This Wiki Article discusses vats, the generic term for a device to hold milk or cream for common activities such as pasteurization (optional), heating, coagulating, dividing into curds and whey, and warming or cooking. Vats can be in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. This article explores vat’s minimum and preferred requirements, and lists several examples.
This article is divided into the following sections:
- Leak proof.
- Be larger than the amount of milk and/or cream and any additives so that there is room for waves in the milk at surface during stirring. Note, most retail vessels will only just fit their advertised volume, ie a 25 liter stockpot will normally only hold 25 liters if 100% filled to the brim.
- Have an open top for easy access for stirring, and to cut the curd.
- Be food grade hygienic, (ie not porous or reactive to acidic curds and whey). Stainless steel or enameled steel are good, aluminum and soft plastic are poor.
- Be able to withstand heat required during your cheese making (varies depending on cheese type and process).
- Be able to withstand impact of tools such as large metal spoons, curd knives, skimmers, and bailers.
- To avoid hotspots, a good method of dissipating external heat when heating milk, either heavy bottomed (ie triple clad stockpot) or ability to immerse in hot water bath for indirect side and bottom heating. Hot water bath can be held in second larger vessel such as sink or second larger stockpot.
- Fitted cover or lid to minimize foreign objects and unwanted airborne micro-organisms.
- Easily cleanable, thus movable (ie heavy duty handles if stockpot, especially if moving filled) and minimal small corners, ie as found in rectabgular shaped containers.
- Bottom drain system to remove whey including removable cleanable grate to minimize curds plugging the drain.
The following are examples of vats that CheeseForum.org members have used for small starter systems to medium artisan cheese making:
- Common kitchen saucepans for small batches.
- Home and commercial kitchen sized stockpots for medium and large batches.
- Rectangular shaped large chafing dish with hot water bath.
- Large slow cookers.
- Electric turkey roaster with water bath.
- Commercial restaurant sized soup warmer.
- Cut up stainless steel beer keg.
- Old stainless steel sink.
- Commercial purpose built cheese making vats.