Ripening cheese, how to do it? What do you need to ripen cheese? Where does the ripening of cheese take place? What is the influence of the cheese ripener? Why is the ripening of cheese so important for the taste? And how long should a cheese ripen?

What do you need for the ripening of cheese?

Ripening cheese, how to do it? To ripen cheese you need time, money and patience. Ripening cheese is like an investment. After all, the cheese is bought for a certain amount and then sold for a higher amount after a maturing period.

The ripening of cheese is a long process, which can take a few weeks or even a few years depending on the desired taste. As a cheese ripener, who is responsible for ripening the cheese, you will therefore have to estimate how much cheese you think you will trade in the future. To illustrate: due to the unsteady sales pattern in the corona period, 1-year-old cheese was very scarce, because a small amount of cheese was stored to ripen at the beginning of the corona period. In addition, the sales a year later were higher than expected, because consumers started eating more mature cheese. This resulted in a general scarcity of old cheese. To ripen cheese, you need to have patience, ‘making’ old cheese is not possible.

Where does the ripening of cheese take place?

We ripen cheese in our cheese warehouse. A place that has been specially designed to provide the ripening of cheese to take place under ideal conditions. Indeed, provide to take place, because in fact the ripening of cheese happens automatically.

Time is ticking, you can’t influence this process. But what is it you can influence as a cheese ripener?

Archive photo: inspecting cheese in our authentic warehouse (1994)

What is the influence of the cheese ripener?

The circumstances, that’s where the cheese ripener can make the difference. Temperature and humidity are the most important influences on the taste and structure of the cheese. As a cheese ripener it is therefore important to know how to control these two influences. Too high humidity causes mold on the cheese, too low humidity causes the cheese to lose too much moisture and thus dry out too much, which affects the taste. The following applies to temperature: too high a temperature causes the cheese to ‘sweat’ (= lose a lot of moisture), too low a temperature results in a very slow ripening, which is not attractive from an economic point of view.

In addition to the influences mentioned, there are a few other factors that influence the ripening of cheese. The shelves on which the cheese is ripening, for example. These pine shelves ensure that the moisture that comes from the cheese is drained. In addition, timely turning and coating of the cheese is important for ripening. By turning the cheese in time and providing it with a layer of protective cheese coating, drying out and mold formation on the rind is prevented.

Why is the ripening of cheese so important for the taste?

Old cheese matures for about 11 to 15 months. After these 15 months, the age of the cheese is referred to as ‘over-aged’. During ripening, the cheese loses moisture. For example, aged cheese has lost 30% of its original weight. One of the reasons why old cheese is more expensive than young cheese.

Due to the loss of moisture, the cheese becomes drier and therefore more spicy; other substances (such as fat and salt) do remain in the cheese. That is why a young cheese is very smooth, but still has little taste. While an old cheese is less creamy, but has a fuller taste.

How long should a cheese ripen?

How long a cheese has to ripen depends on the desired final product. Do you want a young, soft and mild cheese, or an old, hard and spicy cheese? In the table below you will find an overview of our names and normal ripening periods:

Name:Ripening period:
Young  4 – 6 weeks
Mild matured  6 – 10 weeks
Matured14 – 18 weeks
Extra matured26 – 40 weeks
Old11 – 15 months
Extra old15 months or longer

The above overview applies to our pasteurized Gouda cheeses. We take into account a longer ripening time for our raw-milk farmer’s cheeses. This is due to the fact that cheese made from raw milk ripens more slowly than cheese made from pasteurized milk.

The best period of cheese

For all types of cheese there is a certain moment it is at its best. That is why some cheeses are better suited for maturing than others. Because each type of cheese is made according to a different recipe, they all have their own period when the taste is at its best.

This fact applies in particular to farmer’s cheese. Farmer’s cheese is made from raw milk and because the milk is raw, a taste deviation can occur during ripening. This means that the cheese tastes different (less tasty) than intended.

There is no accounting for taste…

It is therefore important that the farmer’s cheese is inspected every now and then during ripening, so the development of a taste deviation can be detected as early as possible in the ripening stage. As soon as a slight taste deviation is detected, the cheese should be consumed as soon as possible. To ripen the cheese longer makes no sense, because the taste of the cheese will only deteriorate in the event of a deviation. Moreover, there is a market for different, old farmer’s cheeses. There is no accounting for taste…

By being critical during the ripening process, you will eventually get the best cheese.

Cheese with a constant taste that meets the expectations of our customers.