AGING CHEESE WITHOUT A CAVE

Few home cheesemakers have a “cave” (or dedicated refrigeration space) to age cheeses in. Instead, most do the trick of creating “Mini Cheese Caves” by placing shallow plastic bins in the refrigerator. For these bins to work properly, follow these tricks from Cheese Educator Louella Hill, formerly known as the SF Milk Maid!


1. Place your finished wheel of cheese on top of a sushi mat (or other mesh matting) to allow oxygen to pass on the underside of the cheese wheel. If you place the cheese directly on the bottom of the bin, the base of the wheel will rot.


2. Place the cheese (which rests on the mat) inside a short plastic bin with a lid. The container does not have to be airtight. More important is that the size of the container is relative to the size of the cheese. You want to have the cheese take up approximately 40-60% of the airspace of the container. This container will stay in your fridge.


3. Once the cheese is in its bin, flip it regularly to ensure it gets air on all sides. Air will allow the right molds and bacteria to grow. Lack of air will cause the cheese to rot or develop off-flavors.


4. Remove accumulated moisture from the aging bin with a clean rag or paper towel.


5. Set the lid of the aging bin on lightly, not snapping it on. This allows for moderate airflow. Your cheese will neither suffocate nor dry out if you do this.


6. If you have multiple cheeses in one bin, make sure that they do not touch one another. This is most important when you are making cheeses with white mold rinds (Brie).


7. Keep your hands clean while flipping your aging cheeses. Think about which surfaces you might touch between the hand washing sink and the cheese itself.