Ripening Edge

For the past 18 months here in Cooleeney we have been involved in an EU-research project (SMART-RIPE) relating to new ripening room technology.  Since the beginning of cheese production in Cooleeney back in 1986 our ripening rooms were designed to operate with refrigeration cooling at the required temperature to provide optimum humidity for the ripening of the cheese and development of the white mould which is characteristic of our cheeses.  During the time period in the ripening room humidity levels sometimes meant having to move cheeses to another room for drying to occur.  This new system should facilitate improved control on the rate of moisture reduction during ripening.

The opportunity presented to us in this EU project seemed like a wonderful chance to experiment with testing the new technology now available and offering us the facility to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our cheese ripening process and ultimately having a more satisfying product to offer to our customers.  We decided to

partake and join UCD’s Biosystems and Teagasc’s Agriculture & Food Development Authority in testing this new technology in our ripening rooms. New sensors and monitoring equipment were installed to measure temperatures, CO2 levels, humidity and cheese mass and the project proper began. Power consumption during the ripening period would also be monitored and our aspirations are that a reduction in electrical costs will be found when the project ends.   Automatic recording of all the factors listed commenced and the cheese was assessed at the end of its shelf life for physical, organoleptic, chemical & microbiological characteristics as well as cheese mass loss during the ripening process.

We are happy to report that the results emerging at this stage are giving us a certain level of optimism as we approach the final stages of this EU project and await the final outcome when all the trials have been scrutinised and finally evaluated. 

SmartRipe website

www.smart-ripe.eu

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