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RIPENING & AGING

Cheese needs a warm, moist environment with proper air circulation and oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange in order to develop. The rate of development is influenced by its ripening or aging environment’s temperature, the relative humidity (RH), and the degree of air circulation and ventilation in combination with the appropriate range of acidity (pH), moisture content, and salt content in the cheese. The size of a cheese as well as the number of them within a given space also influences the rate of development. One cheese within the space will create one level of humidity whereas more than one cheese in that same space will result in a higher humidity. Lower temperatures and humidity generally equate to slower cheese development. Cheeses with higher moisture levels will ripen faster; smaller cheeses faster than larger ones. If the humidity in the ripening area is too low, or the air circulation is too high, moisture will be drawn from the cheese, resulting in poor mold, bacteria or rind development, a cracked rind or surface, or too dry an interior.

It is in this final stage of development that the art of cheese making becomes apparent. The experience and creativity of the cheese maker come together one final time to help shape the finished character of the cheese. Your goal as the cheese maker is to attain the best conditions for the proper balance of temperature, humidity, and air circulation in order to produce the desired cheese.

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