Author Topic: Camembert #1 (and #2 now...)  (Read 3722 times)

Offline Mike Richards

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Camembert #1 (and #2 now...)
« on: September 29, 2012, 10:13:41 PM »
After some encouragement from fellow forum members, I'm in the process of raising my first Cam.  The father of 3 boys with a girl on the way, I'm concerned that this is a kind of foreshadowing of what it will be like to raise the girl.  Where the other cheeses have required very little post creation attention and seem to be turning out well, this Cam seems to require constant attention, and I can't tell if it's turning out well.  Let me tell you about the birth story:

I tried to follow Yoav's instruction, linked here for your review.

I used only MM110 and FD because that's what I had, as well as PC-Neige--though I reduced the amount I put in because I understand that it is more aggressive than PC-ABL (not sure if that's the right way to approach the aggressive nature of Neige).  Other than those differences, I followed the instructions pretty closely.

I had some serious sticking to the draining mats prior to the first flip--the first flip tore the cheese in half, in fact.  I put cheesecloth between the mats and cheese so that it wouldn't happen again, and that seemed to work, though the childr...cheeses have some scarring.

The Cams have been aging at 52F (I couldn't get the cave warmer without more effort than I'm willing to put in at the moment) and a relatively constant relative humidity of 92-94%, with a single short-lived foray up to 99%.

I first observed mold growth on day 5.  I have been diligent at flipping daily as well as rubbing down the cheeses with every flipped.  I've washed my hands each time I've handled them (though I don't have any cool blue gloves...).

Tonight, however, I observed what appears to be a very faint reddish color below the white, possibly mixing with the more yellow color (the geo, right?).  I've posted a picture (the last one), though I don't think you can see any of that color.  I'm not sure what it is and not sure if I should be concerned about it.  To paraphrase, I have been wondering, "What more could I have done for my Cams?"

Also, what does, "fully bloomed" mean--white fuzz everywhere?  Thanks!  Enjoy the pics.







« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 09:30:51 PM by Mike Richards »
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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2012, 10:28:24 PM »
your temp and RH are perfect for the first part...I defined fully bloomed as in total coverage by the white PC.

Not sure what is going on with the yellow...perhaps the faint reddish is either your pc dying back a bit, which is no problem, likely...however I dont know what stage you are in...you mentioned mold growth at day 5...what day is current? Or...the reddish could be b.linens...

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2012, 10:43:30 PM »
Today is day 7, so I expected to keep things as they are for the next week.  If dying back PC causes red, it could be the result of an (unreported) drop down 84% humidity for a couple hours while trying to stabilize after the 99% foray.

If they are b. linens, I don't know where they came from--do those float around in the air all the time?
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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2012, 11:00:59 PM »
From what I understand, the linens are fairly common. Also...I used a different PC so I am not really familiar with the Neige.  I really don't think the couple hours would cause the pc to die back...I just wasn't sure how old the make was.

I would suggest to carry on, but if you do have full coverage you might consider dropping the temp by 8-10 degrees

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2012, 01:24:44 PM »
Will do--thanks!
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2012, 09:15:03 PM »
I don't have full coverage of the PC yet, but the corners are softening (on one cheese a corner tore off--it tasted good...).  I presume that it's normal for the corner to soften first, but I'm concerned that I'm going to have very uneven ripening because of the lack of coverage in some places and thick coverage in others.

Should I put it in a the cooler fridge to slow the ripening where it is ripening, or should I keep it in the cave to encourage the PC to cover the rest of the surfaces?
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Offline george (MaryJ)

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2012, 04:38:52 AM »
Pet it every day to spread the PC from the thicker parts to the nekkie parts.
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2012, 08:56:16 AM »
Pet it every day to spread the PC from the thicker parts to the nekkie parts.
Nekkie parts? What's all this about violins in nature?  :o

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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2012, 10:46:54 AM »
Violins in nature...better than violins in the workplace! Years ago my company had "training" about violence in the workplace...I didnt make any friends when I asked at the end "So what's the problem with violins in the workplace?" lol

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2012, 10:31:32 PM »
Either there's violins in the mini-cave or one of my cheeses is a black sheep because it's completely nekkie!  Well, not completely, but it definitely refuses to get dressed with the rest of 'em.  I've been petting and yesterday I started rubbing the white ones on the yellow one.  I'm giving it just a few more days before I'm moving the whole lot of them to the cooler fridge.  Let's hope they start cooperating...
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Offline george (MaryJ)

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2012, 04:39:11 AM »
Either there's violins in the mini-cave or one of my cheeses is a black sheep because it's completely nekkie!  Well, not completely, but it definitely refuses to get dressed with the rest of 'em.  I've been petting and yesterday I started rubbing the white ones on the yellow one. 

Yikes, talk aboutcher cheese porn!    :o
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 09:49:03 PM »
My efforts at spreading the PC seem to be making no difference--I've still got bald spots and one cheese that's almost completely bare.  At this point I'm considering mixing up a spray of PC and spraying the bare spots (and the bare one...).  I have a couple of questions about this:

1.  Will the PC still grow where the geo (yellow stuff) has totally covered the cheese?
2.  Can I freeze the left over spray?  I won't be able to do another Cam make for at least 2 weeks and I understand that the spray is only good for about that long.

Thoughts--is this a good idea or not?  I'm now 14 days into the make...
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2012, 11:22:43 PM »
Oh my, this is the first time I see this thread! I wish you would have contacted me as you were doing it and I could have helped. Camembert is a bit finicky to learn but it doesn't take long to get over the hurdles. Always allow for a few experimental batches until you start getting it right.

The sticking to the mats on the first turn usually means you waited a tad too long for the turn. It's no big deal and usually if you have any chunks of curd falling from the mat at that point you can toss them back on the cheese and they will heal themselves into it.

The way to deal with aggressive PC is not to use less but just to drop the temp/humidity a tad so it takes longer to develop. The thing with the Neige is that it is aggressive on growth speed, height, ammonia production and paste development, but it is not nearly as dense on the surface as the classic strains such as VB or ABL. Personally I usually use Neige when it is mixed in with other PC's.  Some producers of Camembert in Normandie mix even 3 strains together.

The issues you are having now however are related to overgrowth of Geo. any of the following 3 reasons or combination of 2 or all 3 are possible causes:
1). Too much humidity (or not enough draining)
2). Temperature too high
3) Not enough salt

You said that your temp is 52°F which is perfect, but once you have growth of mold, the cheese needs to be refrigerated so that the geo slows down and the PC gets a good coverage. Humidity really sends the geo on a wild growth spree which inhibits the growth of PC so that could be an issue.  Did you keep the lid partially open and allowed air ti escape?
The reason salt is an issue is because it slightly inhibits the geo and keeps it in check. Wild growth of Geo like this is often a sign of lack of salt.

Another factor could be too much Geo in relation to the PC. Geo doesn't need much to grow and you can use a lot less than PC. Reducing PC quantity isn't advisable though.

All this creamy-colored wrinkly skin is Geo. As the color gets darker it's an indication of ammonia buildup. I see it happening right now as your corner edge seems loose and the PC seems to be receding.  I suspect this batch may not give you what you want  :-[
Can we try this again? Less moisture, less humidity, cooler temp. It will work.

What Geo strain did you use?

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 12:41:50 AM »
Yoav--thanks for the reply.  I don't mind a few "experimental" batches.  I'll certainly try again--though it might have to wait a couple of weeks (depends on what the wifey says...).  But, so that I'm better prepared for next time:

-- I waited for the cheese to look "stiff enough" before flipping the first time, a little over 2 hours.  Perhaps "stiff enough" doesn't mean what I thought.  I've read elsewhere that people flip within the first 30 minutes.  At 30 minutes mine still filled 1/2 or 3/4 of the mold.

-- Don't reduce the PC just because it's aggressive, got it.

-- Geo overgrowth:
  --- Like you said, I don't think temp was a problem.  I salted at 1.8% of weight, though I have since read elsewhere that I need to include 15% over that to account for losses that don't stay on the cheese.  So, I'm guessing I under salted. 
  --- As for the humidity, I thought I was doing really well because my meter was reporting between 92 and 94%.  However, I have come to mistrust it because it started reporting 80% when there was condensate on the top lid.  After that happened, I tried to use your guide of keeping really tiny droplets of condensate on the lid--opening more when bigger droplets appeared and closing more when there were none.
  --- I certainly had a problem with the ratio of PC to Geo since I reduced the amount of PC I put in.  I understand now that they are not friends and don't share well...
  --- I used Geo 15.

So, for next time: 
- Flip sooner, even if it doesn't look "stiff enough"?
- Should I add the PC and Geo (in the right proportions this time) to the milk or spray it on (I bought some cute little spray bottles)?  If I spray, I have read to make a brine with 3 or 4% salt, but how much PC and Geo do I add to it?
- I'll include the +15% of the 1.8% salt to make up for losses during dry salting
- I'm a little less confident in maintaining humidity since my meter isn't as trustworthy as I thought.  I live in Colorado Springs, at about 7,000 ft elevation and our humidity level is pretty low.  To get tiny droplets on the lid of my box, I needed a damp paper towel and the lid just barely open, or resting closed (not snapped closed).

Thanks for the help!
 
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert #1
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 02:56:22 AM »

Yoav--thanks for the reply.  I don't mind a few "experimental" batches.  I'll certainly try again--though it might have to wait a couple of weeks (depends on what the wifey says...).  But, so that I'm better prepared for next time:
-- I waited for the cheese to look "stiff enough" before flipping the first time, a little over 2 hours.  Perhaps "stiff enough" doesn't mean what I thought.  I've read elsewhere that people flip within the first 30 minutes.  At 30 minutes mine still filled 1/2 or 3/4 of the mold.
You can do that, just don't flip the cheese in and out of the hoop. Flip the hoop itself. Put a ripening mat tightly on the top of it and flip it rapidly in a single motion to the ripening mat on top now becomes the bottom and the cheese slides down without squishing it or messing it up... In the creameries they usually have special trays on the top and bottom and about a dozen moulds on each tray. Two workers hold the trays at both ends and turn them together.  You can also use a finer or stiffer draining mat. I assume your draining mat is set on top of the crisscross draining board and not on top of the cutting boards. The cutting boards really slow down the drainage otherwise.

I salted at 1.8% of weight, though I have since read elsewhere that I need to include 15% over that to account for losses that don't stay on the cheese.
Correct. The 1.8% calculation is what you need in order to salt the cheese at 1.5% for exactly this reason. My recipe accounted for this and added the extra 0.3% to the 1.5%, hence 1.8%.

  --- As for the humidity, I thought I was doing really well because my meter was reporting between 92 and 94%.  However, I have come to mistrust it because it started reporting 80% when there was condensate on the top lid.  After that happened, I tried to use your guide of keeping really tiny droplets of condensate on the lid--opening more when bigger droplets appeared and closing more when there were none.
The method with the lid and droplets is best because those RH meters are never accurate close to their top end (most are rated up to 95% or 99% RH anyway). Heck, I wouldn't even put a lid for the first 24-48 hours. It's so wet that whey collects on the bottom.  Did you clean the bottom and empty the collected whey? The cheese must never swim in a puddle of its own whey. That can actually create the problem in your photos too.
From what you are saying it seems that you had overly high moisture in the beginning. This is an issue because it causes the rind to grow prematurely. If the rind grows before the cheese has sufficiently dried and drained, it locks all this excess moisture inside - and there is your ammonia. This is why you want to opt for more traditional strains that take their time.

So, for next time: 
- Flip sooner, even if it doesn't look "stiff enough"?
- Should I add the PC and Geo (in the right proportions this time) to the milk or spray it on (I bought some cute little spray bottles)?  If I spray, I have read to make a brine with 3 or 4% salt, but how much PC and Geo do I add to it?
- I'll include the +15% of the 1.8% salt to make up for losses during dry salting
- I'm a little less confident in maintaining humidity since my meter isn't as trustworthy as I thought.  I live in Colorado Springs, at about 7,000 ft elevation and our humidity level is pretty low.  To get tiny droplets on the lid of my box, I needed a damp paper towel and the lid just barely open, or resting closed (not snapped closed).
- Flip as soon as you can
- you can do either or both. What I love about spraying is that you get much more control over the development. You have the freedom to start spraying when you know that the cheese is dry/drained enough and the liberty to stop the spray regiment when you feel that the bloom is working. Typically I would start at day 4 or 5 and spray thinly once every two days. you should have a nice looking growth after 4-6 sprays
- You can salt with more if you want.
- Don't worry about your ambient atmosphere in Colorado Springs - as long as the cheese is in the box, the moisture holds up in the box.  Initially your cheese will be very moist anyway. No need for paper towels probably for at least a week.

Keep this thread posted!