Ever since I began making my own cheese, I had to find a way of aging it. Most cheese is aged for months, sometimes even years. Traditionally, especially in Europe, a cheese cave is used because of the perfect specific cheese aging conditions. The home cheese maker has to find a replacement for these cheese caves for aging their cheese.
Not all cheese has to be aged. Mozzarella, for example, can be made and eaten in the same day. Cheddar, however, has to be aged for weeks before it develops its trademark flavor. The longer a cheese ages, the sharper it gets. Some extra sharp cheddars are aged for years at a time.
|How do you apply for that job???|
"Wait, Andrew, are you saying the cheese I buy in the store has been sitting on a piece of wood in some cave for months???" Yes, actually, that's exactly what happens.
|Add a bed and I'm moving in!|
In factories and for the commercial cheese producer, a room with temperature and humidity controls suffice for underground cheese caves of the past, but the idea is the same. The cheese you eat has been sitting around in some room for weeks or even months before it ever makes it to your table.
So why a cave? Well, cheese needs to be aged at 55 degrees with a humidity at about 80% and that's pretty much how a normal underground basement or cellar is on its own, making it an ideal setting for the cheese aging process. When a natural cave wasn't around, cheese makers started digging into hillsides to create tiny caves, just for their cheeses.
|That's one fancy homemade cave!|
My cheese cave is simply a wine cellar refrigerator, which is a modern way of keeping wine. However, it can also be used as a cheese cave and that's what I have to use because there are no basements or cellars in Texas.
|Not a true cave, but does what I need it to do.|
|(the best cheese is in the 56th row, 35th from left)|
Here are some amazing examples of cheese caves from around the world! Each one makes me want to pack up my stuff and move in!
|It's as if Bilbo Baggins makes cheese!|
|A manmade modern cheese cave!|
|First I would dress up as Link, then I would eat everything I find in this cave.|
|Long hard day in the cheese mines???|
|Congratulations, it's a cheese!|