mold on havarti
- December 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm #14053
I am a beginner home cheese maker. My 2nd cheese was havarti. The recipe calls for aging in the cave at 55F and 85% humidity for 4 weeks. After 10 days mold started to develop. I wiped off the cheese with heavy brine solution but the mold kept coming back. finally I sprayed with Natamax after wiping and that helped alot but there was still some mold. So I vacuum sealed the cheese. What should I do now? Can the cheese still be eaten?January 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm #14135
Mold is a common thing on cheese, and depending on what kind it’s not that big of a deal.
Most hard cheeses you will need to “rub” every week or so to prevent an overgrowth of mold, and almost all of them will develop some mold growth. You can read about different rubbing options in most good cheese making books. In some cheeses a natural “good” mold rind is desirable.
Blue mold can be quite invasive if not taken care of, and is often caused by too much humidity. White mold is pretty harmless. Black mold can be a problem. Vacuum sealing is a great way to age cheese and cut down on the maintenance. You can always keep aging it and cut off the rind when it’s time to eat it.January 28, 2014 at 5:10 am #14140
Thanks for the suggestions. I tasted the cheese this past week and it’s pretty “off”. Have you used Natamax mold inhibitor before? I’m using that now but still nervous about aging cheese in my cave without vacuum sealing.January 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm #14157
When you say “off”, do you mean it doesn’t taste the way you hoped/good (because that could be caused by many other reasons)? Personally, I don’t get too worried unless it’s black mold which can give some seriously off flavor. I just “rub” (different methods depending on the cheese) unwanted mold away. The brining step is in cheeses like Havarti as it helps inhibit bad mold growth.
I’ve never used any mold inhibitors before. I use local raw milk for my cheese, and for the most part embrace a little mold as part of the process. That being said, in the beginning I do rub my cheese with a saturated brine solution every few days to keep it in check. You can also use a vinegar + salt solution.
I don’t have a lot of experience with aging by vacuum sealing. I’ve only vacuum seal my cheese if I cut the wheel and want to keep aging part of it or just to extend the life of cut pieces. I think with something like Havarti your cheese will end up being on the wet side if you vacuum seal. It’s worth a try though!
Another great option I’ve discovered is to rub your cheese in honey. Honey has some pretty amazing properties including anti-microbial benefits! You can’t completely neglect your cheese but I’ve found it will develop mold at at least 1/2 the rate of normal cheese. Another option is a balsamic vinegar bath.
Before you scrap your cheese I would try being more aggressive with rubbing it – possibly every day or so, possibly clean it and re-brine it, or cut the mold off. However, do what ever makes you the most comfortable and if you genuinely feel it will make you ill don’t eat it.
Good luck and don’t get discouraged!January 31, 2014 at 10:43 am #14158
By “off” I mean it tastes a little musty and has a sharpness to it that I don’t associate with Havarti. But I still plan to eat it. I cut the mold away. I had a beautiful mixture of molds (!). A little blue some black hairy looking stuff, and pale pink. I love the idea of using honey. And your explanation about vacuum sealing causing moist cheese is very helpful. I’m making my first cheddar tomorrow so wish me luck!February 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm #14168
That musty flavor is definitely from the mold. LOL at your mold mosaic Some natural rind cheeses are quite the works of art! Ah, the wonder of cheese making!
One last thing, I’ve found mold problems frequently originate from improper air circulation. In my cave I have open slat shelves with cross stitch plastic on top for maxim circulation (as opposed to individual aging boxes.) I’ve found that helps a lot, along with brine rubbing and regular flipping.
Best of luck and happy cheese making!
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