Sunday, September 15, 2019

Parmesan Update - Humidity Issues

Hi Everyone,

This morning when I went to check on my Parm, this is what I saw. Now remember, mould isn't bad for cheese as long as it's not black mould. Blue, green and white is just fine as long as you wash it off as it develops; or cut it off when you're ready to eat it. As long as the mould hasn't completely taken over the cheese, it's okay.

But...this Parmesan wheel is growing mould WAY too fast. I check it twice a week and I shouldn't be seeing so much! Unfortunately it started to creep into the little cracks in the cheese which I'm not happy about. Also, I've noticed brown spots forming on the wheel as well. I thought it was a by-product of the mould growth, but my gut was telling me otherwise.

I cleaned up the wheel by wiping it with brine and using a little brush to brush off the brown spots and get the mould out of the little cracks. I washed it with brine and let it sit for a while to dry as I tried to look up why this was happening.

Good old Cheese Forum! I found a thread where someone was saying the same thing about his Beaufort cheese - which is similar to a Parmesan - both develop rinds, both are hard cheeses and both need to be ripened at 85-95% humidity at 10C (50F) as they age.

Two different people said they thought the humidity was too high. But the man who posted the issue said that his ripening box was holding a steady humidity of 93%.

My ripening box is holding a steady humidity of 91%. One of the more experienced cheese makers on the forum explained that most cheeses ripen in a controlled humid environment that is larger than a home cheese maker's ripening box is. He continued to say that the larger cheese caves have more air flow as the humidity and temperature varies now and then. 

He said most recipes for cheeses that need to age in ripening boxes, don't assume that the cheeses will age in a little tupperware (like most home cheese makers use), so the humidity, though at the right range, is still too high for that small little space.

Eureka. That was likely my problem. So I put the Parm wheel in a larger ripening box for more air flow and put a smaller piece of wet paper towel inside. I'm going to keep an eye on it for a week or so to see if that solves the problem.

If it doesn't I have two more tips:

1. Rub olive oil all over the wheel. This is supposed to inhibit mould growth.

2. Vacuum pack the wheel. I don't really want to do this because it won't age as well.

I'll update soon!


Leigh said...

I can so relate to any humidity problems! Very interesting about humidity and cheese curing. Even "the Queen's" book doesn't mention the amount of space and air circulation, which I get is important.

The olive oil tip reminded me of reading about cheesemaking in one of the Little House on the Prairie books. Laura said Ma coated her cheeses with butter and wiped them daily. They used a cellar for cheese curing and storing, I believe.

Natalia said...

Wow, I admire people who maje thei oen cheese and I hope one say I will make it too! I have just made cream cheese one day, but parm is way better☺

Rain said...

Hi Leigh :) The Queen doesn't mention a lot of things! That's really interesting about Little House. We can learn a lot from those books/shows. In the end my olive oil didn't stop the mould, I'll post about it, but I ended up vacuum sealing the Parm today.

Rain said...

Thanks Natalia :) Cream cheese is something I'm going to try to make this month! I hope you try to make more cheeses, it's a lot of fun and so rewarding! :)