For the past two decades, options for what to do with your old fridge have been limited to turning it into a beer fridge or, if you're a bit more committed and own some power tools, a kegerator. But instead of banishing it to the garage or hoping that somebody won't flake out after contacting you about your Craiglist ad, consider turning your old fridge into a cheese cave.
It's your first step towards getting off the cheese grid and becoming fully cheese independent. Kraft conspiracies aside, a cheese cave is the modern equivalent of those natural structures that are perfect for allowing cheese to age in a cool, humid place. By carefully monitoring the temperature and humidity levels, you can make your own cheese.
The modifications to a fridge are minimal. You just need a temperature regulator and a pan of water or damp cloth. Also, you'll want to give your fridge a good cleaning to ensure there's no mold or contaminants -- your cheese is going to be aging a while.
Your mini fridge can become your new cheese cave, but you can also use Tupperware containers. More important than what the cheese is stored in is where and how it's stored. Whatever allows you to best regulate the temperature should guide your choice.
Like the world of home brewing, the world of home cheese making seems to have its fervent believers. One of the strongest has to be Professor David Fankhauser, PhD., who maintains a comprehensive guide, with a series of recipes and step-by-step instructions for making fresh and aged cheeses. In addition to Fankhauser's page, the Fias Co Farm has a list of supplies and equipment you might want to consider purchasing.
And if you're still on the fence, you don't need to go for the cheese cave right away. One of the most basic recipes for cheese involves turning goat's milk yogurt into goat cheese -- it just requires time and cheesecloth. Those who are more ambitious can try and tackle fresh mozzarella.
While cheese caves aren't quite standard-issue for houses in the suburbs, just give the Food Network time.
[Image via Flickr: steve p2008]