The cheese drought has broken, and I am back in business! I have a new cheese cave.
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 for A$21.
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 cave? What did you use to control the temperature?
I know this is late but it may help others reading this post. What you want to buy is a home brewing thermostat from a lot of online or in-store home brew businesses in your area. The two predominant brands that I own and are available in Australia are the “Keg King MKII Temperature Controller” and “Inkbird ITC-308”, which is available in both wi-fi and non-wi-fi models. It allows your refrigerator or freezer to be converted into a cool environment for fermenting, or in your case maturing cheeses. Works just like the model in the above post, but they DEFINITELY conform to Australian electrical standards, as well as have a plethora of forums dedicated to home brewing discussing its use, reliability, and troubleshooting. Hopefully this helps you if you dropped cheese making because of your difficulty in obtaining a cheese cave. 🙂
hi, do you have the brand of the thermosthat you use, it’s not available anymore on little green workshops, thanks
How do you maintain the humidity at the right levels in the bar fridge?
Gavin Webber says
I use ripen boxes for mould ripened and natural rind cheeses.
Thanks for the information. I had been concerned about using a wine fridge because of the long hot summers we get here in Queensland (didn’t want fluctuations). Am going to plug my new thermostat in now and the fridge should be good for my first hard cheese effort tomorrow (fingers crossed). By the way I do enjoy your cheese making videos. You give all the details without being long winded.
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.
Andrew Smithson says
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.
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
Hi Aase. It is good that you can mature without refrigeration in winter. It would probably save a bit of money for electricity.
Albert Campsolinas says
I bought exactly the same thermostat here in Spain one year ago and it works very well!!!
Congrats for your new cave!!
Thanks Albert. It works well, doesn't it.
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
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?
Good stuff Gav,
I like that external thermostat. Do you have any details or a link to the specs?
Hi Michael. Here is the link where I bought it from on ebay; http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/JET-200-Digital-Reptile-Thermostat-0-38C-Aquarium-Brooder-Incubator-Snake-Lizard-/170829639592?pt=AU_Pet_Supplies&hash=item27c63d6fa8
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.
Great idea Adam. I could probably squeeze in two demi-jons if I take the shelves out.