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Homemade Cheese Cave

Written By Culinary Pen on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 4:05:00 AM

I installed a small thermometer in the basement of our new house and it's been keeping at a steady 70 degrees for the past month or so. While this is a bit too warm for the long-term aging of most cheeses, it's perfect for storing a Swiss cheese for the first three weeks. The holes in Swiss cheese are the result of cultures eating milk sugars and releasing gas as a byproduct. For this to happen, the cheese needs to sit somewhere warm and dark for about three weeks so the air bubbles can bloom.

Also, our basement is a little damp, which helps the humidity from drying out the cheese. To help insulate the cheese's natural moisture, I'm keeping it in an old wooden cheese box. This also keeps spiders off it, to be honest. Not that I think spiders eat much cheese.

You can see the cheese has a whole range of molds on it, none of which seem to be anything out of the ordinary. The only one I worry about is "cat hair mold," a light, prickly black mold that can impart a bitter flavor. But thankfully that hasn't shown up since the first week. Otherwise the high salt content of the cheese and dominant cultures should keep any other pathogen's away.

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