I often receive emails asking how I go about ripening several cheeses at once that need different humidity levels or how to prevent cross-contamination. There are several ways to do this, first and most expensive is to have several “caves” each set to different temperatures and different levels of humidity. Not really practical if you are on a budget. You could vacuum seal the cheese, which I do from time to time, face it I do this a lot, as I suck at waxing cheese. The option I use this most often is a ripening box.
A ripening box or “mini-cave” is any food safe container with a lid that you can ripen cheese in while controlling, to the best of your ability, the humidity levels. This can be anything from a plastic zip-lock container to a Rubbermaid box as well. I have how to make a “Mini-Cave” in an earlier post, this can be a temporary cave for transportation or you can use it for high humidity ageing. But if you want something that involves a little less hassle then a ripening box is the way to go. Here is how to make a simple one with a small container. The principle is the same with any size box.
Before you put the lid on you have to decide if you need to add humidity/moisture to the box. I find that if you are ripening semi-lactic cheese then you can get away with not putting a wet paper towel in the corner, as they are moist enough to keep the humidity at the right level. If you are not sure then put a damp/wet paper towel in the corner opposite of the cheese.
Now you will put this into your cave and start your ripening. You will need to check every day to make sure the moisture level is right. Here is a tip, if you notice a “fog” on the container then you are between 85 and 95% humidity. It is important to wipe the lid of the container every day. This prevents water dripping on your cheese, this becomes second nature as you begin to use them more and more.
I hope this helps those who were wondering what I mean as a Ripening Box/Mini-Cave. If you have any questions please let me know, or feel free to share your tips in the comments below.
If you check out Much To Do About Cheese on Facebook you will see more pictures and some of my cheeses in their ripening boxes.
Go make some cheese!