Tuesday, August 23, 2011
My cheese cave!
OK, we're still getting to know each other. Don't worry, I'll be gentle.
For those who don't know me, there's one constant that describes me. I'm ecentric.
I don't play by the rules. I speak my mind, and I love to challenge both myself and others.
And, I NEVER do anything half assed.
So, that brings me to my latest project. My cheese cave.
I've dabbled with different cheeses that don't require aging. After losing my cheese virginity with simplistic cheeses (feta, mozzarella, for example), I find myself yearning for the next challenge. Hard cheeses.
Hard cheeses require an area to store and age them. The ideal temperature is 50-56, depending on the cheeses.
Well, I don't exactly have a cave I can store it in... The fridge was too cold (32 degrees F), and room temperature is too warm (68 degrees F). Besides, the humidity is too low (I need 80 percent humidity and 52 degrees F).
So, how did I solve this? :)
I insulated my preserve cupboard (6x8) with 2 layers of 2 inch white styrofoam, cut a hole to the outside world, and installed a 12,000 BTU air conditioner, and added shelves and a heavy guage PVC curtain.
Trouble is, air conditioners are programmed to shut down at 61 degrees, which means the room never got below 61 degrees. D'OH!
So... a little hacking - install an electronic circuit that tricks the air conditioner into thinking that it's warmer than it actually is by installing a heating coil around the thermostat...
Well, that'd introduced another problem. Frost. The air condition will go into overdrive and start to seriously frost up. So, you'll need to install a circuit that detects frost on the air conditioner, and temporarily stops the heat -- allowing the airconditioner to manually defrost.
The result? A perfect 52 degree room!
For those who aren't electronically inclined, there's a system called the "coolBot" that'll do this exact thing for you.
See the attached video and a picture of my very first Parmesan. This puppy needs to age for 9 months. Can't wait!