Most semi-hard and hard cheeses need a constant temperature of between 10-14°C in which to mature correctly. So let’s answer some reader questions on the topic and dispense some cheese fridge tips.
This is the subject of today’s reader email. Sandra wants some information about cheese (aka wine) fridge issues.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
Addendum: Since writing this post I have moved to a better method for maturing cheese. You can read about my new cheese fridge here!