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Those aren’t freezers. They’re caves — or at least that’s their function. The nine rooms that look like large, walk-in freezers or refrigerators were designed by French cheese manufacturers to act as cheese-ripening caves. They can accurately replicate the temperature and humidity of just about any environment on Earth, enabling the UW’s cheese researchers (and artisan dairy clients) to experiment with techniques to make new and improved cheeses. Each room has between 80 and 160 square feet of space and can handle about 400 pounds of cheese. According to Professor John Lucey, the UW calls the rooms caves because “historically cheeses were stored in caves to get these precise conditions.” Babcock Hall is believed to have the only facility like this outside of France.

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