There is almost always a period of time when you dry out your cheese before aging it. The time varies and depends on the temperature and humidity – it might be from one day to a week. It’s an important step in the cheese making process because if you are going to wax your cheese after drying, it has to be just dry enough for the wax to cling to it and protect it, but not so dry that the cheese cracks.
Some people keep their cheese in a dish on the counter, but that can be problematic (see Bob’s description below). Some people make their own box and take the concept a little further by putting a small fan outside their box to keep the air circulating. How you handle this step depends on the conditions in your home- the temperature and humidity, whether your cats get up on the counter, whether you might have a mouse in the house, etc.
Bob Albers of Mandeville, Louisianna felt the need to make a box and he was able to make a good one with scraps of wood he had on hand. We did an interview recently with Bob (click here) and, before that, we posted two articles – Creole Cream Cheese with Bob’s family recipe and About Cooking Curds, Bob’s analysis of the thermodynamics of heating curds.
If you have another whey of drying your cheese – let us know in the comments section at the end of the article. Meanwhile, happy cheese making!
Cheese Drying Box
By Bob Albers
I love to eat cheese. It also happens I live in a somewhat marshy area. Returning from my barber recently, I crossed a bridge where 3 people stood watching an alligator and some turtles in the bayou below the bridge. Marshes not only have such animals but also many insects. Though we always clean the house carefully with special attention to the kitchen & dining areas of the house, it isn’t uncommon to find some kind of unwanted resident such as a fly, ant, spider, etc. in the house. I noted, when air drying a recently made beer-infused cheese, that I was not the only one in the house that liked cheese – so did some fruit flies. I quickly removed the flies from the cheese, washed it with a dampened & salted cloth and quickly stored it in a Tupperware container.
This is not the way to air dry cheese. I reasoned that I needed to dry my cheese in a container which allowed for air flow but excluded insects. It occurred to me that a kind of box frame to support a loosely woven fabric would do the job. It would also help if the cheese were suspended above the container bottom. Here is the contraption I built. The plywood base and lid measure 10″x 11½.” It is 13 inches tall.
Inside, there are a pair of rails which hold a cheese mat about 1″ from the bottom allowing air under the cheese. The sides are covered with a curtain fabric which is somewhat like burlap only a finer thread. The wooden members of the box are glued together with a glue suitable for outdoor furniture whereas the fabric is held in place with a water soluble glue in the event the fabric needs to be replaced. The lid is fastened with two very small hinges and latched by way of two screws and a piece of nylon cord. All of the materials except the fabric were scraps I had left over from other projects.
To use the box, I place a paper towel on the bottom to catch any possible drip. Then, I place the cheese mat on the rails. The cheese is then placed on the cheese mat and the lid is closed.
If any of you have a similar problem, I hope this helps you to solve it by making your own drying box.