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Making Cheese


Bouland
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It was a gallon of pasteurized, homogenized organic milk. I wasn't expecting anything especially stellar in terms of flavor; the fresh mozzarella sold in the grocery store around here is pretty bland stuff until you salt it. It's more the texture I was concerned about...I wanted the soft, squishy stuff and wound up with the string cheese.

(eta: I neglected to say that this was cow's milk, purchased from a grocery store. Nothing special.)

Edited by munchymom (log)

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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  • 2 weeks later...

I made some last night with the same recipe, but from her 30 minute kit.

One thing I noticed in the instructions was to be wary of ultra-pasteurized milk and that much organic milk ends up ultrapasteurized. That might be something impacting your texture.

However, I used regular old 4% milk, and ended up with the exact texture and slight disappointment you described.

I also noticed the recipe you linked to says 175 is the ideal temp for stretching and the instructions that came with 30 minute kit say 135. These seem far enough apart to have a serious impact.

I feel like I need to try it a few more times to get a handle on what the stretching/kneading should feel like and how it impacts the resulting texture.

It seems like less kneading and heat would give you more moisture and a softer/silkier texture at the end.

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Just chiming in here that I have tried the 30-minute mozzarella making once, same method as munchymom, with the microwave, using store-bought pasturized (not ultra) milk.

Then tried I tried another mozzarella making process again, but instead of microwave warming it by dunking cheese in boiling water, this time using raw milk from the dairy farmer a mile from me...

Same outcome both times -- essentially string cheese. Sigh. Haven't really had it in me to try it again lately...

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The 30 minute mozzarella always seems to come out like that. It's a good way to get people to cook more from scratch. I've had good luck making things like gloppy American style lasagna with everything from scratch - mozzarella, pasta, sauce, ricotta, etc with friends who buy frozen heat-n-serve lasagna. When they make the same dish again at home it takes half as long as is almost as good since they're using dried pasta, sauce from a jar, etc. Going a little overboard really seems to help show that regular home style cooking isn't difficult at all.

That said, I wouldn't waste the milk the milkman delivers on 30 minute plastic-mozzarella even if it took 30 seconds to make.

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The 30 minute mozzarella always seems to come out like that.  It's a good way to get people to cook more from scratch.  I've had good luck making things like gloppy American style lasagna with everything from scratch - mozzarella, pasta, sauce, ricotta, etc with friends who buy frozen heat-n-serve lasagna.  When they make the same dish again at home it takes half as long as is almost as good since they're using dried pasta, sauce from a jar, etc.  Going a little overboard really seems to help show that regular home style cooking isn't difficult at all.

That said, I wouldn't waste the milk the milkman delivers on 30 minute plastic-mozzarella even if it took 30 seconds to make.

According to this site--http://nv.essortment.com/makemozzarella_rkpy.htm--it's essential to use non-homogenized milk when making "mozzarella" from cow's milk at home. In other words, the sort that seems to come only in glass bottles, with the cream separated at the top.

Edited by StevenC (log)
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  • 1 month later...
I'm resurrecting this thread to see who else might be interesting in keeping a cheesemaking thread alive...

Kevin and I have gone down the path and become rather maniacal cheesemakers with some successes and some failures, all of which I am willing to share. Thus far, we have made a simple cheddar and a blue (both are now aging) as well as some goat which was eaten immediately. This week, throwing ourselves back into it, we have produced a sage cheddar (needed pressing longer), a caraway cheddar (looks great!), and two whey cheeses from the remainder. As I type, Kevin is in the kitchen now, heating up yet another batch of cheddar but we are experimenting with the addition of cream.

What I can't find on the 'net is a community of like-minded home cheesemakers who are sharing their experiences and/or recipes. Ricki Carrol's site has a few shared recipes from her readers. This site has a link to a discussion forum, but it doesn't seem to work for me.

We like the smell of the caraway cheddar and will probably experiment with making some that have other seeds or flavors but aren't finding exact recipes.

Care to come along and share your cheesemaking experiments?

Thanks for resurrecting the chese making thread.

I began making cheese last May and am still hooked.

I have attempted, with varying degrees of success, the following:

Epoisses

Afeuga'l Pitu (Spanish DOC cheese with hot pimenton)

Goat Tomme

Cow Tomme

Bleu des Causses

Crottin

Valencay

Ste Maure

Queso Murcia al Vino (Drunken Goat)

Munster

Camembert

Montenebro

Stilton

Chevrotin des Aravis (washed rind goat cheese)

Chevre Frais

Fromage blanc

I think that's it.

I've equiped two compact fridges to control temperature & humidity.

And I finally got my back-ordered press from New England Cheesemaking. I plan to start with Caerphilly tonight (only two months aging required).

I always use raw cow's milk, even for fairly short-aging cheese like camembert. I sometimes use raw goat's milk. Wish I could get sheep's milk.

I have a pretty big cheese library.

I would be happy to share recipes or info and would love to hear from any of you similarly afflicted with the cheese bug.

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Hey,

I just got started in cheesemaking. Have made a dozen or so batches of fresh mozzarella with mixed results. At first we started with $8/gal, organic non-homogenized milk and (believe it or not) didn't have much luck. As we got frustrated and started buying cheaper and cheaper milk our results got better and better. This could be due to a great many factors, but it's funny nonetheless. We have been unable to store it successfully. At first we tried a salt/water brine simliar to what fresh mozzarella comes in in the store. The cheese shrank, the outside got all slimey, and the core got really hard (like a tough string cheese). Not desirable results. Next we tried kneading it less (only to the point where it barely held together), and then double wrapped it in saran wrap and let it sit for a day or two in the fridge. That actually worked reasonably well. It was still more solid than then fresh mozzarella in the store, but the texture did improve (over the brine version), and generally was much better overall.

I have decided, though, that it's just best to eat homemade fresh mozzarella really fresh. It's very tasty that way. :)

We have just been using the citric acid/rennet version. Has anyone tried home cultured mozzarella? Are the results any better?

I also just made a cultured Skyr - a very thick yogurt from Iceland. It's techincally a really soft cheese and it's delicious! I hope I can keep my culture going. I hear a lot of people say their culture eventually dies. Does anyone know why this happens or how to prevent it?

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  • 1 month later...
Thanks for resurrecting the chese making thread.

I began making cheese last May and am still hooked.

I have attempted, with varying degrees of success, the following:

Epoisses

Afeuga'l Pitu (Spanish DOC cheese with hot pimenton)

Goat Tomme

Cow Tomme

Bleu des Causses

Crottin

Valencay

Ste Maure

Queso Murcia al Vino (Drunken Goat)

Munster

Camembert

Montenebro

Stilton

Chevrotin des Aravis (washed rind goat cheese)

Chevre Frais

Fromage blanc

I think that's it.

I've equiped two compact fridges to control temperature & humidity. 

And I finally got my back-ordered press from New England Cheesemaking.  I plan to start with Caerphilly tonight (only two months aging required).

I always use raw cow's milk, even for fairly short-aging cheese like camembert.  I sometimes use raw goat's milk.  Wish I could get sheep's milk.

I have a pretty big cheese library.

I would be happy to share recipes or info and would love to hear from any of you similarly afflicted with the cheese bug.

Do you think you could write an article on making cheese. It would be a big help.

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About 3 hours ago while deciding between looking for a job or raking the leaves, I had a better idea. Make ricotta for the first time, just for the hell of it :blink:

So I did, I raked the leaves too

gallery_23695_426_366617.jpg

later.....

gallery_23695_426_125073.jpg

tracey

Edited by rooftop1000 (log)

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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  • 1 month later...

I picked up the Carroll book a year or so ago and tried to make the Monterrey Jack a couple times, without much success. At least, it doesn't turn out looking, feeling or tasting anything at all resembling supermarket (I'm going by Cabot here...) cheese. It wasn't bad, it was just useless for its intended purpose (Nachos). I've got a small wheel of cheddar aging right now, as well as another wheel of the MJ in an attempt to see if a much longer aging helps, but has anyone else tried this so I have a basis for comparison?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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has anyone tried to make a halloumi?

"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

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I'm a little surprised by how few people here on eGullet have tried making hard cheeses - I would have thought that since the basic ingredients and equipment are easy to come by that there would be more experimenters out there -- it's a fun thing to tell other people you make, as well. I get surprised looks when I mention that the mayonnaise or the marshmallows are homemade, but when people find out the cheese is homemade, that's a whole different level. Plus, when it works, it tastes great!

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I made some cheese over the last 6 months. Mostly feta and soft cheese. But this is my first venture out into blue cheese.

I took a small culture from a cheap gorgonzola and used that as the base for it. It was a bit more runny than i wanted it to be.

It had a strong first flavour, but then quickly settled down to a creamy niceyness. I made two and one was used on no-knead bread and the other to some nice pasta dishes.

gallery_52600_5560_38829.jpg

http://www.grydeskeen.dk - a danish foodblog :)
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I'm a little surprised by how few people here on eGullet have tried making hard cheeses - I would have thought that since the basic ingredients and equipment are easy to come by that there would be more experimenters out there -- it's a fun thing to tell other people you make, as well. I get surprised looks when I mention that the mayonnaise or the marshmallows are homemade, but when people find out the cheese is homemade, that's a whole different level. Plus, when it works, it tastes great!

The bold is mine and I believe it is one of the difficulties in cheese-making; it doesn't always work and a lot of times, you might not know for months if you were successful or not. I have had intermittent success and failures, but more failures in my cheesemaking than in homemade mayo...

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it doesn't always work and a lot of times, you might not know for months if you were successful or not. I have had intermittent success and failures, but more failures in my cheesemaking than in homemade mayo...

True, but there is little challenge to making homemade mayo... I know not everyone cares for cooking challenges, but it seems to me that the folks around here are more interested in them than most :smile: .

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 4 months later...

Anatomy of a Cheese-Making Failure

A little over a year ago I put up a wheel of cheddar, following the recipe from Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making for the "Farmhouse Cheddar."

This recipe is a Cheddar shortcut. It's great when you want to have a Cheddar type of cheese but want to save time in the process. Farmhouse Cheddar can be dry and flaky, but is flavorful after only 4 weeks; therefore, it's a satisfying experience for your first hard cheese.

This is precisely why I chose this recipe: I don't have anyplace in my apartment to age a cheese at the appropriate temperature, so I was going to have to use the refrigerator. I figured if aging it at the correct temperature could be done in one month, going 12 months at a cooler temperature should yield acceptable results. Well, this is why I don't make cheese for a living: in short, it did not work.

Let me give you a little background: I did not jump right into Cheddar. I started by making Monterrey Jack twice, both times with less than satisfactory results (and both times I aged at as close to the proper temperature as I could). I began to wonder if it was just the recipe that I didn't like, so I decided to give Cheddar a go. Well, whatever problem I was having with my Jack, I had exactly the same problem with my Cheddar. When I sliced into the wheel, it had a crumbly texture and a fresh, unaged flavor. Could it be that I am using too low a temperature? Or is my bacteria dead? Did I kill them or did I get a dud batch? Has anyone else tried making cheese from this book and had the same problem? I keep ending up with something akin to Feta!!

gallery_56799_5925_61355.jpg

gallery_56799_5925_16098.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Hi Chris,

I'm not sure if it is related to your problem, but could a crumbly texture have anything to do with not pressing with proper weight? I have never made any hard cheeses precisely because I don't feel there is enough explanation in the books that I have about pressing. Home Cheese Making, specifically, does not do a good job of discussing the potential issues.

I know, from posts upthread, that Carolyn had troubles with her press, and I find that recipes talk about pressing with a certain weight for a given mold size--for example, two-pound--but it isn't clear to me what a two lb press mold is. This is especially the case because molds with a wide variety of diameters and heights could hold two lbs of cheese, and also since the presses that I have seen online talk about sizes in relation to number of gallons of milk that are initially used for the cheese, i.e., 2 or 5 gallons.

Also, I've seen that the more expensive presses have PSI gauges and this clearly means that it isn't simply weight that matters, but the amount of weight per square inch of cheese--I'm assuming the top surface here, though this is confusing in itself, as I can imagine a situation where a cheese could be spread more thinly in a wide mold, and would seem to require more weight to reach a given PSI, but would likely then over-press the cheese. At any rate, at the least, it seems to me that the presses that have a "50 lb" spring for both 2-gallon and 5-gallon cheese molds are not going to function properly as the top surface area of the 5-gallon cheese certainly will be larger, and therefore must require more weight to equal the same PSI as the 2-gallon cheese would. Is this all sounding about right here?

Another issue is that it seems that more whey will be expressed from the presses that have perforated molds as opposed to those that allow the whey to be expressed at the bottom of the mold. I can't imagine that this difference would be unimportant.

Are there any very experienced cheese makers here that can speak to these issues, and perhaps clarify if the crumbly texture that Chris is experiencing might be related to them? Also, what other problems could occur from over or under-pressing? I am assuming that too-dry or too-moist cheese could result?

Thanks in advance.

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Hopefully this post won't lead to my post directly above not being answered by someone, but I just found some interesting information that might diagnose your problem Chris.

In Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology Vol. 2, I found the following information under the cheddar section--which I have summarized:

The texture of cheddar should be right between plastic and mealy/non-cohesive. The pH that is necessary for the proper texture is about 5.2-5.0. Anything higher is too plastic, eventually becoming "curdy," and anything lower is too mealy and non-cohesive. To give some idea, they explain that American cheddar is higher moisture and higher pH (5.2), whereas British cheddars tended to range all the way down to 4.9 pH and be drier. I believe that they are referring to pH at the end of aging, though it is not fully clear to me. The book also points out that pH has more to do with cheddar texture than calcium or salt quantities, though they basically warn against adding extra calcium as it can damage the texture.

Unfortunately, that is the best that I could find. Did you make sure not to use ultrapasteurized milk? That might also have a negative impact.

I believe that even though Ricki Carroll says that checking the pH on her recipes isn't obligatory...still it is probably a good idea, and to take good notes so that you can compare the result of different batches taking into account differing pH, etc.

Keep in mind that this is all coming from someone who has never made a hard cheese and is only gleaning the above from reading, thinking, and experience with other complex foods.

I'm still hoping that someone will swoop in here and respond to the "cheese press dilemma."

Best,

Alan

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Chris,

Well, hoping that we could get some answers to the above questions, I posted a similar question to a cheese forum, requested some other books from the library, and e-mailed an expert for in-thread guidance. It looks like fortune is not smiling upon us, though, because so far I haven't come upon anything that seems to deal directly with the specifics of pressure in pressing. which could impact texture, or the issue of pH and texture. I'll keep reading what I can find, though. I am hoping to receive a few more books from the library that might help.

Best,

Alan

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Alan, thanks for staying on top of this! I have several things I am planning to try this fall to remedy my situation. I will finally have space to put in a curing chamber for cured meats, and I'm hoping that the temperatures and humidities are approximately the same for cheese making as well, so hopefully that will work out. I am also going to get fresh innoculant, and try a different source of milk. I think I am going to try to go "back to basics" first and keep working on a Monterrey Jack until I can get it to work right, and only then move on to the more challenging cheeses. My reach exceeded my grasp on that cheddar, I'm afraid :unsure: .

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm not sure if it is related to your problem, but could a crumbly texture have anything to do with not pressing with proper weight?  I have never made any hard cheeses precisely because I don't feel there is enough explanation in the books that I have about pressing.  Home Cheese Making, specifically, does not do a good job of discussing the potential issues.

I know, from posts upthread, that Carolyn had troubles with her press, and I find that recipes talk about pressing with a certain weight for a given mold size--for example, two-pound--but it isn't clear to me what a two lb press mold is.  This is especially the case because molds with a wide variety of diameters and heights could hold two lbs of cheese, and also since the presses that I have seen online talk about sizes in relation to number of gallons of milk that are initially used for the cheese, i.e., 2 or 5 gallons. 

Also, I've seen that the more expensive presses have PSI gauges and this clearly means that it isn't simply weight that matters, but the amount of weight per square inch of cheese--I'm assuming the top surface here {...} At any rate, at the least, it seems to me that the presses that have a "50 lb" spring for both 2-gallon and 5-gallon cheese molds are not going to function properly as the top surface area of the 5-gallon cheese certainly will be larger, and therefore must require more weight to equal the same PSI as the 2-gallon cheese would.  ...

All too true.

Cheesemaking and basic physics/mechanics seem to rarely run together!

The pressure is what matters and any weights are going to refer to a specific pressing arrangement only.

The pressure is just force divided by the area its applied to. And for a round piston (or "follower") the area is of course π r squared. So, multiply the radius by itself, then by 3 (rough approximation for π). Thus for a 3 inch internal diameter mould, the radius is 1.5 inches, so its area is 1.5x 1.5x 3 = about 6.75 sq inches.

But it gets even more murky when one realises that some people use a "Dutch Press" - where a weight is attached to a lever - when there is a force multiplication factor to consider as well. If the weight is attached to the lever 3x as far from the pivot as the piston, then the piston will exert a force of 3x the weight used!

So, if we hung 11 lb on such a dutch press, we'd exert a force of about 33 lb, and applying this to our 3 inch diameter mould, gets us close to a pressure of (33 divided by 6.75) about 5 psi on our cheese. (Which I think is the right ballpark to be in.)

The design of presses specifically for cheese is such that the force (and hence the pressure) doesn't drop right off as the cheese compresses. The force must follow the shrinking cheese. So, if using a press intended for some other purpose, you need to be mindful of this and try to build in rather a lot of elasticity!

Stilton pressing is an interesting special case in that it is just "pressed" under its own weight, frequently flipping it over, so that both ends are 'pressed' equally.

Edit: fixed the typo I spotted late!

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Alan, thanks for staying on top of this! I have several things I am planning to try this fall to remedy my situation. I will finally have space to put in a curing chamber for cured meats, and I'm hoping that the temperatures and humidities are approximately the same for cheese making as well, so hopefully that will work out. I am also going to get fresh innoculant, and try a different source of milk. I think I am going to try to go "back to basics" first and keep working on a Monterrey Jack until I can get it to work right, and only then move on to the more challenging cheeses. My reach exceeded my grasp on that cheddar, I'm afraid  :unsure: .

Chris,

I think that you'll find that relative humidity recommendations for cheese and charcuterie can be substantially different. Humidity for cheese seems to need to be in the 80%-95% ball park, whereas for charcuterie, as you know, that will cause some significant mold issues, and the meat/sausage will not dry nearly as quickly as it should.

Best,

Alan

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I'm not sure if it is related to your problem, but could a crumbly texture have anything to do with not pressing with proper weight?  I have never made any hard cheeses precisely because I don't feel there is enough explanation in the books that I have about pressing.  Home Cheese Making, specifically, does not do a good job of discussing the potential issues.

I know, from posts upthread, that Carolyn had troubles with her press, and I find that recipes talk about pressing with a certain weight for a given mold size--for example, two-pound--but it isn't clear to me what a two lb press mold is.  This is especially the case because molds with a wide variety of diameters and heights could hold two lbs of cheese, and also since the presses that I have seen online talk about sizes in relation to number of gallons of milk that are initially used for the cheese, i.e., 2 or 5 gallons. 

Also, I've seen that the more expensive presses have PSI gauges and this clearly means that it isn't simply weight that matters, but the amount of weight per square inch of cheese--I'm assuming the top surface here {...} At any rate, at the least, it seems to me that the presses that have a "50 lb" spring for both 2-gallon and 5-gallon cheese molds are not going to function properly as the top surface area of the 5-gallon cheese certainly will be larger, and therefore must require more weight to equal the same PSI as the 2-gallon cheese would.  ...

All too true.

Cheesemaking and basic physics/mechanics seem to rarely run together!

The pressure is what matters and any weights are going to refer to a specific pressing arrangement only.

The pressure is just force divided by the area its applied to. And for a round piston (or "follower") the area is of course π r squared. So, multiply the radius by itself, then by 3 (rough approximation for π). Thus for a 3 inch internal diameter mould, the radius is 1.5 inches, so its area is 1.5x 1.5x 3 = about 6.75 sq inches.

But it gets even more murky when one realises that some people use a "Dutch Press" - where a weight is attached to a lever - when there is a force multiplication factor to consider as well. If the weight is attached to the lever 3x as far from the pivot as the piston, then the piston will exert a force of 3x the weight used!

So, if we hung 11 lb on such a dutch press, we'd exert a force of about 33 lb, and applying this to our 3 inch diameter mould, gets us close to a pressure of (33 divided by 6.75) about 5 psi on our cheese. (Which I think is the right ballpark to be in.)

The design of presses specifically for cheese is such that the force (and hence the pressure) doesn't drop right off as the cheese compresses. The force must follow the shrinking cheese. So, if using a press intended for some other purpose, you need to be mindful of this and try to build in rather a lot of elasticity!

Stilton pressing is an interesting special case in that it is just "pressed" under its own weight, frequently flipping it over, so that both ends are 'pressed' equally.

Edit: fixed the typo I spotted late!

Hi Dougal,

Thanks for this. I was wondering why the Dutch Presses were even relevant, but now it makes sense that they are probably far more adjustable and expandable to larger hoop sizes than some of the other types out there.

Best,

Alan

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