The way you store your cheese should make it last longer and taste great from the first bite to the final slice. But cheese humidity is just as important to deliciousness and shelf life as temperature. Let’s learn more about the best humidity level for cheese and the tools we use to measure it.
Does Cheese Like Humidity?
First, let’s discuss what “humidity” really means. In the simplest terms, humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air in our environment. We’re all familiar with the feel of thick, sticky air against our skin on a humid summer day.
When we talk about cheese and humidity, we’re actually talking about relative humidity (RH). Relative humidity describes the amount of water in the air as a percentage of the maximum amount of water the air can hold at a given temperature. Warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air, so relative humidity and temperature have an inverse relationship.
So, does cheese like humidity? A resounding yes, although different cheese styles ripen and store best at different humidity levels.
Should Cheese Be High or Low Humidity?
Overall, cheese prefers high-humidity environments at temperatures ranging from around 45 to 70 degrees, though cheese may be stored at temperatures as low as 38 degrees after aging.
What’s the Best Humidity Level for Aging Cheese?
Cheese ages at a pretty high relative humidity, typically somewhere between 75% RH and 95% RH when cheese is held at a temperature of between 50 to 55 degrees. The ideal cheese humidity level will depend on the temperature of the aging environment, so it must be carefully calibrated.
If the humidity in the cheese cave is too low, the cheese can dry out or not ripen properly. If cheese humidity is too high, the cheese can grow unwanted molds or ripen too quickly and develop undesirable textures and flavors.
At What Humidity Level Should You Store Cheese?
In your kitchen at home, cheese is much more likely to suffer from too little moisture rather than too much. Your refrigerator is a pretty cold and dry environment, and those conditions can wilt leafy greens as well as damage artisan cheese. Compartments like vegetable crispers and cheese drawers are designed to provide some protection from that dryness and hold in the necessary humidity to keep perishable foods fresh.
We’ve found that the best humidity level for aging cheese is between 70% to 99% relative humidity. The exact range will vary depending on the styles of cheese you have and the temperature at which you’re ripening them.
For storing cheese, the top of that range is a little lower. We designed the Cheese Grotto’s reusable clay brick to maintain a relative humidity of 70% to 90% so that your cheese lasts longer and tastes great.
How to Measure Cheese Humidity
Of course, to ensure that you’re storing cheese at the proper humidity level, you need to be able to measure that humidity. That’s where our digital hygrometer comes in.
Use our Polished Gold Finish Digital Hygrometer Thermometer to measure the humidity and temperature of the space in which you’re storing or aging your cheese. Of course, we recommend keeping your cheeses in one of our Cheese Grottos, because they create an environment with the consistent humidity and airflow cheeses need. We know cheese aficionados who store or age their cheeses in a wine fridge to regulate temperature and humidity, too.
Simply place the hygrometer thermometer into your Grotto to get real-time cheese humidity and temperature data. You can prop it upright between the shelves or against one of the walls so you can see it through the Grotto’s clear door, or lay it flat on one of the shelves. Keeping an eye on humidity lets you know when to soak the clay brick that humidifies the Grotto to maintain the ideal conditions for ripening and storing cheese.
To replicate the environment of a cheese cave, store cheese at temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees. You can also store aged cheeses for up to seven days between 60 and 70 degrees so they’re always at the perfect temperature to serve and enjoy.
If your kitchen is warmer than 70 degrees—or if you want your cheeses to last two to three weeks and still taste fresh and delicious—you can keep your Grotto in the refrigerator. The digital hygrometer will still measure the humidity inside the Grotto. The base level of humidity for storing cheese in the fridge is 70%, and once you add cheese, it should climb to around 75%
Have you ever used a cheese hygrometer? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!