Adventures in Cheesmaking

This all started out as a curiosity. Like most stuff we eat there is a rich history behind it. Centuries of experimentation. Cheese is just another example.

From the horse back tribes of the Asian Steppes to the Silk Road camel caravans to Romans Legions to European Monks to today, milk was a great source of nutrition but spoiled quickly and was heavy to transport.

The answer was cheese.

Cheese Caves and Ageing

If you want to make cheese you need somewhere to age it. I live in the south of the US so cold damp caves don't tend to feature in many back yards. Basements also won't work. There has been plenty written about conversion of refrigerators, such as a dorm fridge with a thermostat controller but these are normal around $70+. Before you do that take a thermometer and do a bit of experimenting.

Temperature conversion tool  for F to C

In my case I had a few different refrigerators in the house and each, like all refrigerators have different zones. After some measurement I found a few zones. The ones you are looking for are a low 45-55 F 10C and a higher 55-65F 15 C zones. In those zones you can control humidity as necessary with storing the cheese in plastic containers or plastic bags.

Bar fridge - set on its lowest (highest temp) setting it held the body of the fridge at 5-7 C
Main Kitchen fridge - vegetable crisper 12 C

To build a cave within the temperature control zone use a plastic container, even a plastic zip lock bag will work. In my case a tupperware high top container worked well with a small container with some water to keep the humidity high.

In this way with a variety of plastic containers and different zones to choose from, you can produce and age a variety of cheeses.

There are a few key temperatures you are going to need based on  the type of cheese you want to age.

- first stage ageing 10-15 C at 85%-95% Relative Humidity
- second stage ageing 5-7 C at 80%

- Sharp acidic English styles  12-20 C
- Mild Midwester styles 10C

- 10-12C