What’s the right humidity level for cheese? Whether you’re building a cheese cave so you can age cheese at home or want your cheese to last longer and taste better, hitting the right humidity level is really important. Here’s how moisture can make or break the cheese in your refrigerator, plus tips to measure cheese humidity.
How Moisture and Humidity Affect Cheese
It’s very important to control humidity while aging and storing cheese. If humidity is too low, the cheese could dry out, or beneficial microbes could be inhibited from growing. However, if humidity is too high, the cheese could ripen too quickly or develop undesirable microbes that create off-flavors.
If the humidity in the aging or storage space is too high, moisture could condense and build up on the cheese itself or on other surfaces. That’s not good, because collected moisture can affect cheese texture, promote the growth of unwanted molds, or even affect food safety.
That’s why it’s smart to ensure that the cheese you buy has adequate humidity—and to monitor that humidity so you can adjust it as needed.
What’s the Proper Humidity Level for Cheese?
In a cheese cave, the cheesemaker or affineur must maintain a very high level of humidity, typically between 75% relative humidity and 95% relative humidity when cheese is kept at temperatures ranging from 50 to 55 degrees.
The best way to check the humidity levels in your fridge or Cheese Grotto is with a digital hygrometer. This simple, easy-to-use tool provides a clear readout of relative humidity in the space where you’re aging or storing cheese.
The Polished Gold Finish Digital Hygrometer Thermometer we sell in our online store measures and displays temperature, too. Here’s how to use a digital hygrometer when storing or aging cheese at home.
Which Part of the Fridge Is Best for Storing Cheese?
Your refrigerator is actually a pretty low-humidity environment when compared to the high levels of relative humidity needed to store cheese properly. It’s important to protect cheese with the right packaging and storage method that will maintain proper humidity levels, helping your cheese last longer and taste better.
One way to protect your cheese from that cold, dry air is to keep it in the vegetable crisper, which can provide more consistent temperatures and humidity levels than other parts of the fridge. You can also keep it in the cheese drawer, though temperatures may run higher and fluctuate more there. But both of those areas tend to get crowded with other foods, which can introduce collected moisture and damage your cheese.
We recommend storing your specialty and artisan cheese in a Cheese Grotto. This specially designed cheese storage box lets you maintain the ideal level of humidity for your cheese with its reusable clay brick. Just dunk it in water once a week or so, or when your digital hygrometer reads below 70%.
Kept in your refrigerator, cheeses in the Grotto can last for up to three weeks, unwrapped. Plus, it’s made of beautiful natural materials, just like a real cheese cave. Paired with a digital hygrometer, it’s the perfect way to store cheese at the right humidity level.
What are your favorite methods for storing cheese at the proper humidity? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!