Cave Cheese

Chill out with cave cheese

Cave cheese is cool. Literally. For centuries, cheesemakers used the naturally lower temperatures in caves to age cheeses to perfection. Today, cheesemakers are returning to these old-fashioned techniques to produce gorgeous goudas, primo parmesans, champion cheddars, and stellar swiss cheese like gruyère. When you're sampling a cave-aged cheese, you can almost taste the dark ambiance and meaty flavors the cave imparts in every bite.

Here in Wisconsin, our cheesemakers are no strangers to cheese caves, both natural and human-made. They're always seeking new ways to make the tastiest, highest-quality cheese in the world – and sometimes that means returning to old ways as well. But that's what you'd expect from cheesemakers who have been improving on old-world recipes for 175 years – and winning cave-loads full of awards for it, too.

We'd love to introduce you to some of our best cave cheese. Take a look through our website to find some great cave-aged cheddars and goudas. Search our recipe index for a new mac and cheese recipe featuring a Wisconsin white cheddar or quintuple-cream blue. Or scroll down for more facts about cave-aged varieties from the State of Cheese.

Why make cheese in caves?

Caves have become a big part of how cheese is made for several reasons.

The consistent temperature in a cave – usually between 45° and 60°F year-round – is warm enough that the molds and bacteria in the cheese can go about their business, but cool enough so that things proceed at a nice even, pace that the cheesemaker can control.

Caves also tend to be humid places, with relative humidity between 75 and 99%, which helps keep a proper amount of moisture within the cheese. When stored in less humid places, cheeses will lose their moisture and essentially become a solid brick of dried milk curd.

Additionally, cave cheeses will tend to have bigger, more complex flavors. As it ages, the cheese will pick up the aromas of the cave, and occasionally the bacteria as well. In ancient times, blue cheeses like roquefort developed their funky veins from bacteria found within the soil in caves.

Today, while some cave cheeses are still aged in natural caves, many are ripened in caves that are manufactured by the cheesemakers to provide optimum conditions.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What is cave cheese?

What is cave cheese?

Cave cheese is any cheese that is ripened within a cave or cave-like environment, where consistently low temperatures and high levels of humidity are perfect for supporting the chemical reactions that take place in the cheese aging process. Cheese caves are also ideal for treating the cheese rinds with the mold, bacteria, and salt brine that are part of making bloomy cheeses and washed-rind cheeses.

Do you need real caves for cave cheese?

No. Many cheesemakers today build their own caves or cave-like structures.

Why choose cave cheese from Wisconsin?

The idea of aging cheese in caves was likely born from cheesemakers' constant experiments to make the perfect cheese. Today, nobody in the world is better at experimenting with cheese than Wisconsin cheesemakers. They've been obsessively making the world's finest cheese since before we were even a state. It's why we do more flavors and varieties of cheese than anywhere else on earth – by constantly pushing the boundaries of what cheese can be.

That's why our cheesemakers are the most-awarded bunch of cheese artists in the world, taking home more ribbons than any other state or country on earth. And that's why, when you're looking for a great cave cheese, it only makes sense to look to Wisconsin. When you see the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on a label of cave cheese, that's when you know you're in for a pretty cool treat.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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