Cheese Cave build

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d40dave

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I just now realized there were posts to my post from last January. Thanks for the replies. The Gruyere doesn't seem to be doing well but the others seem OK.
 

Gadjobrinus

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Sorry for reviving an old one guys (Andrew, again, nice one!). Can't recall if I mentioned it, but a new to me, very lightly used Magic Chef "45 bottle" tanked after about a month. Bummed, as it was really working as a natural rind, Savoie cave with grey mucor, P. blanc, lots of other beasties from the way these rustic tommes were developing. Coolest thing ever - long "fur," "poils du chat." Exactly like tommes de Savoie progress from yeast to geo to these molds to corynes/red and yellow.

Anyway, I wanted to give the starter relay a try, too. But for some reason, the lowest I've found is $22, and Amazon is $35 (not prime) to $41. I bought the cave for $40 and it doesn't make much sense to spend more on this little part than the cost of the cooler itself. Isn't that weirdly high? I see in the range $11-14 typically. Any suggestions? BTW, the part is Magic Chef/E-Wave 312200500017. Thanks.
 
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Sorry for reviving an old one guys (Andrew, again, nice one!). Can't recall if I mentioned it, but a new to me, very lightly used Magic Chef "45 bottle" tanked after about a month. Bummed, as it was really working as a natural rind, Savoie cave with grey mucor, P. blanc, lots of other beasties from the way these rustic tommes were developing. Coolest thing ever - long "fur," "poils du chat." Exactly like tommes de Savoie progress from yeast to geo to these molds to corynes/red and yellow.

Anyway, I wanted to give the starter relay a try, too. But for some reason, the lowest I've found is $22, and Amazon is $35 (not prime) to $41. I bought the cave for $40 and it doesn't make much sense to spend more on this little part than the cost of the cooler itself. Isn't that weirdly high? I see in the range $11-14 typically. Any suggestions? BTW, the part is Magic Chef/E-Wave 312200500017. Thanks.
Suck! My own wine fridge died (again). Not sure how long it was 90F+, but the two full wheels of aged romano turned an odd tan color. They are vac sealed. I also saved a bi-color colby that was in there that lost a lot of whey into the bag. The rest of the cheeses looked like a mess and I tossed. Argh. I will open them this weekend and see how deep the damage is.

Anyway, my starter relay was only $13 so I'll probably get another. I might also change the starter cap if I can figure out which one to buy. The startup problem could be either I guess.

Hobbies are so much fun!
 

Gadjobrinus

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Suck! My own wine fridge died (again). Not sure how long it was 90F+, but the two full wheels of aged romano turned an odd tan color. They are vac sealed. I also saved a bi-color colby that was in there that lost a lot of whey into the bag. The rest of the cheeses looked like a mess and I tossed. Argh. I will open them this weekend and see how deep the damage is.

Anyway, my starter relay was only $13 so I'll probably get another. I might also change the starter cap if I can figure out which one to buy. The startup problem could be either I guess.

Hobbies are so much fun!
Andrew as you know, I am not exactly gifted mechanically. I'm running 97% RH and there's a ton of condensation. I thought I remember somewhere someone talking about waterproofing cables or something like that. Or the starter relay itself? Is that what you're talking about, with the starter cap? To your knowledge, should we silicone anything coming in? (Can't even recall if I have anything - thermo cooling).
 
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Andrew as you know, I am not exactly gifted mechanically. I'm running 97% RH and there's a ton of condensation. I thought I remember somewhere someone talking about waterproofing cables or something like that. Or the starter relay itself? Is that what you're talking about, with the starter cap? To your knowledge, should we silicone anything coming in? (Can't even recall if I have anything - thermo cooling).
97% RH? Woah. I don't think mine ever gets above 70.

The inside doesn't need any waterproofing, but since it's going to be humid, you'll want to mind electronics of course. And, if you build shelves, don't use anything that would rust.

I'll update this thread when I get mine operational again. I've been meaning to get back to cheesemaking (haven't made any in months).
 

estricklin

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Suck! My own wine fridge died (again). Not sure how long it was 90F+, but the two full wheels of aged romano turned an odd tan color. They are vac sealed. I also saved a bi-color colby that was in there that lost a lot of whey into the bag. The rest of the cheeses looked like a mess and I tossed. Argh. I will open them this weekend and see how deep the damage is.

Anyway, my starter relay was only $13 so I'll probably get another. I might also change the starter cap if I can figure out which one to buy. The startup problem could be either I guess.

Hobbies are so much fun!
They are both pretty easy to test, but also pretty cheap to replace. Could be a problem with the actual compressor too.
 

Gadjobrinus

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97% RH? Woah. I don't think mine ever gets above 70.

The inside doesn't need any waterproofing, but since it's going to be humid, you'll want to mind electronics of course. And, if you build shelves, don't use anything that would rust.

I'll update this thread when I get mine operational again. I've been meaning to get back to cheesemaking (haven't made any in months).
Andrew, I spaced, just noticed your cave went on the fritz again, sorry man. Hope you do get back in, love to see some cheese. I'm always thinking weird things. Ideally I'll have a washed rind, a natural rind (e.g., tommes), a bloomy, a brine/attemperation and a drying ("sechage") cave. All radiant cooling, a DIY cooling system with an AC. I have a very stout pump for the coolant reservoir, and a spare AC, so we'll see.
 
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Sorry for reviving an old one guys (Andrew, again, nice one!). Can't recall if I mentioned it, but a new to me, very lightly used Magic Chef "45 bottle" tanked after about a month. Bummed, as it was really working as a natural rind, Savoie cave with grey mucor, P. blanc, lots of other beasties from the way these rustic tommes were developing. Coolest thing ever - long "fur," "poils du chat." Exactly like tommes de Savoie progress from yeast to geo to these molds to corynes/red and yellow.

Anyway, I wanted to give the starter relay a try, too. But for some reason, the lowest I've found is $22, and Amazon is $35 (not prime) to $41. I bought the cave for $40 and it doesn't make much sense to spend more on this little part than the cost of the cooler itself. Isn't that weirdly high? I see in the range $11-14 typically. Any suggestions? BTW, the part is Magic Chef/E-Wave 312200500017. Thanks.
It's possible you can fix your relay. I just fixed mine. It's running fine right now.

The "relay" isn't really a conventional relay. Inside, mine had a disk of PTC material. This material is conductive (~5 ohms) at room temperature. I took mine apart (no tools required!) and found that the area where the springy contacts touched it were pitted and fouled, and the resulting resistance was high (> 50k ohms). If you open yours up, rotate the disk so the contact touches a good spot (you can see the bad spot there), and use a bit of sandpaper on the contact to remove any carbon, it'll work fine again.

This might be an indication of some other problem (like a compressor that is sticking/failing). Who knows.

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shelly_belly

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Suck! My own wine fridge died (again)....
I feel your pain. My chest freezer/cave died a month ago. I had an 8" fan running in there and it must put out a lot of heat as the temperature was 120F. Melted my Port Salut, Belper Knolles, a Romano and a Parmesan. Not in a good way either. I was only washing/checking every 3 days, no telling how long it was out. When i get it going again I'm installing a temperature alarm.
 
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I feel your pain. My chest freezer/cave died a month ago. I had an 8" fan running in there and it must put out a lot of heat as the temperature was 120F. Melted my Port Salut, Belper Knolles, a Romano and a Parmesan. Not in a good way either. I was only washing/checking every 3 days, no telling how long it was out. When i get it going again I'm installing a temperature alarm.

Here's an Edam I discovered yesterday in the back of my failed fridge (the fridge that is now cold again). I thought I got them all out, but this was in the back. I've got a bunch more that are like this. I'm going to taste them, but I suspect that due to the loss of all that liquid, they are going to be awful dry.

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I feel your pain. My chest freezer/cave died a month ago. I had an 8" fan running in there and it must put out a lot of heat as the temperature was 120F. Melted my Port Salut, Belper Knolles, a Romano and a Parmesan. Not in a good way either. I was only washing/checking every 3 days, no telling how long it was out. When i get it going again I'm installing a temperature alarm.
I avoided putting fans in my freezers because I was always worried about adding additional heat. Didn't seem right. I guess my intuition was correct.
 

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Indeed a bummer. Is it a compressor unit or a thermoelectric?
Why is this important? I see that mentioned all the time. Is it the ones with compressors that are good? Or is it the other way around? I have no clue when it comes to electronics. So it would be nice if someone could explain why it should be compressor (or the other one).
 
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Why is this important? I see that mentioned all the time. Is it the ones with compressors that are good? Or is it the other way around? I have no clue when it comes to electronics. So it would be nice if someone could explain why it should be compressor (or the other one).
They will both get the job done, but those TE coolers take a lot of power. I would not use one, especially in my FL garage.
 

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They will both get the job done, but those TE coolers take a lot of power. I would not use one, especially in my FL garage.
Aha! OK :)

So the compressor-ones requires less electricity?

Which of the two are more silent normally?

Also those shelves that you built. You got them from home depot right? I don't have Home Depot here in Europe. But maybe I could use some other material ? 🤔

I like that your shelves looks like they have air coming in from beneath them as well.

Also, you posted two images of plastic boxes that you use for your cheese to keep humid(?). Do you have those completely sealed or do you keep a little bit of the lid open so that air can seep in there?
 
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Aha! OK :)

So the compressor-ones requires less electricity?

Which of the two are more silent normally?

Also those shelves that you built. You got them from home depot right? I don't have Home Depot here in Europe. But maybe I could use some other material ? 🤔

I like that your shelves looks like they have air coming in from beneath them as well.

Also, you posted two images of plastic boxes that you use for your cheese to keep humid(?). Do you have those completely sealed or do you keep a little bit of the lid open so that air can seep in there?
TE is COMPLETELY silent. Models with compressors make very little sound also, but I wouldn't want it next to my bed.

Yes, I made those from wood slats and dowels. You could use any material, but I like the aesthetics and workability of wood. If there is any metal in the shelves, make sure it's not something that will rust.

For the shelves, just make sure they are vented with slots or holes. Cheese continues to expel whey when it's aging, and you want the whey to get away from the cheese to avoid mold and to let the rind develop properly.

When you are trying to keep humidity high, seal the boxes. It's the only way. Though, I do check them every day or two, so if there is any need for oxygen, it's getting replenished. Not really sure what the right answer is here - that's just how I do it.
 

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When you are trying to keep humidity high, seal the boxes. It's the only way. Though, I do check them every day or two, so if there is any need for oxygen, it's getting replenished. Not really sure what the right answer is here - that's just how I do it.
Ok nice 👍

Are those plastic sealers and boxes what people call "ripening boxes"?

About the sealers, are you using some type of vacuum bags? Or are they just ordinary plastic sealers? And where can I buy those?

And would ordinary plastic bags from any supermarket work just as well?
Or could even a plastic lunch box do the job perhaps?

So in a wine cooler, which is already humid from the extra glass of water(or something), that is put in there by the cheesemaker, the humidity might be perhaps 60-70%, right?

But the ripening boxes are going to keep an even higher moisture level than that right? Above 90% even maybe?
 
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Ok nice 👍

Are those plastic sealers and boxes what people call "ripening boxes"?

About the sealers, are you using some type of vacuum bags? Or are they just ordinary plastic sealers? And where can I buy those?

And would ordinary plastic bags from any supermarket work just as well?
Or could even a plastic lunch box do the job perhaps?

So in a wine cooler, which is already humid from the extra glass of water(or something), that is put in there by the cheesemaker, the humidity might be perhaps 60-70%, right?

But the ripening boxes are going to keep an even higher moisture level than that right? Above 90% even maybe?
That is all correct.

The problem with most plastic bags like ziplocks is that they don't block oxygen. If you store a cheese in one of them, it might get moldy, and you might not want that (much to say on that subject, but I'll move on). So, you used the vacuum sealer and the bags for it and get a true seal - it's a replacement for wax (and a great improvement, in my opinion).
 

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That is all correct.

The problem with most plastic bags like ziplocks is that they don't block oxygen. If you store a cheese in one of them, it might get moldy, and you might not want that (much to say on that subject, but I'll move on). So, you used the vacuum sealer and the bags for it and get a true seal - it's a replacement for wax (and a great improvement, in my opinion).
Hmm ok :) Nice.

Where do you get those types of vacuum sealers in America?

Do you have some air inside of them around the cheese or should they stretch really tight against the cheese to keep out all air? And are they just ordinary vacuum bags which are easy to seal by hand? Or do you need some type of vacuum sealer machine as well?

I have some wax. I am thinking of trying that on one cheese, and then a vacuum-bag on the other, to see the difference in ripening/aging.

Also, are you able to measure the humidity inside of your vacuum bags somehow? Seems a bit hard to stick in a hygrometer in it. But perhaps that is possible?
 
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Hmm ok :) Nice.

Where do you get those types of vacuum sealers in America? Are they expensive?

I have some wax. I am thinking of trying that on one cheese, and then a vacuum-bag on the other, to see the difference.

Also, are you able to measure the humidity inside of your vacuum bags somehow? Seems a bit hard to stick in a hygrometer in it. But perhaps that is possible?
Foodsaver. ~$50. Inkbird now makes one that is pretty cheap. You'll have to find bags. Best to buy them in a roll from discounters. You'll need the wide bags (I think they are 11"). Also get the 8", which is quite handy for food usage.


The problem with wax is a) don't burn yourself or start a fire, b) if there is even a pinhole, it can be a problem, c) you can't see through it, so you don't have any idea when there is a problem, d) if you want to take a wedge or sample, you must re-seal the remaining part.

One solution to d) is to just cut it into wedges and then wax. I've done that and it worked out great. See cheddar I made below.

You ONLY put the cheese in the bag when it is finished. If you're making hard grating cheeses (e.g., parmesan), don't put it in the bag until it's hard. All cheeses will continue to develop their flavor character in the bag, but they will not dry out of course. See parmesan I made below (I made two actually). I aged it in the cave for 6 months before bagging it.

I hope you guys don't mind the big pics. I think threads are so much better with pics.

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Dwarfking

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Foodsaver. ~$50. Inkbird now makes one that is pretty cheap. You'll have to find bags. Best to buy them in a roll from discounters. You'll need the wide bags (I think they are 11"). Also get the 8", which is quite handy for food usage.


You ONLY put the cheese in the bag when it is finished. If you're making hard grating cheeses (e.g., parmesan), don't put it in the bag until it's hard. All cheeses will continue to develop their flavor character in the bag, but they will not dry out of course. See parmesan I made below (I made two actually). I aged it in the cave for 6 months before bagging it.
Ah :), so you have your own vacuum sealer that you use for this? And then the vacuum bags act as the final ripening boxes, right?

How do you mean that you age it before you seal it? Do you age it in the open air inside your wine fridge before you seal them in the bag? Or do you age them inside plastic bags/boxes with small holes in them?

How do you know when you finally need to put it in the vacuum-bag? And when it is finished to be put in there?

Also, do you have some idea of what the humidity is inside your ripening bag/vacuum seal-bags? Since the humidity of your wine fridge is 70%, the humidity in the vacuum box might be even higher, perhaps?

The cheeses looks good :)
 

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Wow, the cheese thread comes alive again!! I buy bulk rolls of vacuum bag material from Amazon. Andrew is right about getting both the 11" and 8" widths. I have found over a couple of years that I actually use much more of the 8" material than the 11" because they really are the perfect size for so many food storage things. I also recommend when shopping for the sealer itself, that resist the urge to get a fully automatic version. If you ever want to do charcuterie using the Umai Dry bags and manual sealer that allows you to open the sealer, position the bag on the sealing bar, then close and seal works much better.

I'm not the expert Andrew is, but generally the humidity in a ripening box is much higher just because the cheese itself is giving off moisture. In some cases your humidity can get too high in such a box, in which case you can leave the lid only partially sealed.

Most all cheeses have an initial room temperature/room humidity period right after making/pressing. This allows the outside of the cheese to dry slightly. I believe there are still pH changes going on during this period as well.
 
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Wow, the cheese thread comes alive again!! I buy bulk rolls of vacuum bag material from Amazon. Andrew is right about getting both the 11" and 8" widths. I have found over a couple of years that I actually use much more of the 8" material than the 11" because they really are the perfect size for so many food storage things. I also recommend when shopping for the sealer itself, that resist the urge to get a fully automatic version. If you ever want to do charcuterie using the Umai Dry bags and manual sealer that allows you to open the sealer, position the bag on the sealing bar, then close and seal works much better.

I'm not the expert Andrew is, but generally the humidity in a ripening box is much higher just because the cheese itself is giving off moisture. In some cases your humidity can get too high in such a box, in which case you can leave the lid only partially sealed.

Most all cheeses have an initial room temperature/room humidity period right after making/pressing. This allows the outside of the cheese to dry slightly. I believe there are still pH changes going on during this period as well.
haha I'm not an expert. You should see my failures, oof.
 

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I've made some fresh cheeses but deferred any aged cheeses due to lack of a chamber and unwilling to build one

my basement is naturally at 55F this time of year - could I just use a simple Tupperware "ripening box" to provide the humidity?
 

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haha I'm not an expert. You should see my failures, oof.
I can't find your picture, but I believe it was a Shropshire Blue that maybe did not have enough annatto. Just a stunningly pretty effort! Got me interested in cheese making for sure! If you can find it post it please.
 
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I can't find your picture, but I believe it was a Shropshire Blue that maybe did not have enough annatto. Just a stunningly pretty effort! Got me interested in cheese making for sure! If you can find it post it please.
Link below. Not sure why I labeled that thread as a gorgonzola, that was a mistake.

 

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I'm not the expert Andrew is, but generally the humidity in a ripening box is much higher just because the cheese itself is giving off moisture. In some cases your humidity can get too high in such a box, in which case you can leave the lid only partially sealed.

Most all cheeses have an initial room temperature/room humidity period right after making/pressing. This allows the outside of the cheese to dry slightly. I believe there are still pH changes going on during this period as well.
I am a bit confused on the subject of the ripening box :) :) When you say ripening box you mean a plastic box right? Kind of like a lunch box? With a lid. The vacuum bag comes after the cheese has already been ripened inside of a plastic ripening box, right?

The vacuum bags are for aging the cheese for longer times. After it has already been somewhat ripened, right?

I could use a big plastic lunch box for this? And keep the lid slightly open? And then keep the cheese inside that box, and store that box in the wine fridge?

And then after a while of ripening I move that cheese from the ripening box, to a vacuum bag, when enough time has passed. But how do I know when it is time and the cheese is ready to be moved from the plastic box to the vacuum bag?
 
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I am a bit confused on the subject of the ripening box :) :) When you say ripening box you mean a plastic box right? Kind of like a lunch box? With a lid. The vacuum bag comes after the cheese has already been ripened inside of a plastic ripening box, right?

The vacuum bags are for aging the cheese for longer times. After it has already been somewhat ripened, right?

I could use a big plastic lunch box for this? And keep the lid slightly open? And then keep the cheese inside that box, and store that box in the wine fridge?

And then after a while of ripening I move that cheese from the ripening box, to a vacuum bag, when enough time has passed. But how do I know when it is time and the cheese is ready to be moved from the plastic box to the vacuum bag?
That's right. Don't bag the cheese until it's all done and you're looking to store it.

Regarding how to know when it's done, just follow a recipe as closely as possible. There are many different kinds of cheeses, so there isn't one answer to your question.

Get this book if you can: https://www.amazon.com/Home-Cheese-...&keywords=cheese+making&qid=1616717901&sr=8-4
 

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Link below. Not sure why I labeled that thread as a gorgonzola, that was a mistake.

Lol, I should have remembered that dude, but that’s one of the most beautiful blues I have ever seen!
 

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That's right. Don't bag the cheese until it's all done and you're looking to store it.

Regarding how to know when it's done, just follow a recipe as closely as possible. There are many different kinds of cheeses, so there isn't one answer to your question.

Get this book if you can: https://www.amazon.com/Home-Cheese-...&keywords=cheese+making&qid=1616717901&sr=8-4
Ah, how great :) I am gonna get that book.

Do you normally keep the lid on your ripening boxes slightly open? To get some air in there, circulating around your cheese? Or do you keep your boxes completely shut? But with about 2/3 of air to cheese ratio in there?

I guess it differs for your different cheese right?
 
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Ah, how great :) I am gonna get that book.

Do you normally keep the lid on your ripening boxes slightly open? To get some air in there, circulating around your cheese? Or do you keep your boxes completely shut? But with about 2/3 of air to cheese ratio in there?

I guess it differs for your different cheese right?
I close the containers. I think it's the only way to ensure the humidity is high.
 

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I close the containers. I think it's the only way to ensure the humidity is high.
Ah ok 👍

So there is no chance that the cheese "dies" in there or something? For example, the cultures.

Could this method also be used for doing the initial drying, after pressing, in room temperature? I am then talking about the first week when the cheese should be dried in room temperature, and is turned every day, for the first week or so.

Maybe the box could then act as a better drying agent, than just plain room temperature without cover?

Since it is cold season now, and drier air outside and inside, perhaps the cheese would dry up in a better fashion this way, during the first week after pressing? Without cracking.
 

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I also wonder if you guys knows what happens if my mesophilic culture never got really active during the cheese making? Is the cheese then screwed, or could it still age quite well somehow?

I think the mesophilics I had out in room temperature never really got started :) But I used them as an acidifier in the milk anyway. Just in case there were some active ones in there.
 

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That, Dwarfking. is an interesting question. Let me ask: what does it mean to suggest that a culture that prefers and thrives in lower temperatures ""never got started". I never buy dried cultures but always use kefir I make from grains. Kefir has both meso- and thermo-philic cultures but the meso cultures acidify the milk and flavors to the curds. Unless you are using compounds that kill the culture (iodized salt, or you are dissolving rennet or calcium chloride in chlorinated water) the cultures will grow and thrive even at low temperatures. The only other reason I can think of that would prevent mesophilic cultures from ripening your milk would be if you cooked them at too a high temperature. But they would have begun reproducing while you were allowing the milk to ripen, while the rennet was coagulating the curds and while you were breaking up the curds and stirring.

Do you have any way to check the pH of your cheese? That would give you a better sense of how active the cultures have been and are still.
 
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passedpawn
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It's possible you can fix your relay. I just fixed mine. It's running fine right now.






View attachment 630879
Exactly same problem again. VERY easy to fix (after you remove the ruined cheese etc from your fridge). The easy solution is to just rotate this little disk. I'm tempted to slide a penny in there haha.

1637713543061.png
 
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