Enzymatic processes responsible for the evolution of ripening paste are influenced, besides intrinsic factors, by external environment, which regulates enzymatic processes themselves and the flora that generates them.
Among parameters for regulation of cheese ripening environment, temperature is probably the most important, since it is the easiest to set.
In general, we can say that for any kind of cheese, adopting a higher or lower ripening temperature than the ideal one will naturally reflect on a slower o faster aging, which will make cheese organoleptic characteristics different.
Temperature in ripening rooms is generally kept lower than the ideal one, because of bacteria growth and enzymes action; these factors allow us to slow down and guide aging processes.
Humidity and temperature conditions the development of cheese crust, which makes the product’s surface waterproof and less sensitive to evaporation and helps in keeping particular setting of the AW (Water Activity) parameter inside the paste. The lower is the environmental humidity, the lighter will be the cheese. After aging, for commercial reasons, can follow a longer conservation period.
A potentially incomplete ripening could be completed after conservation; wheels of cheese can be kept in aging warehouse for ripening until this is completed. At early stages of the industry, ripening took places in basements and natural caves, so conditions were typical: high humidity, fresh or cold temperature, minimum ventilation. Modern plants are designed to recreate those conditions, but in a specific way for any kind of cheese aging.
In fact, ripening warehouses’ conditions od temperature and humidity are not determined by time, but by microbiological and enzymatic processes instead: they mark cheese aging and quality.
Special air treatment units are employed to produce heat and cold temperature inside the cells. These units feature a software, which keep any temperature and humidity parameter steady: a crucial factor for a good cheese ripening.
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