Have you given any thought to making a walk-in cheese cave? It’s easier than you might think …
Many home cheese makers use refrigerators and wine coolers to age their cheese. These are great, but space is limited.
For those of you who make a lot of cheese, there is an easy, inexpensive solution – using a Coolbot along with an air conditioner (or mini-split) to chill a room sized cave. The optimum temperature is around 50F, but this varies slightly according to the type of cheese you are making.
There are currently so many of our customers doing this that we are now selling Coolbots (click here). All you need is a well-insulated room with an air conditioner and a Coolbot and you have a cheese cave.
We have heard from cheese makers who have been using Coolbots successfully for quite some time (see Claude Garneau in Ottawa, Canada and Steve Murtaugh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Here’s a short video about the cave at Wit’s End homestead in Coram, Montana:
Here’s a good article about the cold storage unit at Stonewall Farm in Keene, New Hampshire (click here).
How it works:
Basically, it tricks an air conditioner into cooling at lower temperatures than it normally would. In the process of doing this, it turns the fan in the air conditioner off when it isn’t actually cooling, which saves energy (estimates are that it uses 40% less electricity than traditional coolers). The Coolbot itself uses as much electricity as a cell phone charger.
You can see in the chart below how cost effective it can be:
How to use it:
Insulation – The cave itself needs to be well insulated – at least R-25. Some folks choose to buy a used walk-in cooler (without the compressor) and outfit it with a Coolbot, as in this Urban Farmer video:
Choosing air conditioner
You will need to figure out how many BTUs you need in your room. You will require slightly more BTU’s than you would normally get for your room size because of the Coolbot. Storeitcold.com has a calculator to help you determine the size of your air conditioner – click here.
You will need to use an air conditioner with a digital display and certain brands are better suited for this than others. Window units are the best (do not use portable units) and mini-splits work well. All the info you need to choose your unit (including the chart below) is again located at Storeitcold.com.
This only takes a few minutes.
It’s good to keep your cheese away from the direct air from the air conditioner because this can dry out your cheese.
Some folks keep a small fan running next to the air conditioner to keep the air moving.
It’s best if you don’t open and close the door to the room constantly because Coolbots recover their temperature more slowly than conventional cooling systems.
What about humidity?
Here’s one solution – http://blog.cheesemaking.com/add-humidity-room-sized-cave/