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    Wiki: Mats & Boards

    Cheese making requires highly permeable mats or low permeable boards to go beneath cheeses at their draining, air drying, and aging steps, depending on the type of cheese being made and method. This article discusses mat or board requirements and gives recommended and non-recommended examples for these three different steps.

    Mats For Draining Cheeses

    Rennet Coagulated Cheese Under Light Pressing On Board With Holes Drilled Through

    Rennet Coagulated Cheese Under Light Pressing On Board With Holes Drilled Through

    Mats are used beneath cheeses when draining whey from curds in hoops, either unpressed by gravity or while being pressed. An example of mats commonly used in gravity draining are in making Camembert where the curds are drained in a small hoop and frequently turned onto another mat to develop their typical short cylinder shape. An example of mats used in pressing cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar are those used under the heavy duty hoops and as followers.

    Two 1.5-2 kg Kadova Brand Gouda Shape Molds With Built In Mesh Net & Mesh Lid

    Two 1.5-2 kg Kadova Brand Gouda Shape Molds With Built In Mesh Net & Mesh Lid

    Curds can also be drained in molds with bottoms and thus do not need a mat during draining. Examples of gravity draining molds are closed bottom pyramid shapes for Valencay and closed bottom and top Kadova Brand molds for pressed Goudas.

    Note, the mat needs to sit on a device such as a wire rack to allow the free drainage of whey. Placing on a solid surface causes the whey filling the porosity of the mat resulting in inadequate expulsion of the whey and possibly a location for unwanted micro-organisms to grow.

    Minimum Requirements

    9x9 in Bamboo Sushi Mats, Not Good For Cheese As Retain Micro-Organisms

    9x9 in Bamboo Sushi Mats, Not Good For Cheese As Retain Micro-Organisms

    Made from reusable food grade very low porosity hygienic material so that they minimally harbour micro-organisms.

    • Highly permeable weave to easily dispel large rates of whey.
    • Tight enough weave to support curds so that they are not expelled through the mat.
    • Does not impart flavor to cheese (unless wanted).
    • Cut larger than the hoop placed on top.

    Examples

    • Recommended is food grade matting commonly available from commercial kitchen and cheese making supply stores.
    • Not recommended are sushi making bamboo mats or soft foamy gripy type mats used to line shelves as they easily harbor micro-organisms even after heavy cleaning.

    Mats & Boards For Air Drying Cheeses

    Foam Gripy Mat, Not Good For Cheese Making As Harbours Micro-Organisms

    Foam Gripy Mat, Not Good For Cheese Making As Harbours Micro-Organisms

    Cheeses fresh from being whey drained, either by gravity or by pressing, still often have moist surfaces and through ongoing acid and or rennet induced syneresis are still expelling whey and thus are frequently air dried at room conditions for a few days before being moved to an aging environment. During this air drying period they sit on a mat or board where all surfaces are dried by initially by draining and then by evaporation of excess moisture into the air.

    Note, similar to draining whey from formed cheeses, the mat needs to sit on a device such as a wire rack to allow the free drainage of whey. Placing on a solid surface causes the whey filling the porosity of the mat resulting in inadequate expulsion of the whey and possibly a location for unwanted micro-organisms to grow.

    Minimum Requirements

    3 Weave Sized Food Grade Mats, Demonstrating Capilliary Forces Holding Whey

    3 Weave Sized Food Grade Mats, Demonstrating Capilliary Forces Holding Whey

    • Made from reusable food grade very low porosity hygienic material so that they minimally harbour micro-organisms.
    • Highly permeable weave to easily dispel large rates of whey.
    • Course enough weave to stop water holding in-between strands due to capillary forces resulting in wet bottoms, poor drying, and a location for unwanted micro-organisms to grow, yet close enough to support the cheese with minimal deformation, which is dependent on the cheeses rigidity. Note, many cheeses are intentionally made with a surface imprint such as Manchego.
    • Does not impart flavor to cheese (unless wanted).
    • Cut larger than the cheese placed on top.

    Examples

    4 lb Goudas Air Drying, Course Weave Food Grade Mat Holding Water Due To Capilliary Forces

    4 lb Goudas Air Drying, Course Weave Food Grade Mat Holding Water Due To Capilliary Forces

    • Recommended for moist cheeses is food grade matting, some is available with bumps on one side to aid in standoff from the next side to aid in drainage and air ventilation.
    • Recommended for drier normally hard pressed cheeses is food grade matting or a low permeable material like naturally antiseptic and low flavor imparting wood.
    • Not recommended are sushi making bamboo mats or soft foamy gripy type mats used to line shelves or non-antiseptic type or flavor imparting wood as they easily harbor micro-organisms even after heavy cleaning.

    Mats & Boards For Air Aging Cheeses

    2 kg Gouda With Oil, Cocoa, & Pepper Rind @ 31 Days, Turned Cheese, Unwanted Blue Mold On Bottom Due To Poor Air Circulation Below Mat

    2 kg Gouda With Oil, Cocoa, & Pepper Rind @ 31 Days, Turned Cheese, Unwanted Blue Mold On Bottom Due To Poor Air Circulation Below Mat

    Cheeses after air drying such as pressed cheeses are normally aged in air to develop a natural rind or in oiled semi-sealed rinds or in highly impermeable vacuum bags or wax.

    For vacuum bags and wax, any reasonable board or flat surface will work; mats will also work as long as not very wide weave which could leave an aesthetically unpleasing imprint.

    For natural and oiled rinds, while past the high air drying stage, are still expelling small amounts of moisture, thus still need a high or low permeable material to sit on. A very low permeable material will result in a wet bottom and a location for yeasts or other unwanted micro-organisms to grow.

    Minimum Requirements For Natural & Oiled Rinds

    • Made from reusable food grade very low porosity hygienic material so that they minimally harbour micro-organisms.
    • Low or higher permeable weave to dispel whey via evaporation from moving air.
    • Does not impart flavor to cheese (unless wanted).
    • Sized larger than the cheese placed on top.

    Examples For Natural & Oiled Rinds

    • Recommended is food grade matting, some is available with bumps on one side to aid in standoff from the next side to aid in air ventilation or low permeable material like naturally antiseptic and low flavor imparting wood.
    • Not recommended are porous materials that can soak up moisture and oils resulting in a location for unwanted micro-organisms even after heavy cleaning or rancid oil if oiling rinds.

    Non-Reusable Mats

    A very traditional French mat for white bloomy cheese like Camembert & Brie is to use single use a straw mat. The straw i) helps wick out moisture, ii) helps the P. candidum mold to grow, and iii) gives the cheese a rich grassy aroma and a bit of color.

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