Mold Control

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ondiferi

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Hello!

I'm amateur cheese maker and produce cheese using a modified Stracchino recipe, though I ripen it longer, aiming at creating a thin layer of tasty mold on the outside.

Problem: as my geotrichum develops slowly, other molds colonize my cheese:
  • a thinly spreading orange mold
  • buds of blue fluffy mold
So here's background info on the process:

Recipe:
  • Raw cow's milk
  • Home made yogurt as starter culture
  • Geotrichum Candidum
  • Vegetable Rennet
Processing:
  1. After curd is prepared in medium-sized cubes, it is drained in perforated plastic cheese cups
  2. Left to drain overnight
  3. Placed in cheese cave the next morning
  4. Salted on the 3rd day
  5. Flipped every day for 3 to 4 weeks.
Cheese Cave Setup:
I have a retrofitted top-down freezer with a temp and humidity controller. The Temperature is at 13C on average and Humidity at 90% on average. There's a mini-fan running 24/7 inside the cave to create some air circulation. Cheese wheels are placed on sushi mats, preliminarily cleaned, boiled and bathed in vinegar water. The mats rest on wooden shelves, stacked inside the cave. The cave is thoroughly washed before each new batch, and sanitized with a StarSan solution. The excess water in early days is drained.

So that's it. I don't know what to do. Honestly the two molds looks scary but they smell and taste good (I know this may freak out some of you). Anyway, I've survived them for more than a year now, but I want to be able to make proper cheese with the mold I decided would grow.

I thought of replacing the sushi mats with plastic or plasticized metal grids. But traditionally, we make age cheese on wooden boards, and cheese has been around long before plastic. So surely there's a way?

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mashpaddled

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How moist is the surface of the cheese before the geo blooms? If the cheese is going into the cave too wet or by salting so late you are drawing out moisture at the "wrong" time you could be creating the conditions for other mold or bacteria to grow first.
 
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ondiferi

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How moist is the surface of the cheese before the geo blooms? If the cheese is going into the cave too wet or by salting so late you are drawing out moisture at the "wrong" time you could be creating the conditions for other mold or bacteria to grow first.
Very moist!

How do you suggest proceeding instead?
 
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ondiferi

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I have not made stracchino yet but the recipes I have seen call for aging in the fridge or at 4C/39F.
That's right! Though here I'm trying to ripen it with some nice taste. Stracchino proper is pretty much a white cheese. Also normally, temperature for Geotrichum is 5-38 C as per this document. I'd think that 4 C would inhibit growth altogether.

This said, would lowering the temp really resolve the issue? It would if Geotrichum could grow at low temperature these two other molds cannot. However, I'm not sure this assumption is valid. I'd have to try to find out.
 
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Sweet cave!!!

I doubt lowering the temp is going to help much. I'd say your best solution is ensuring the good mold beats the bad mold. Perhaps mix up a spray bottle with geo and water and spray the cheese occasionally (I do that with fermented sausage). And of course, wipe down nasty spots with salty water.

And no, it doesn't scare me at all. From experience, I know that the worst looking stuff ends up pretty great (made this Shropshire Blue a couple of years ago).

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