Questions about humidity in a small wine fridge

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  • #4016 Reply

    I’m new to cheese making and I purchased a used 9 bottle wine fridge for use as a cheese cave. I have a bowl filled with water in it and a damp rag placed on a rack as well. My hygrometers both read only up as high as 70-72% relative humidity at about 55 degrees. I have 1 Parmesan and 2 Romano (2 lbs each), cheeses in it at this time. I have been working on the humidity problem for about 1.5 months. I see in the cheese recipes that the RH should be at 80-90%. What am I doing wrong? Also I have seen suggestions to get a ripening or aging box to put the cheeses in, What are these? And would they fit in a small wine fridge like mine? The cheeses have a dry outside at this time, is that the way these type of cheeses should be? Thanks in advance for your help.

    #4018 Reply
    Ray Johnson

    I don’t use a wine fridge but have seen a lot of them used on line. Most people use a small humidifier that sits in a cup of water this is then hooked up to a humidity controller. Both can be found on Amazon for fairly cheap. Your cheese should be dry on the surface but shouldnt crack if the humidity is close to right. Sounds like you are a little low.

    #5502 Reply
    Gracie Hernandez

    I am also using a wine fridge, same problem with humidity. I only have small 1 lb cheeses that are all waxed. Is humidity still a factor?

    #5509 Reply
    Tom Moran

    Gracie, I have found waxing to be an alternative to trying to properly humidify your aging space, but not a substitute. Waxing with wax will give you some protection from drying out but there are other issues I have experienced that make it almost as troublesome. Molding under the wax is one. Color and taste leaching into the cheese is another. My suggestion is to use cream wax if you can’t get the humidity right. It comes clear and drys opaque so you can see inside. Also holds the moisture but still provides some breathing of the cheese. Also has a mold inhibitor that doesn’t leave any taste. Hope it works out for you.

    #8133 Reply

    I control the humidity in my wine fridge by placing a dish of supersaturated table salt
    inside. The solution will maintain an equilibrium RH of approx 75 to 80% just by being there.

    Different salts maintain different levels of RH,

    Just fill a deep dish with water and add table salt until no more will dissolve. Check every few week to be see if more water need be added to the dish. Also good to place a Temp/RH meter inside just to be able to check periodically.

    #8236 Reply

    There’s a lot of good information here, but not everything was answered.

    I get that putting humidifiers, dehumidifiers and a controller on the wine fridge is a good idea, but a 9 bottle fridge doesn’t have that kind of real estate to waste.

    A ripening box would work, and as you probably know, it is just a container, sometimes with a draining mat inside. I often use the round red Decor tupperware with plastic draining mat included for my smaller wheels. For larger wheels I’ll use larger Sistema tupperware containers with larger mats. It has worked pretty well for me, particularly with the mould covering stages with Brie and Camembert, where humidity is quite important.

    Whether you have enough room, I don’t know, but if you buy a container just bigger than your wheel, and manage to keep the cheese from touching the sides of the box for proper airing you should be fine.

    Some people put their cheeses on bamboo (sushi rolling) mats, just to get their cheeses off the bottom of the container… however I find that I get a bit more clearance with the plastic/metal draining mats. This gives me more time before drained fluids becomes an issue.

    Basically you want the box to keep the moisture in (high humidity) but you do NOT want the cheese to be sitting in liquid (whey).

    If you’re having a lot of trouble with humidity, I recommend putting a teaspoon of water inside a ripening box (with tray) and seal it up. I then open cheeses up daily to drain excess moisture, replace trays (when they get mouldy), vent any gases building up, and flip the cheeses over.

    Other options include waxing (which will work AFTER the cheese has been sufficiently dried first, to prevent the mould from growing under the wax). Some people vacuum seal their cheeses, once a suitable level of moisture has been attained.

    I often vacuum seal my larger paremesan/romano/pecorino wheels in salt, a tiny amount of vinegar and olive oil for up to 2 years. That has greatly reduced cracking, surface mould, and .. although you don’t get the hardened rind from repeated salt rubbings, the flavour of the olive oil adds a pleasant undertone.

    So I hope that helps, and that I’ve explained things, and more importantly, answered your questions.

    Good luck!

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