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Making Cheese


Bouland
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I have heard that leaving tap water in a pitcher or something for 12 hours will be enough time for the chlorine to gas off...people do that for their fish tanks also

I dunno I have a private well (G-d knows whats in there but no Chlorine)

tracey

Edited by rooftop1000 (log)

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But I do wonder if Bay Area water really is highly chlorinated?

Its just that I don't recall hearing of this being an SF problem in sourdough discussion. Sourdough cultures are shaped by their environment and can be rather sensitive to chlorination. And with SF's sourdough traditions, I'd have expected to have heard rather a lot about that specific SF problem, if it existed.

San Francisco's water is heavily clorinated (2.1mg/l ... that's 0.2% chlorine!), ostensibly because of the very old pipes in the system (they just ripped out the last of the cedar wood pipes 7 years ago) but in reality because the Clorox Corporation is headquartered in Oakland and is a big local palm-greaser. The amount of treatment in the water has been quadrupled over the last 10 years.

You can taste it. Most San Franciscans, like me, use a filter to remove the taste. Some filters (like Brita pitchers) release a lot of the chlorine through aeriation.

It's actually Chloramine rather than Chlorine, but the effect on cultures is the same. I've been using bottled water for my sourdough culture too; I was having trouble with it for months before I figured out the chlorine issue.

Edited by TheFuzzy (log)

The Fuzzy Chef

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Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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But I do wonder if Bay Area water really is highly chlorinated?

Its just that I don't recall hearing of this being an SF problem in sourdough discussion. Sourdough cultures are shaped by their environment and can be rather sensitive to chlorination. And with SF's sourdough traditions, I'd have expected to have heard rather a lot about that specific SF problem, if it existed.

San Francisco's water is heavily clorinated (2.1mg/l ... that's 0.2% chlorine!), ostensibly because of the very old pipes in the system (they just ripped out the last of the cedar wood pipes 7 years ago) but in reality because the Clorox Corporation is headquartered in Oakland and is a big local palm-greaser. The amount of treatment in the water has been quadrupled over the last 10 years.

You can taste it. Most San Franciscans, like me, use a filter to remove the taste. Some filters (like Brita pitchers) release a lot of the chlorine through aeriation.

It's actually Chloramine rather than Chlorine, but the effect on cultures is the same. I've been using bottled water for my sourdough culture too; I was having trouble with it for months before I figured out the chlorine issue.

When I travel, I take a water purifier with me, a Berkey stainless steel travel unit, which is not all that small, but does purify the water much better than Britta or the other small units.

I refuse to pay the outrageous prices for bottled water, which I don't trust anyway. There have been more than a few investigations that revealed that some bottled waters were not as described or from the sources listed.

I have a larger SS Berkey purifier, for a "just-in-case" event when we may have disruption in our water supply because of earthquakes. I had it shipped to a friend in Nevada and drove over there to pick it up because our legislature, for some reason that I suspect has to do with the bottled water lobby in California, has been reluctant to allow the bigger units to be sold in California.

When I picked up mine in Nevada, I also transported two others, one for a friend who lives in Lompoc (horrible water) and another in Yorba Linda where the water is also not so nice.

Both report a significant difference in various foods, vegetables cooked in the purified water taste better and retain their color better, so there has to be some chemical difference.

If interested, you can see all the specs HERE

I have not had any experience with the plastic ones, I prefer the SS units. The big one I have is the "Crown" model and I have 4 of the filters in it. With 4 filters, it will purify 12,000 gallons of water.

My friends in Lompoc and Yorba Linda both got the "Imperial" size, with the two filters that came with them.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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...

San Francisco's water is heavily clorinated (2.1mg/l ... that's 0.2% chlorine!), ostensibly because of the very old pipes in the system ... The amount of treatment in the water has been quadrupled over the last 10 years.

You can taste it.  Most San Franciscans, like me, use a filter to remove the taste.  ...

It's actually Chloramine rather than Chlorine, ...

I'm learning about SF sourdough !!

AFAIK, the rationale for Chloramine/Chloramide rather than Chlorine is to reduce the rate of loss to the air, and hence, incidentally, the smell.

Therefore Chloramine is less easily dealt with by the "let it stand in a glass/pitcher/bucket/watering-can/whatever overnight" technique...

In fact it even remains after boiling the water.

Reduction and removal options include passing the water over activated charcoal (as in some home filter jugs) and treatment with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - which is the method advised for dialysis patients to use on water for their blood treatment machines. {I gather that, while Chloramine is safely broken down in the human digestive system, its not good in the bloodstream, interfering with red blood cells transport of oxygen.}

I think a really tiny touch of Vitamin C sounds entirely appropriate for both Sourdough cultures and (this topic) any water used in Cheesemaking...

It seems that SF Chloramine treatment only (re)started in 2004.

http://sfwater.org/mto_main.cfm/MC_ID/13/M.../166/MTO_ID/399

Incidentally, the Chlorine-equivalent level of 2.1 milligrams per litre does not convert as "0.2%" - which would be 2 parts in a thousand. Its actually 2 parts in a million (2ppm) - a thousand times more dilute than the quoted "0.2%".

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

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It seems that SF Chloramine treatment only (re)started in 2004.

http://sfwater.org/mto_main.cfm/MC_ID/13/M.../166/MTO_ID/399

Incidentally, the Chlorine-equivalent level of 2.1 milligrams per litre does not convert as "0.2%" - which would be 2 parts in a thousand. Its actually 2 parts in a million (2ppm) - a thousand times more dilute than the quoted "0.2%".

ooops, stupid math error. Good thing it wasn't a recipe. :raz:

How much vitamin C?

Edited by TheFuzzy (log)

The Fuzzy Chef

www.fuzzychef.org

Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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...

How much vitamin C?

Not much at all, I reckon...

... SFPUC determined

that 1000 mg of Vitamin C (tablets purchased in a grocery store, crushed and mixed in with the

bath water) remove chloramine completely in a medium size bathtub without significantly

depressing pH.

http://sfwater.org/Files/FAQs/removal.pdf (found on page 3)

I'd guess a "medium sized {US} bathtub" might be about 100 litres.

So that's about 10 milligrams (1/100 of 1g) per litre (or US quart).

As I think I've said before on here, making up a standard dilute solution is the easiest way of measuring such tiny quantities of Vitamin C.

Take a 500 mg Vitamin C tablet (like the ones in my cupboard) for example.

Dissolve it in 500g of water (weigh the water for accuracy, like with baking).

Now weigh out 20g of that solution. So you've just measured out 20mg of Ascorbic Acid to a likely accuracy of better than ± 2mg - thats ± 0.002g -- not bad for a kitchen scale! (Drink the remaining 480g - the Vitamin might do some good!)

Take the 20g of solution and make it up to 2 quarts with more water. Stir very well.

The reaction should be practically immediate, if unspectacular.

You should now have a couple of quarts with an ascorbic acid concentration of about 10mg/l.

And that (as above) I estimate to be the sort of concentration that the SFPUC say completely removes chloramine.

I trust that its obvious how this method could be adjusted for different strength Vitamin C tablets... :cool:

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

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I bought a cheesemaking kit a month or so ago and have prodcuded one batch so far. I will be trying to make up a new batch of goats cheese this weekend, i write a blog with descriptions and photographs at cheeseathome.blogspot.com

My last batch had a slightly sour taste, i follwed the instructions exactly, the temperatures for setting (room temp) were observed and i sterilised everything thoroughly, does anyone have any suggestions what may be going wrong. I used vegetable rennet and a thick full cream Jersey milk.

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I get my Ascorbic Acid in powder form by buying jars of Sour Salt, which is available in supermarkets and generally 1/5 the price of drugstore tablets or powder from a cheesemaking supply.

I'm puzzled now.

If you know you specifically want Ascorbic Acid, then why (or wtf) buy Citric Acid?

I'd never heard of "sour salt", but it only took me about 20 seconds to find out that its nothing to do with Vitamin C...

http://www.americanspice.com/catalog/searc...2sour%2Bsalt%22

A precision measured 500 milligram vitamin c tablet costs about 3 pence (call it 2 cents) each here in the UK.

Making the cost of using the proper stuff, at an accurately low strength, less than 1/6 th of a cent per US gallon.

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

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Mozzarella success!

The revival of this thread inspired me to try 30-minute mozzarella again. Based on the linked site upthread, I decided to use non-organic milk rather than organic milk from the grocery store (on the theory that it would have traveled less to get here.)

The changes I made - I only microwaved the curds once, and I was very gentle with the heating and kneading parts, rather than pushing it hard to get out all the whey. I didn't stretch or pull it, just kneaded until it came together in a ball and was getting slightly stretchy.

Result - squishy goodness! and a pound of fresh mozzarella for $3.29! I may have to do this every week.

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I'd never heard of "sour salt", but it only took me about 20 seconds to find out that its nothing to do with Vitamin C...

Oh! Up until your remark, I'd thought that citric acid and ascorbic acid were the same thing. I guess so far I've only used it in things where modifying the pH mattered and not other properties.

Thanks for the warning!

The Fuzzy Chef

www.fuzzychef.org

Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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... I'd thought that citric acid and ascorbic acid were the same thing.  I guess so far I've only used it in things where modifying the pH mattered and not other properties. ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascorbic_acid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid

I've no idea how Citric (or any other acids) might deal with Chloramine.

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

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...

My last batch had a slightly sour taste, i follwed the instructions exactly, the temperatures for setting (room temp) were observed and i sterilised everything thoroughly, does anyone have any suggestions what may be going wrong. I used vegetable rennet and a thick full cream Jersey milk.

I'll start by disclaiming expertise.

My (limited) understanding is that the flavour primarily arises from the bacterial action on the milk (ie milk, starter and cheese-environment conditions dependent.)

The rennet shouldn't be making any contribution to the taste. It needs a pretentious (or extraordinarily skilled) cheese buff to claim that, through all the other possible variations, they can discern the type of rennet used.

Given a standardised starter and standardised milk supply, the thing that can change is the environment for the bacterial beasties. At slightly warm temperatures, they get much more active. But they don't like it too hot. And they are slowed down by fridge chilling.

But your culture is likely going to be a mixture of bugs, and individual types will react differently at any given temperature.

So by controlling the time and temperature for

- the initial innoculation

- the curd setting

- the draining (I get the impression you had 24 hours at "room temperature")

- and the maturing (24 hours in the fridge)

you can play tunes with the activity of the different bugs in the culture and the way they respond to the various temperature conditions.

And the different bugs will likely also be differently affected by salt, acidity, etc.

When you get to pressing the cheeses and maturing them for longer, you have another whole slew of variables to play with (or try valliantly to control), such as curd texture, dryness after pressing, maturing temperature, humidity and even airspeed. And that's before you start washing the things in lotions and potions, or innoculating them with additional 'blue-ing' cultures...

So many variables!

My suggestions for a "less sour" taste would be to reduce the time or temperature between adding the culture and adding the rennet. And you might want to find a cooler spot to leave it while it drains.

The reason for the sanitisation precautions is more about producing a nice cheese from your starter's bugs rather than a random cheese from whatever is floating around.

Its pretty unlikely that you'd ever harm a healthy person with even the foulest home-made cheese. (Infants, invalids, pregnant, etc - as usual, be prudent.) Whether you'd get anyone to try it is the significant safety barrier!

I've used a big spoonful of "live" (organic) yoghurt as a starter. Simple, cheap, and easy for a quick soft cheese. Makes a bland wensleydale-ish matured cheese.

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

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My suggestions for a "less sour" taste would be to reduce the time or temperature between adding the culture and adding the rennet. And you might want to find a cooler spot to leave it while it drains.

Advice noted, I shall try these out next time. I'm also wondering if there was any relation to the type of milk used - as Jersey milk is particularly creamy - i'm wondering if there was a conflict between teh bacteria used and a cream or if maybe it sours faster. With regards to a cooler place, to what extent would maturation slow down if i were to leave them in a fridge rather than at room temperature, this will preserve the freshness of the milk but i don't want the cold temperatures to destroy the bacteria all together.

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The more cream, the creamier the cheese. I shouldn't worry about your bacterial starter not liking cream! :smile: Texture aside, its a matter of making 'cottage cheese' (from skimmed milk) or 'cream cheese' from a particularly creamy 'milk'. Or wherever in between you choose.

Proper fridge cold (4C) doesn't tend to "destroy" bacteria. (It doesn't sterilise stuff.) But it does slow them right down. You may have a warm bit of the fridge that sits at 6C or higher. That'll allow more activity. But a cool 10/12C is probably a sensible balance. Different temperatures will give different balances of activity between different bacteria. And so different flavour balances.

As I understand it, you are

- preparing a starter (from dried powder?) to some degree of 'sharpness'

- 'scalding' some milk (90C for 10 minutes) to give your bacteria a clear run.

- cooling the milk to room temp (ish) about 22C

- mixing in the starter

- leaving it for 24 hours at about 22C

- then mixing in some prepared rennet, and expecting coagulation in an hour and a half. (My "VegeRen" {from Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, etc, usually found with the cake decorating stuff} wants to see 32C and have a longer static rest than that for a clean break) You gave it 3 hours before scooping the curds into moulds. (Maybe you salted the curds at this point.)

- allowing 24 hours draining at room temperature

- unmoulding

- and then another 24 hours in the fridge before eating.

It depends on the starter, but for a mild cheese many recipes specify essentially zero delay between mixing in the starter and rennet.

IMHO making that particular delay 24 hours at room temp (instead of a couple of minutes) is likely to make for a 'strong' (sharp?) flavoured cheese. Especially when followed by 24 hours draining, also at room temp.

Something to be aware of is that the material can be tasted at any point during the process.

Indeed that may be a useful guide.

Just as with cooking, tasting as you go does make sense.

For hard (pressed and matured) cheeses, an 'iron' for taking a core sample (like the pros) would be really nice to have... /sigh/

The manipulation of time and temperature is just to get you to the point where someone has decided that the taste (and texture) for that route are at their most pleasant.

Because its DIY, you can play with the variables to take you to where you think is most pleasant.

But please don't think that you must follow every stage of your recipe exactly!

Sure, its no bad thing to scald the milk first.

And very likely to have it cooled down (like to 40C or below) before adding your starter.

To get good coagulation, follow your rennet instructions, and remember that it needs to sit totally undisturbed to coagulate properly.

Beyond that, you can do whatever you please. Different routes will give you cottage cheese, quark, philly, mozzarella, cheddar, stilton or even 'vieux puant' styles. And the differences are really more of degree, variation rather than, er, a chalk and cheese difference.

Aside from to the pregnant, the elderly, infirm, infants, etc, your cheese should be as safe as any home cooking. At any stage in the process. See what variations make the end result "better" in your eyes - and more importantly, mouth! :cool:

However, as always, you can't really learn (or replicate) unless you control the variation.

And its simplest to, as far as possible, only play with one variable at a time!

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

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IMHO making that particular delay 24 hours at room temp (instead of a couple of minutes) is likely to make for a 'strong' (sharp?) flavoured cheese. Especially when followed by 24 hours draining, also at room temp.

Thanks for your advice on this, I will play around with the variables a little more. Rather naively i suppose i expected the method that came with the kit to work first time giving me something to build on. I'mm off to buy some goats's milk and try again :smile:

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Thought i would throw in a few pics of cheese ive made a few months ago.

Homemade Feta...taste great! :biggrin::biggrin:

gallery_52600_5560_36423.jpg

This should hopefully end up like a homemade parmesan - but i have my doubts, but i have at least 4-5 months yet before i can even start to picture the result...

gallery_52600_5560_13185.jpg

gallery_52600_5560_20172.jpg

Ricotta made from the whey from the feta and parmesan cheese.

I do think that the most difficult thing to control is when making a cheese that needs storaging..but its allways fun to see what happens :raz::raz::raz::raz::raz:

Edited by Morten (log)
http://www.grydeskeen.dk - a danish foodblog :)
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For the ricotta, did you just bring up the whey to ~ 200F ? Did you add any acid (acetic, lactic, citric, vinegar, lemon juice)? Did you add extra milk for increased yield?

Thought i would throw in a few pics of cheese ive made a few months ago.

Homemade Feta...taste great!  :biggrin:  :biggrin:

gallery_52600_5560_36423.jpg

This should hopefully end up like a homemade parmesan - but i have my doubts, but i have at least 4-5 months yet before i can even start to picture the result...

gallery_52600_5560_13185.jpg

gallery_52600_5560_20172.jpg

Ricotta made from the whey from the feta and parmesan cheese.

I do think that the most difficult thing to control is when making  a cheese that needs storaging..but its allways fun to see what happens :raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:

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I first add one liter of whole milk to the whey and then bring the whey near the boiling point (in my experience approx. 83 celcius/181.4F works best), i then add a tablespoon of vinegar. The first couple of times ive made ricotta ive used a bit to much vinegar, wich made the ricotta taste like vinegar. Then curds forms and after a few minutes i remove them to drain.

From the 8 liters of milk used in a batch of cheese (wich should be approx 6 liters of whey) plus an extra liter of milk, i get around 400 grams of ricotta.

It tastes better than any bought ricotta i tried :)

Edited by Morten (log)
http://www.grydeskeen.dk - a danish foodblog :)
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Thanks for the info! :-)

I've been making whole milk (no whey) "ricotta" lately using citric acid as the coagulant (heating the milk, citric acid and salt together until about 175-185 until it curds separate, then straining and if I want it smooth, blending it).

p.s. your pics look great, keep up the good work! :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

All,

How do you control the temperature while making cheese? I've been trying to do it by double-boiler, but doing something like heating it by 5 degrees over 20 minutes is nearly impossible ... first it doesn't heat, then it heats too fast.

Tips?

The Fuzzy Chef

www.fuzzychef.org

Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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All,

How do you control the temperature while making cheese?  I've been trying to do it by double-boiler, but doing something like heating it by 5 degrees over 20 minutes is nearly impossible ... first it doesn't heat, then it heats too fast.

Tips?

Practice. At least, that's my method. Every stove is different, every piece of cookware is different, the external temperature will influence it, etc.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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How do you control the temperature while making cheese?  I've been trying to do it by double-boiler, but doing something like heating it by 5 degrees over 20 minutes is nearly impossible ... first it doesn't heat, then it heats too fast.

Do you stir the waterbath, so that the whole thing is at pretty much the same temperature?

And be sure to use a low-thermal-mass (responsive) thermometer. (So it 'keeps up' with the changing temperature of the water.)

To practice, you can use water instead of milk in your inner pan. You'll pretty soon get an idea of what rate of heat supply maintains different temperatures and provides different rates of change ...

With electric heating, you could use a sous-vide controller on the waterbath... :smile:

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

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