Fresh air for cheese
Cheesemaking is an ancient art, but ripening efficiency can be improved with modern, controllable ventilation. Although suitable systems are available for modern premises, such methods do not adapt well to the traditional facilities used by the bulk of cheesemaking businesses. The EU-funded SMART-RIPE (New ripening room monitoring technology for improving the efficiency and sustainability of cheese ripening processes) project developed the work of a previous EU project, TRUEFOOD (2006-2010), which introduced new sequential ventilation technologies to control cheese ripening and reduce energy consumption. SMART-RIPE exploited the previous results to construct a prototype system demonstrating the TRUEFOOD concept. The development is intended to help smaller or traditional businesses optimise their ripening processes in an energy-efficient way that also minimises cheese mass loss. The system utilises innovative sensors and control software. SMART-RIPE's system consumes 40-60 % less energy during ripening. Such an outcome helps cheesemakers compete in a market demanding sustainability and low carbon dioxide emissions. The system has shown a 40 % reduced environmental impact compared to conventional systems. Additionally, the development lowers cheese mass loss (water evaporation) rates to between 0.6 and 0.9 %. The outcome means improved yield without lowering quality, resulting in minimal wastage. Other results for producers include the ability to remotely monitor ripening rooms, and the ability to expand the system to other ripening rooms at minimal cost. The SMART-RIPE technology allows producers to differentiate their products on the basis of quality and environmental impact. Additionally, the improved yields and lowered costs aid profitability.
Cheese ripening, sequential ventilation, cheesemaking, SMART-RIPE, TRUEFOOD