The issue is humidity. You can measure it with hygrometers but controlling it is another matter. There are many ways to do it and we have posted several articles about regulating the humidity of your cheeses as they mature.*
In this article, Pedro Collins of Stoke Lyne, Oxfordshire, UK shares his method. Pedro is a home cheese maker with a great Facebook page- The Little Village Dairy. (We will be telling you more about him in the June 1st Moos-Letter.)
Pedro Collins on Humidity
This is the progress Pedro has made in the last few months, beginning with an aging box:
I’ve made a simple device which will raise the humidity required to mature some of my cheeses – a mister, immersed in water, contained in a un-heated propagator, with a hygrometer. By operating the vents, I can regulate the humidity, up to 80-90%.
A few days later: Some slight modifications to the cheese maturing box. Much easier to keep water fresh, I’m able to change it daily to reduce the chances of contamination. Before, I filled the base of the propagator with water, made it a bit of a fiddly job when changing water.
I’m hoping to to incorporate the mister into a wine cooler which will drain excess water and allow me to regulate both the temperature and humidity, using a humidistat.
This is my next project – converting a wine chiller into a cave, well something that resembles a cave in that, I should be able to create an environment perfect for maturing my cheeses.
A week later: Impatient as I am, I couldn’t wait for my chiller. So as a temporary solution, I’ve set the fridge on it’s lowest setting and put the mister in the bottom. With a little tweaking, I’m getting 85 percent humidity and a temperature of between 6 and 9 degrees C (43-48 degrees F). Two days and already there’s a significant improvement.
Once I get the wine cooler, which I can set at 8 degrees C (46 degrees F) and the mister connected to a humidistat, I won’t have to manually operate the mister to keep a constant humidity.
A week later: Thanks for the wine cooler Michael, the integral fan makes this perfect. (Pedro’s friend gave him a wine cooler.) Still waiting for the digital control unit, once that’s connected to the mister, I’ll be hands free, well apart from turning the cheeses.
2 days later: Humidistat set up, thanks Greg. (Pedro’s neighbor is an electrician who looked the wiring on the controller over before Pedro plugged it in.) Working a treat, a constant 85% humidity, or what ever the cheese requires, brilliant piece of kit and it only cost £15 ($21).
Final touch: Bit more tweaking. Made a box for the mister from a 5 litre (1.3 gallon) plastic container. Chopped the middle out, drilled some holes in the top, joined it up, top inserted into bottom. This almost eliminates liquid water from the mister, splashing over into the cooler.
Controlling Humidity in Your Cheese “Cave” – Steve Murtaugh adds salt and water to his small refrigerator to control the humidity.
How to Make a Cheese Cave – Jon Little uses a Top Fin Air 8000 Aquarium Pump and the Tropicaire reptile humidifier and air exchanger in his dorm sized refrigerator.