The search for a new cow continues. At some times of the year there are cows for sale everywhere you look; now they're quite sparse. But I'm waiting to hear from a farm - hopefully I'll be bringing home a cow next Sunday! In preparation of the cheesemaking to come, I'm setting up two fridges in my room (dorm-size) for aging. My plan is to have one for harder wheels and cured meats, the other for soft, mold ripened cheeses. My biggest obstacle with making cheese in the past was ripening. A wheel of cheddar will grow a multi-hued patchwork of mold - which is just fine because it can just be trimmed off. But a piece of cheese such as camembert needs an exact temperature and humidity. Otherwise the delicate mold will grow inconsistently, or dry up, or just die. But even the hard cheeses will benefit from a better environment. With enough airflow and the proper temperature and humidity, the mold will be more manageable, able to be brushed down to form a thin natural rind.
Here is the new and improved fridge: I bought a switch timer, so the fridge turns on and off in 30 minute intervals, keeping the temperature at an average of 55 degrees. Two computer fans provide air circulation. And I'm taking it for a test drive with an experimental piece of charcuterie. On the 4th of July I smoked a bunch of meat over a wood fire - most of it barbecue for that night's dinner - but when the heat died down I cold smoked a flank steak (courtesy of Mac...). This I cured with salt, sugar, juniper, rosemary, and thyme. After four days of curing I dried it off, rolled and tied it, and moved it into the fridge. Only time will tell!