Are you ready to make some aged cheeses but don’t quite know how to build a “cheese cave?” Here are some quick tips and suggestions.
Most cheeses age best at a temperature of around 50-55 degrees – much warmer than a regular refrigerator but much cooler than your average room temperature. There are several ways you can achieve this temperature goal without digging into a hillside:
One of the most effective pieces of cheese aging equipment is a dorm, mini or wine refrigerator. Some of the more expensive models of mini fridges may have an actual temperature control, but for those that don’t, usually the warmest temperature setting will help you achieve this 50-55 degree goal.
For a more precise temperature, you can pair a mini fridge (or even a full-sized refrigerator) with a temperature controller. These are little gadgets that include a probe on a wire that you put into the refrigerator, and then you plug the fridge into the controller and plug the controller into the wall. The unit has a temperature control that can be set to your desired temperature and the controller will then cycle the refrigerator on and off to maintain this fairly precise temperature. You can find these controllers online for as little as $40-50.
Some home cheesemakers have a space in a basement, garage, root cellar, or spare bedroom (during the winter) that maintains a temperature of approximately 50 degrees. By using containers to keep your cheese clean and safe from pests, you may be able to convert these spaces into aging “caves” as well. (See our post on aging boxes.) These simple containers not only create a closed environment to keep your cheese safe and clean, but they also can assist in keeping humidity levels high in cheeses that require that (think mini terrarium)!
Ready to tackle some aged cheeses? It takes a little practice and experimentation to get it right, but the best way to learn is to just do it. Even if your aged cheese doesn’t turn out perfect the first time, it will still probably taste good enough to enjoy and you will have learned something in the process.
submitted by Kate Johnson, August 2020