Humidity While Aging Cheese
Q. I purchased the Hygrometer you sell and it works very easily. But how do I get to 85 to 90% humidity? I am using a bowl of water in my wine refrigerator.
A. It can be difficult to maintain humidity above 80-85% in an open space like that. It is even more difficult when a lot of this is empty space. The best way is to give it time to stabilize and use the max/min button on the hygrometer to see what your highest and lowest levels are when the box is closed.
As soon as you open the door, all of that moist air flows out and you get a low reading. We recommend using covered plastic boxes inside the refrigerator to keep moisture at the 90-95% level.
Too Much Moisture
Q. I am making Manchego for the 2nd time. The first time I let it age only a week but now that I have a better setup, I am going to let it age much longer.
It is in a plastic box, sitting on top of a piece of wood. When I started, I put a sponge and wet cloth in the box. But, the past few days I have noticed the humidity going very high. I took out the wet cloth. That didn't work. I took out the wet sponge and put in a smaller one. That didn't work, so I took the sponge out totally. There is nothing in the box except for the cheese and the thermostat. Still, the humidity is 89%. Could the cheese itself be giving off the humidity?
A. Yes, the cheese will give off a lot of humidity, especially in the beginning and even more so if it's a higher moisture cheese. You may need to leave the top of your container ajar to allow moisture to escape. This should help regulate the humidity in the container.
Q. I recently made the Alpine Tomme cheese and after the first week of curing in the cave, it developed an assortment of colored molds. I tried brushing off the mold, but was unsuccessful so I used a brine solution to try and clean the mold off.
While the mold itself (I think) was all removed and I haven't had a problem since (and the cheese smells right, too), the mold discolored the rind of the cheese and none of my efforts have been able to remove that. Is this a problem or do I not worry about it?
A. This was likely due to cave moisture being too high. Or, you just didn't get to the mold soon enough. Wiping with a fine dampened cloth earlier may have helped.
Mold will stain but it's not a problem. In fact, it makes your cheese look a bit more homemade.