Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cheese Cave

After recovering from the phage scare of December, I have put my thoughts back to the cheese cave project. What is the great challenge of this farm and this cheese business is trying to guess what I want this farm, this life to be five years in the future. Designing and building a cheese cave is the embodiment of this challenge.

Presently I make one cheese: Dinah's Cheese,a fresh cows' milk bloomy rind soft cheese. It is aged for twenty five days and is aged in coolers in the make room. I like making this cheese, it is tasty, and moves from milk to cheese to customer in less than a month.

I want to make a second cheese. In fact I have been making small amounts of the new cheese already. To be called Francesca's Cheese, it is a hard cheese. This cheese will be approximately ten pounds when fully aged, made of cows milk and with luck, similar to a Grana Padano or Parmigiano. With a lot of luck.

What is different about this new cheese is that it needs to age for six, eight, ten, twelve months and it is quite large compared to the seven ounce Dinah's that are aging by the hundreds in the small coolers. The need is therefore for a large cheese cave.

I have hired an architect, whose usual jobs are human houses, and have asked her to design a cave for me. We have been going back and forth for weeks, with a great, long meeting yesterday. The plans are almost done and then the structural engineer will give his recommendations for the way that the walls and ceilings must be constructed.

The design is for a room approximately two hundred and fifty square feet, with a barrel vaulted ceiling. This rolling ceiling will help the air to move around the room freely, as opposed to a flat ceiling with potentially dead pockets of air. The entire bunker is built underground, with at least four feet of soil between the uppermost part of the building and the ground. With that much soil covering the cave, I hope to keep the interior temperature at a constant, year round fifty degrees.

The challenge is guessing how much cheese I will make in a few years to determine the size of this storage room. Yesterday I finally got to the point that I cannot predict the future, and that the better idea is to make an ample cave with the potential for expansion. Seems like a good plan.

Updates to follow as the work progresses.

1 comment:

  1. It seems we are living opposite lives. I have been making raw milk aged cheeses for the last six years and am now interested in a bloomy rind cheese or maybe blue. I just completed my underground aging cave. Looking good. Regards, Dan in Colorado


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