Microbioal Biogeography of Northeast Cheese Caves
SURVEY of MYCOLOGICAL GROWTH and MICROBIALLY-RELEVANT ARCHITECTURAL CONDITIONS
ACROSS CHEESE CAVES in the US NORTHEAST
COLLABORATION WITH WOLFE LAB (TUFTS UNIVERSITY)
Boston / 2019
Working with mycologist Megan Biango-Daniels in the microbial ecology group at the Wolfe Lab, I am in the pilot stage of an observational study of fungal growth on the walls of cheese aging facilities. This study will track potential correlations between patterns of growth and underlying construction, maintenance and cleaning practices, and interior environment conditions like temperature and humidity. Perhaps more fundamentally, we are also working to test a range of methodologies for collecting this data and systematizing a microbially-relavant charactization of cheese buildings, to begin stabilizing a set of the most significant architectural and building science metadata to track in characterizing the microbial life of building, to allow for more systematic comparison of growth across different locations.
PARAMETERS OF INVESTIGATION
CONSTRUCTION AND SAMPLING PLANS
FOR PILOT STUDY
TOOLS OF INVESTIGATION
ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS SURVEY for BUILDING OPERATOR
|How big is your building?
|How tall are its ceilings?
|What was your building used for before it was a cheese cave?
|TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY
|How do you maintain your building's temperature and and humidity conditions for cheese quality?
|What is the main structural material of the building?
|If framed, what is the sheathing material on the walls of your building?
|What is the interior surface cladding/coating on the walls?
|What is the interior surface cladding/coating on the floors?
|AGING SHELF MATERIAL
|What are the aging shelves and other food contact surfaces made of?
|Affordability // Time of Construction and Maintenance
|How expensive was your space to construct?
|How much does it cost to maintain (cleaning and maintaining production conditions)?
|How much does it cost to maintain (cleaning and maintaining production conditions)?How much time does it take to clean and maintain production conditions in your building?
|RENOVATION for EASE
|Have you designed or renovated your building to make it easier to manage cheese quality?
|WHAT to RENOVATE
|If you could, what would to renovate to make it easier to manage quality?
|WANT MONITORING TOOLS?
|Would it be helpful to have simple tools to monitor conditions (e.g.: water activity, microbial growth) in your building yourself?
|Would it be easier to manage quality if you had data about:
Traditionally, cheese caves have had thick, heavy, porous walls, made of materials like stone, earth, or more recently, concrete. Thick, porous walls help to buffer the cool and humid conditions needed for aging cheese, making caves a natural choice for early cheese makers. In the US today, many cheese makers use thin, hollow wall assemblies, layered with an impermeable surface coating on the inside. This helps keep aging rooms easy to clean, but leaves operators reliant on mechanical services for temperature and humidity control, as well as vulnerable to condensation and moisture migration inside of layered wall assemblies. In this work, I hope to better unpack and qualify the trade-off’s between these two construction types, layered and monolithic, to help food makers choose the best architectural strategy for their operations.
Layered, hollow wall construction at Door Artisan Cheese in Wisconsin
Monolithic concrete wall construction at Leprino Foods, makers of pizza cheese, in Colorado