Author Topic: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?  (Read 1608 times)

Offline StinkyCheese

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Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« on: August 14, 2012, 01:16:51 PM »
I am getting ready to try and make some feta and tomme cheeses.  Got my wine cooler/cave ordered.  Should I have a pH meter at this point?  The amount of hardware I need for this project is starting to seem intimidating compared to just making chevre - where a cheese cloth and a big glass jar are all I need.  :)

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Michelle


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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 02:44:21 PM »
Feta is a simple make...my first make was Feta and I didnt have a Ph meter at that point. If you follow the directions to the letter (if using cow's milk, dont forget the liapase and cacl) you should be in pretty good shape. Feta is pretty forgiving.  If the cheese turns out too moist, dry salt before brining and extend your drying period.
IMHO in small home productions a Ph meter isnt necessary, but a nice thing to have to add to the experience and learning. If your make goes south, you may see it happening with the Ph curve and can often recover (or so I understand...have only made one cheese with the Ph meter I bought and it's still early lol ) by adjusting the process downstream....something you might not see without it.

Offline StinkyCheese

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 07:24:43 PM »
Thanks!  It will be nice if I can do a few makes and then decide whether to buy one or not.  I have the feeling I'll either be hooked - or not!  I have to go to twice a day milking in the next week, so I will have more milk available, but less time.  I'm not sure how it will all balance out yet. :) 

Offline NimbinValley

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 01:32:11 AM »
I basically agree with what bbracken677 says.  The way I look at it is to think about how much money you have spent to date and what is another couple hundred bucks on top of that? Maybe less in the US. Personally I can't make cheese without a meter and I'm not sure how others do...but they seem to!  Good luck.

Offline george (MaryJ)

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 04:06:30 AM »
I don't have a pH meter either, never have, don't intend to get one.  Trial and error got me to be able to make a bunch of different types just the way I like 'em.  I tend to be a little more cavalier in my cooking (me?  follow a RECIPE without modifications???!!  Blasphemy!), so for me a pH meter seemed like it was going to be all about the science, not the art.  Not that I'm at all artistic either, but hopefully at least SOME of that made sense.

So yep, your idea of going ahead and making a few and THEN deciding makes sense.  I originally thought I would need to do that, but then realized I could get away without one.
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Offline StinkyCheese

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 09:26:51 AM »
Makes me wonder how they did it in the old days...  Were there ways to check pH or was it that much of an art/skill that was handed down from one person to the next?

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 10:01:29 AM »
I am sure that 6000 years ago it was pretty much just a craftsmanship kind of thing...

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 10:33:46 AM »
Quote
Makes me wonder how they did it in the old days...  Were there ways to check pH or was it that much of an art/skill that was handed down from one person to the next?

There were no engineered cheeses, and the cheeses that were made worked with the cadence of the milking cycle for each family of cheese. For example, cheese was made daily in alpine regions using ultra fresh milk. Combined with the sensory training that happened during apprenticeship, the methods used for determining action points such as draining, were less based on instruments and tools and more based on using the brain and senses.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 10:54:21 AM »
I don't buy into the whole art and science thing.  You can wait 6 months until the cheese is ready before you figure out that 9 hours in the press over acidified the cheese and you need to modify it to 6 when its really warm in the kitchen.  Is this art?  Its just trial and error.
You can make your trial and error period alot shorter and more easily trouble shoot your makes.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2012, 11:58:48 AM »
To be sure, I think cheese crafters, especially in the past, were just that, craftspeople. They concerned themselves with milk preservation for the very practical reason of survival and sustenance.

The art comes in more now in modern times, in that it is now possible to exercise creativity in conceiving of a new product as an expression of self and beauty. For example, I am catering a wedding in a few weeks on a vineyard estate and arrived at a menu where every single dish uses something from the vineyard. And I know the biological and physical and chemical reasons and options for each dish and how I want to execute each one based on the philosophy and vision for each and the desires of the couple. I think that in this case, the creation, is more about me getting out of the way of the ingredients, yet it is the exercise of will that brings it all together into more than a process of mere execution. And that is art. Similarly in cheese, there are relatively few discoveries to be made. One may create with a reasonable degree of certainty specific styles and flavors. But to exercise will and conceive of, say, a spice and herb-studded tomme made in NY perfumed at the end of affinage with fall apples, that is also more than mere process and execution.
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2012, 12:23:15 PM »
I've made some good cheeses without a meter, at least some people other than me thought so.  When I tried to make them again they didn't always turn out the same way.  I am planning to buy a meter to help me keep my process repeatable. For those who make cheese regularly, especially when it is the same type, I'm sure it become relatively easy to repeat the process.  I rarely measure anything or have a recipe handy in my other cooking, but I do most things often enough that I can usually get the result I am looking for. If it's something I haven't done in a long time, I will trot out the recipe and measures or I am bound to have problems. 

My take on the pH meter is that it is not required[/u] to make cheese.  I'm hoping that it will help me repeat makes that come out well.  I wish I was comfortable and creative enough to come up with new things like Linuxbox describes. 

Offline jerseyknollfarm

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2012, 07:45:10 AM »
I make 20 to 30 gallons of milk into various types of cheese nearly every week and I don't have a PH meter, or test strips, it comes out well.

Offline NimbinValley

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2012, 04:59:29 PM »
If you are doing the same thing day in day out with the same(ish) milk then your senses become honed quite well - its the old 10K hour rule - practice makes perfect.  If however you are doing a number of cheeses in one day, and a variety of cheeses during the week, including shopping and taking the dog to the vet and worrying how much the bill will be... then grab a pH meter.  It will help your mental health, and maybe save your relationship.

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Offline Boofer

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2012, 08:18:53 PM »
Then again, unless you have the years of experience of working with milk and making cheese consistently, some cheeses have specific points that more or less require a pH meter to know when those points have been reached. Too soon...not ready. Too late...too bad...you missed the target and you're creating a different product. I have waited for hours, testing the cheese progress periodically for a certain pH point. If you do not possess a pH meter, how would you know when that spot has been reached? You could, of course, take your best guess. Do you feel lucky?

That's relegated to certain cheese styles. There are certainly lots of cheeses that do not require such fine tuning.

Like a long whisk to cut the curds, a reliable thermometer, or a kettle large enough to hold the amount of milk you want to use, a pH meter is a tool to help you get the job done.

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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Do I need a pH meter or not to start?
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2012, 10:13:19 AM »
In many cheeses you can determine check points by measuring acidity (lactic acid production) which is dirt cheap and easy.
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