I’ve been mothering a wheel of Bonnie & Floyd for three months now, and I can tell you that aging cheese properly during a Canadian winter isn’t easy, especially when one lives in a high-rise apartment building.
I received the wheel of my favorite Ontario sheep’s-milk cheese at the conclusion of a Cheesemaker for a Day program at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County in late November. Instructions from the caveman at Fifth Town, affineur Phil Collman, were simple: Age the cheese at a temperature of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, with humidity between 80 and 90 percent, and wash it weekly with a mild brine.
Easier said than done in an apartment building when outside temps drop to below -10 for weeks on end. Every corner of our apartment is of course too warm. Even our storage cage in the basement is too warm. And every corner of the underground garage is freezing or close to it. I finally found an unused, cluttered utility room where the temps at least were in the 5 to 10-degree range. By storing the cheese in a large plastic container with wet paper towels I could maintain the humidity at close to ideal, but there was little I could do about the cold. I’ve been able to average only 8.3 degrees over the 13 weeks so far.
In the purpose-built cave at Fifth Town, Phil Collman ages Bonnie & Floyd for three months. When I informed him of the conditions here, Phil suggested I take four months, noting that the humidity was more important than the temperature. So, I’ve been visiting the cheese twice a week to keep the paper towels wet—and the humidity holding at 80 percent.
Four months passed a few days ago since the wheel was made. I’m giving the cheese another two weeks until a special gathering of our extended family. I’ll be on tenterhooks when the tasting begins.
Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca.