The production of soft cheeses (such as Camembert or Brie) requires a more gentle approach than the one taken for molding hard cheeses. The cheese curd is transferred to cheese hoops, and gravity drains them overnight. The curd is then brined to stop the growth of lactic acid bacteria. Once the brining is complete, spores of the Penicillium candida strain are added to the cheese curd. This specific type of mold adds flavor and character to the cheese. However, the selection of mold is not random, and wild molds are a significant problem in this stage of production. The cheesemaker controls surface microflora growth by carefully regulating temperature and relative humidity. Again, this is a very specific process. Wild mold and bacteria are not a welcome addition, and are factors to be controlled. Mold ripened cheese matures much faster than hard cheeses. The entire process is complete within a few weeks or months.
Cheese, like other food products, is graded throughout the maturation process. Part of a cheesemakers skill comes from being able to properly grade the cheese coming out of maturation rooms and sent to retail stores. Obviously environmental factors play a significant role in the final grade of cheese products, and higher grades mean higher prices.
The Airocide NASA PCO technology has a role to play in cheesemaking much like it does in a produce packing house. I have highlighted throughout this piece where air quality issues present themselves during production, but it is important to keep in mind that maturing cheese spends several weeks to several years in a cold storage room. This leaves long periods of time for spoilage to occur. It is also very favorable to performing Airocide tests. I think the cheese industry should be on everyone’s mind, and we should be looking for ways to increase our footprint in this globally pervasive industry. To be a modern improvement on this most ancient craft.
Our US Perishables team has done a fabulous job of this, and even produced a relevant case study. In this particular case the dairy was concerned with the growth of bacteriophage. This virus was infecting the lactic acid bacteria used to ferment the milk, and causing entire vats to spoil. The cost associated with this spoilage was around US $6,000 per batch. I encourage you to read this study carefully, and look for ways to replicate this success. Please share your success stories with us when you do. I would love to feature it in the Airocide Advantage.
Chief Science and Technology Officer, Airocide