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EMG

Cheese Making with Sous Vide Equipment

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I've been making cheese for a few years now, but it's a challenging hobby because it requires so much precision and consistency. The good news for home cheese makers is that Sous-Vide circulators are ideal for this. They actually make the task ridiculously easy now.

I recently purchased an Anova Circulator, and for the first time ever, in my years of making cheese, there were some "set-it-and-forget-it" steps. A welcome break especially since a typical cheese can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to make (plus pressing and aging, but we won't get into that here).

I included a pic of my current setup. The Anova did a wonderful job on my first try. The 1kw heater and the 12L/m empeller played are an important part for temp control, and cooking times. A weaker model probably would not be enough.

My current setup specs are :

- Carlisle 12 x 18 food container

- Stainless steel 6" half pan (cheap gauge... for better temp response... the thinner the better)

- Anova Circulator

Only one problem encountered with this setup:

The half pan floats when either cheddaring, acidifying or washing curd... Currently looking for a solution that would keep the half pan in place.

Anyways, just wanted to see if there's there's anyone else out there with a Sous-Vide setup as a cheese vat. Maybe we can give each other some pointers.

Happy cheese making!

anova-cheese.jpg


Edited by EMG (log)
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This is really interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about how you make the cheese? If there is room, is it possible to wrap a couple of bricks in plastic bags and use those to weigh your pan down?

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Looking forward to trying this myself once my Sansaire arrives.

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Problem with my setup solved!

I got some hooks from Ikea, peeled off the foam backing and inserted a 1/2" dowel cut to the right size. Now I just need to hook 2-3 lbs on each whenever I need to keep the vat from floating.

CHeese Vat Weight Hooks 1.jpg

Cheese Vat Weight Hooks 2.jpg

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This is really interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about how you make the cheese? If there is room, is it possible to wrap a couple of bricks in plastic bags and use those to weigh your pan down?

It takes quite a bit of experience to become a good cheese maker. It's really rewarding though! Here are the basics of making a typical cheese (you'll see why a sous-vide device facilitates cheese making). this is just an example:

1. Bring milk temperature to 88F

2. Add culture (can use buttermilk or yogurt for this step) and let sit at 88F for 45 minutes

3. Add calcium chloride

4. Add coagulant (rennet) and let sit at 88F for 45 minutes to 1 hour

5. cut the curd mass in 1/2 inch cubes and let sit at 88F for 10 minutes

6. Raise temperature by 2F every 5 minutes until you reach 102F, stirring the whole time.

7. Empty the whole content of the vat in a colander. Only keep the solids (curd), discard the liquids (whey).

8. return the curds (now a slab) to the empty vat and keep at 102F for 40 minutes, turning the slab of curds every 10 minutes.

9. ....

There are other steps in order to finish the cheese making process, but these first 8 steps are the ones involved with temperature control in the vat. This was just an example. A lot of cheeses have the exact same ingredients, but they slightly differ in the making process. It's quite intriguing how milk mixed with a bit of buttermilk and a coagulant can have so many different results.


Edited by EMG (log)

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The floating thing is a problem I never envisioned, but it makes sense. My current double boiler is stockpot size, about 12 qts and fairly heavy on the insert. I've never had any issues with it floating. But for the low gauge Carlisle steam pan...hmmm. Your stopgap solution seems pretty good. I will have to get my Anova in and see about other solutions. Immediate idea that comes to mind: two bungie cords clipped across the top.

Been making cheese for about a year, working my way slowly thru the Karlin book, in the order that she has them. I made Saint Marcellin, Valencay, and Epoisses today. I am deep into my bloomy and washed rind phase. For temp control I bought a commercial grade induction burner and that has worked really well. I can't imagine doing it on my apartment's crap electric range.

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Thank you for starting this topic. I am hoping it will be the impetus to get me back to cheese making which I abandoned due to a long spell of ill-health. I have both the Anova and the Demi and the Nomiku is waiting in the wings!

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I currently use the SousVideMagic and a countertop food warmer equipped with hotel pans.

Nice! What I like about SousVideMagic is the fact that you have no limit on the size of your vat. You can easily devise a 40 gallon vat. You'd only need a restaurant style SS sink on legs and a barrel warmer strapped around it and plugged into the SousVideMagic.

I'll certainly consider a PID or SousVideMagic if I'm compelled to bring my cheese making hobby to another level.

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EMG :

if you study various ways to insulate your 'main' container, both bottom and sides, im sure with the Anova your cheese making

would be to any quantity you desire.

you might get a very large X-Treme Colman cooler and modify that. of wrap up your current vessel in insulation.

Im very interested in what this is about, and I wish you well !

Who is planning on making Domaine du Bresse ?

http://francegourmet.com.au/shop/blue-vein-cheeses/domaine-de-bresse-per-kg/

Id be very interested.

:laugh:

anyway, I look forward to this thread.

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Sous vide cooker is good for pasteurizing raw milk and eggs.

dcarch

The issue of pasteurisation is an interesting one. Using sous vide long and slow pasteurisation is likely to give a different outcome to the high temperature, short time pasteurisation that is typically used.

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Sous vide cooker is good for pasteurizing raw milk and eggs.

dcarch

The issue of pasteurisation is an interesting one. Using sous vide long and slow pasteurisation is likely to give a different outcome to the high temperature, short time pasteurisation that is typically used.

I have been intrigued by both sides of the argument surrounding pasteurised milk and cheese making. I had assumed that one big advantage of making your own cheese is that - if you have a source - you can use raw milk.

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Sous vide cooker is good for pasteurizing raw milk and eggs.

dcarch

The issue of pasteurisation is an interesting one. Using sous vide long and slow pasteurisation is likely to give a different outcome to the high temperature, short time pasteurisation that is typically used.

Obviously I am talking about pasteurizing for small quantities for home use.

Like using raw eggs for making ice cream.

dcarch

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I have been intrigued by both sides of the argument surrounding pasteurised milk and cheese making. I had assumed that one big advantage of making your own cheese is that - if you have a source - you can use raw milk.

Yes, raw milk makes a richer cheese. The second best milk source (if raw is not available) is low-pasteurized/non-homogenized milk. Homogenization is the worst possible thing that could be done to milk. Almost all commercial cheeses are from pasteurized/non-homogenized milk. As consummers, we are quite used to the richness in that taste range.

A lot of home cheese makers will start out doing cheese with store bought milk (pasteurized AND homogenized). Those cheeses lack richness and quality. But once a home cheese maker uses a better milk source, the cheese has a real good chance to be even tastier than commercial cheeses, depending on the cheese makers ability to make a consistent batch of course.

Cheese can only be as good as the milk source will allow, the rest is up to the cheese maker.


Edited by EMG (log)

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I made some mozz yesterday using the sous-vide setup. It went really well! Adjusting the temperature every 5 minutes during the "cooking" step was a bit tricky though. When I did the "water" test a few weeks ago, I didn't factor in that the milk becomes a solid. So there's a slight learning curve there. I also over acidified the cheese, but that was my own fault. I put the curd mass in the refrigerator to finish it the following morning (the cold slows down the acidification), but I put the curd in the fridge when it was still too warm, so it probably still acidified for an hour or so in the fridge. I was still able to pull a stretch for the pasta filiata though.

The taste test passed. It's smooth, creamy and squeeky and is developing a nice piquante flavor since I added lipase (an enzime that gives an italian taste in cheese. Takes a day or two to kick in)

All-in-all, this was THE easiest cheese batch I've ever made. The circulator really simplifies things when making cheese!

Sorry for the lack of pics... here are a few:

Mozz-2013-10-10-01.jpg

Mozz-2013-10-10-02.jpg

Mozz-2013-10-10-03.jpg


Edited by EMG (log)

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Where'd you get your curd cutter? Time's been tight, will probably do my first sous vide cheese in the coming week.

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I built the curd cutter myself. I posted the instructions on how to build one at a cheese making forum. I'll post a pic. I'll also include a pic of the whole vat setup disassembled.

I made a caerphilly cheese yesterday, it's sitting in the brine for a few more hours and then will age for about 8 weeks. Next weekend, I'll make a Jalapeno Jack.

2013-11-16-Caerphilly-01.jpg

Curd Knife 1.jpg

Cheese vat disassembled.jpg


Edited by EMG (log)
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I tried making ricotta with my Anova and all I got was hot milk! :(

 

I took my favorite recipe (1/2 gal of whole milk, 1/2 tsp citric acid, 1/2 tsp salt) and cooked half the traditional way (brought to 85-95C on the stove, then rested for 10 min before straining) and the other half in a ziplock bag in a water bath at the recommended temperature of 78C for 1 hour (no resting period). The traditional method gave me my usual result, but nada for the Anova. Thoughts? From what I read 70C is sufficient so maybe 1 hour wasn't long enough? Note that my milk was at the end of its shelf life. 

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Do the 78 oC refer to the bath or the milk temperature in your SV set-up ?

Depending on the size of your SV bath and the starting temperature of your milk, with probably no agitation other than convection inside your milk, it might not have reached an even 70 oC ...

 

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The temperature of the bath. It dropped by a few degrees when I added the ziplock bag containing the milk, but didn't take much time to re-equilibrate. At the end it was very hot, I managed to burn my fingers while "straining" the hot milk. I am still not sure what went wrong. 

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