During this stage, the cheese acquires the taste and character appropriate to its species. Ripening can last for several days to several years. During this stage, carefully control the temperature and humidity of the room where the cheese matures. The right temperature is very important for the development of bacteria that we added to the milk at the very beginning. In turn, their development will ensure a sufficient level of acidity, thanks to which the cheese will be preserved. Most cheeses require a temperature between 8 and 16°C and a fairly humid environment - 75-95%. The key aspect of the maturation process is the constant exchange of gases emitted by the cheese (including carbon dioxide and ammonia) and oxygen present in the atmosphere.
A room where a temperature generally does not exceed 20 ° C is better than a fridge for a home ripening room. If the air temperature is too low, the starter culture will not develop sufficiently and as a result we will not get good cheese. If the temperature is too high, the taste of the finished cheese will be too spicy and pungent, and its texture will also suffer. It may also develop unwanted mould and will require more frequent checks.
Moulds can also develop if the humidity is too high. On the other hand, if the humidity is too low, the cheese may shrink and cracks may appear on its surface. When small scratches appear, just smear the cheese with a small amount of butter. The details of the maturation process depend to a large extent on the type of cheese concerned.
Soft cheeses are usually not ripening, but you can experiment from time to time by subjecting one of the home-made cheeses to pressing and maturation. In some recipes, e.g. for gervais and bondon cheeses, information is provided on the pressing and ripening of soft cheeses.
Store hard cheese on a clean cheese board in a place where the temperature remains at 12.5 degrees Celsius with 65-85% humidity. Most basements meet these conditions.
You may also consider buying an inexpensive store cooler or regular fridge. Place a bowl of water on the bottom shelf, set the temperature to 12.5 ° C and we have the perfect home ripening room.
During the first few weeks, the cheese should be turned over daily, then it is enough to do it several times a week. Turning prevents the accumulation of liquid at the bottom of the cheese, and thus rotting.
The longer the cheese matures, the stronger the taste. For most hard cheese this period is min. 60 days. Some cheeses (e.g. Parmesan cheese) may mature for several years to develop a very sharp taste. Inexperienced cheese-eaters are often tempted to taste their work before the end of maturing, but it is worth showing patience and waiting for real delights.
Hard cheese tasting
After a month or a longer time, you can use the cheese sampler to assess whether the cheese has ripened. During cheese competitions, the tool is used by judges to examine the taste, aroma, acidity, fat and liquid content, texture and compactness of the cheese mass.
Insert the sampler into the side of the cheese (at the same time pay attention to the resistance posed by the cheese thickener). Take out a small piece of cheese and roll it in your fingers. Smell and taste the cheese heated in this way (at this stage it is easy to catch the smell of rotten cheese). Insert the cheese "plug" back into the resulting hole and cover the gap around the "plug", spreading a little cheese previously warmed with your fingers. If necessary, leave the cheese to ripen further.
Soft-ripened, smear-ripened and blue cheese
These types of cheese ripen in cool, humid rooms to allow intense bacterial growth both on the surface and inside the cheese. Typical conditions are 7 ° C and 85-95% humidity. A detailed description of the ripening techniques for synovial and blue cheese can be found on our website.