 10°C above what I had it set at.  This was not satisfactory for cheese making, and some cheeses even started to weep oil.  

So I had to place the two cheeses I made in early December into the normal kitchen fridge, until I saved up for a replacement.

Thankfully, that day was today.  Last week I purchased a small bar fridge for a couple of hundred dollars, and found a suitable external thermostat on eBay for A$20.  


The fridge has three racks inside and room for about 30 wheels of cheese.  More than enough, I think.


The thermostat is very basic.  Plug it into a power socket, then plug in the fridge.  Set it to cool by holding in the centre button for 4 seconds, then set your desired temperature with the SET button.  Pretty simple, although I have noticed that it sits about 1°C below its setting.


This shot shows the probe, which is the grey cable with a white probe on the end to the left.  I placed my normal hygrometer next to it to check if it was reading true.  This the display was still cooling down at the time.  I have just dangled the sensor probe through the fridge seal and tied gently to the middle rack.  Nothing too technical like drilling holes through the side of the fridge.  I wanted to keep it simple.  

This method does not seem to be affecting the temperature, as it is sitting at a comfortable 13°C now, and has been for the last hour with the fridge turned off.


Once the temperature had stabilised, I placed the two cheeses, a Romano Pepato and a Cotswold, that I had stored in the kitchen fridge.

Speaking of temperature, the weather cooled down sufficiently (24°C) on Sunday for me to make two wheels of cheese.  

It was glorious.  I felt so, so, so refreshed.  It had been over six weeks since I made cheese, and it was starting to get withdrawal symptoms. ;-)

More about the cheese I made in the next post, but suffice it to say, it was great fun running my fingers through curds and whey once again!

Have any of you recently set up a new cheese fridge/cave?  What did you use to control the temperature?


12 comments:

  1. What you also have there Gavin, when you have no cheese on, the go is a temperature controlled fermenter for your homebrew. Controlling the fermentation temp makes a big difference to the quality of the brew.

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    1. Great idea Adam. I could probably squeeze in two demi-jons if I take the shelves out.

      Cheers, Gav

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  2. Good stuff Gav,

    I like that external thermostat. Do you have any details or a link to the specs?

    Cheers

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  3. I feel you enthusiasm and thanks for the info on the external thermostat. I just have one question in regards to liquid and tablet rennet, is one better or easier to use than the other?

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  4. I find that you have better control over the rennet dose with liquid. However I still use the tablets for making quick mozzarella. Hope that helps

    Gav

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  5. Hi Gavin
    I bought exactly the same thermostat here in Spain one year ago and it works very well!!!
    Congrats for your new cave!!

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    1. Thanks Albert. It works well, doesn't it.

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  6. Hi Gavin.
    I have an older ordinary fridge, as my husband has fitted an additional thermostat in. The temperature varies between 11.4 and 12.6 C, I have attached a thermometer which also hygrometer in the inside of the door so I can always check both.
    I think it fit fine for me. When it's winter, we have an unheated room upstairs where I can put my stilton and brie. It has also been ok with about 10C ...
    Congrats with youre new cave.
    Hugs here from Denmark, Aase

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    1. Hi Aase. It is good that you can mature without refrigeration in winter. It would probably save a bit of money for electricity.

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  7. Hi Gavin, I am new to cheesemaking and was just about to buy a wine fridge for my cheese cave. do you belive this is a better option?
    How would this go through winter? would it get too cold?
    Do you still have to ad a bowl of water in the bottom to add extra humidity still?
    Thanks for your help and advice.
    Andrew

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  8. Have had a dedicated cheese fridge for a while but it has been a challenge keeping the temperature correct using the built-in thermostat. Thanks, Gavin, for the link to the 240v controller with probe - did not know about them so one has now been ordered.

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