I was pleasantly surprised last year that not only did I enjoy making cheese, it also turned out amazing. I usually do not enjoy tedious tasks that take a long time, but I rather enjoyed the process and definitely the result! The problem is finding a place to store the wheels of cheese where they can properly age and develop flavors without being eaten by mice or molding.
The proper temperature for aging cheese is 55 degrees with a bit of humidity. I thought our old coal chute in the basement in the last house would be good but it was very dusty, had mice, and was sixty-five degrees all summer. I read that one could use a mini-fridge and I borrowed my friend’s. The problem was that by keeping it on the highest setting to attain fifty-five degrees, the small freezer part kept leaking on the cheese.
I found a refrigerator on Craigslist that was cheap because it didn’t cool any lower than fifty degrees. Jack pot! After placing a bowl of water in there with the cheese I created quite a nice environment. Then we moved. The jostling of the fridge on the trailer made it begin to work! It froze the cheese. When it defrosted, it began to mold something awful and the chickens were gifted wheels of really stinky cheese.
We tried a cooler with an ice pack. We tried the back guest room. No where was quite right.
I thought about it all winter. Fifty-five degrees. What keeps its temperature at fifty-five degrees? And then I recalled the wine fridge that sat atop the counter at our friends’ house. Fifty-five degrees for good red wine. Holy smokes, I was excited. Wine and cheese at the ready all summer.
We found one at the hardware store on sale, no less. I am borrowing another cheese press this summer to make more cheese. I’ll have two going at a at time. Manchego, a light Italian cheese, Parmesan, sharp Cheddar….oh my. I’ve missed my own cheese. Purchasing it in the store is sadly lacking. The girls are due in four weeks! Fresh milk is on the way!