Author Topic: Records Journal/Log - Advice  (Read 1552 times)

Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Records Journal/Log - Advice
« on: November 04, 2012, 09:25:47 PM »
Greetings all,
I was not sure where to put this so I figured the dump bin would be a good spot.

I am wondering how people take notes on their cheese makes. What do you record? What kinds of data do you try to capture? What media to you record this too? Etc...

Personally, I prepare a basic text document ahead of time with each step in my plan, as I am making the cheese I record times (and dates) when milestones occur. pH, flocculation, etc... I also record just my general thoughts, smells, if something crosses my mind I write it down. I make special note of my perceived mistakes and how I think they will effect the end product (that way, later on I can verify if my predictions were correct). I try to grab photos when appropriate as well.

Alright, your turn.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }


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Offline OzzieCheese

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 12:49:20 AM »
Hi,

I record everything from the temperature I start the milk at how long it takes to heat how much of everythng how heavy, what it pressed like, the dry weight even tthe brand of milk and cream.  Here is what I record and how on the Caerphilly I made this weekend.

http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,10375.0.html

If I had a Ph meter I'd record that to.  I use continual Word document with every cheese I've made, especially the failures, and the tasting notes as well.

Everything...

-- Mal
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Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 02:09:55 AM »
Man, you were not kidding. You do include everything! Very cool.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2012, 07:14:30 AM »
Oddly, perhaps, I bought a journal and record my makes there initially. I start by writing the recipe I am using, along with the type of milk and beginning pH. The journal is handy because I can keep it in the kitchen and not worry about my laptop getting wet, dropped etc.
I record my target temps and target pH at critical points...

I have been gravitating towards a listing of those targets and how closely I match, and then a separate section for the methodology or rather, the specific steps taken during the make. Times spent at each step is also helpful because it can tell you a few things regarding how well the process is moving along in relation to either past makes or the initial recipe if it is your very first make with that recipe.

Offline Gobae

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 10:06:35 AM »
Are these notes for cheeses that you're making "from scratch"? Or do you write them even if you're using an established book recipe? It seems like if it's for the latter you'd be rewriting a lot of the published recipe all over again and again.


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Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2012, 01:26:14 PM »
Are these notes for cheeses that you're making "from scratch"? Or do you write them even if you're using an established book recipe? It seems like if it's for the latter you'd be rewriting a lot of the published recipe all over again and again.

Either or I would imagine. I do for both. The idea (for me) is not to rewrite how to make the cheese, it is to record what actually happened during a particular make as well as to serve as a pre-make prep. My notebook also serves as my summarizing the steps I intend to take and when I need to take them (like a game plan). If something goes right (or wrong) you have it recorded and can determine how it may have effected the end product. You never know. That "wrong" may have actually been a new creative technique in disguise. If you do not have note of it and forget, its lost. That's my thought at least. Then again, I have a science background so that is probably part of it. That's why I asked the question, I am wondering what others do. My cheese notes are formatted almost exactly like my lab notebooks in college. Only thing missing is pictures of beakers full of strange liquids.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline Spellogue

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2012, 03:34:33 PM »
My approach, simplistic as it may be, has been to record my make notes in one file in the notepad app on my iPhone.  I always have my phone handy, so I'm inclined to make more thorough and frequent notes than if I had to keep track of a notebook.  Thumbtyping in the heat of the moment can be a bit wonky and I tend to use shorthand, so I go back and clean up the text from time to time.

I stick at least loosely to a format including assigning a series code to the make for tracking purposes in matching to the aging cheese.  I give the cheese a name, or at least record the type.  I list out the milk and it's temp/handling.  Cultures, temps and times are recorded as are any adjuncts.  Rennet amounts and coagulation times.  Notes on the curd cut and handling, methods for draining, pressing, drying.  Any aging care notes and observances.  And finally tasting notes and dates. 

Often I will copy and paste the first half of a similar cheese's notes and modify them for a new make to cut down on the typing.  I do use the same format for note taking whether following a published recipe or building a homegrown one.

Now that the repertoire is growing and I'm doing second and third makes of the same cheeses I need to develop a rating system.

All my cheese photos are in my iPhone too, I haven't figured out a way to attach directly from my phone camera into a forum post.  I post from my iPhone a lot.
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Offline OzzieCheese

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2012, 05:02:29 PM »
One of the reasons I note everything is to note also where I deviate from the 'Published' Recipe.  These sometimes don't work as well as intended, the culture I use is not exactly the same type and renet is never the same strength - which is where the Flocculation method of determining curd cutting time is so much more repeatable.  For example The renet I have at the moment is only 240 IMCU (International Milk Coagulation Units - I had to look that up :) and depending on the cream content, the acidification level of the milk when starting, The temperature all play a part in the curd set and if you don't keep that level of notes - and the cheese is a sucess - you might not be able to reproduce you results.  My family is very partial to my Caerphilly with extra cream and they let  me know when it is different - Good or Bad.

It's all a learning experience.

--  Mal
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2012, 09:30:18 PM »
Understanding the process is important. Notes, if used properly, are a good tool for understanding the consequences of our actions as cheesemakers.

Scientific analysis was mentioned above. We could approach cheesemaking in that way. If we could make a cheese according to the theoretical 'perfect' recipe, we could then observe how deviations from that recipe affect the quality of the cheese. Of course, it's not possible to make the 'perfect' cheese, because there are always unpredictable variables.

And this brings up a point, the good cheesemaker needs to take into account considerably more than just his part in the process. Yes, we need to observe our ability to meet time and temperature and acidity targets. But we also need to keep account of the things that are beyond our control.
What season of the year is the cheese made?
What was the outside humidity? Humidity in the room where the cheese was made?
What was the air pressure?
Outside/inside air temp?
Weather conditions?
Are you at a significantly different altitude than the person who made the recipe?
Some might argue, what was the phase of the moon and the position of the sun?

These things we have little to no power to change, but they affect how bacteria work and need to be taken into account.
We always practice, for example, that a little more time and a little more heat are needed when the weather is foul, particularly when it is cold and wet.

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Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2012, 11:04:24 PM »
Understanding the process is important. Notes, if used properly, are a good tool for understanding the consequences of our actions as cheesemakers....

I was hoping you'd chime in, I have been following your posts. Do you keep notes on your cheesemaking sessions? I know your batches are much larger.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }


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Offline OzzieCheese

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2012, 11:08:51 PM »
And isn't that the wonder that is cheese ...  All the recipes in the world are for nought if the practioner doesn't practice.  Getting your hands into it, smelling it, tasting it all becomes part of the Art.  It's hard to get passionate over the microscopic scientific processes, I know, I read the Technology of Cheese making and to be quite honest bored the pants off me.  But, getting to watch and care over a growing entity like this http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,10377.0.html and watching the enjoyment it produces is where the real value is.   I could find out what the moulds were but frankly I think it would ruin the romance.  If I record everything and to the best of my abilty control that which I can, and adjust for that which I can't then and do it consistently .... Happiness 8)

--Mal
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2012, 08:31:34 AM »
I am wondering how people take notes on their cheese makes. What do you record? What kinds of data do you try to capture? What media to you record this too? Etc...
You can search and find quite a few threads on worksheets and logs in the forum.

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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2012, 05:52:51 PM »
I was hoping you'd chime in, I have been following your posts. Do you keep notes on your cheesemaking sessions? I know your batches are much larger.

No I don't, or that is to say I do not write any notes down. But also when producing a big cheese:
1. it is easier to stay on target, as changes in temperature are slow
2. it is vital to stay on target as a mistake means $300 down the drain.
And also using a whey culture, I have to be extremely regular and repetitive in everything I do.
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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2012, 09:14:21 AM »
Alp, as a commercial producer, you need to take notes and document EVERYTHING that you do. If/when the FDA shows up to inspect, the first thing they are going to do is look at all of your records. This includes not only your cheese making, but your milk handling/processing as well. This could really become an issue with your use of whey culture. They are going to want to see written records to document how you prevent ongoing contamination, etc... You need to have a formal written procedure sheet showing the exact steps that someone else can follow. This is extremely important, even if you are the only one doing it. If someone else is helping you, family or outsider, the FDA will grill them to be sure they are following that procedure exactly.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 09:20:16 AM by Sailor Con Queso »
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Records Journal/Log - Advice
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2012, 10:02:11 AM »
Yes, records we do have. This I know, there are certain things we have to do to satisfy the law.

But these are simple things, consisting of a chart with our standard procedure and blanks to fill in.
We track things like how much milk went in to start, how much culture, how much rennet. We also record on our charts the acidity (TA) of the culture.

Not really what I would consider notes, though maybe you would. I don't ever right down any detailed observations or anything like that. Just a few simple variables. I do note if a particular cheese for some reason or another variesd from the recipe. That cheese is watched closely and then at the end it will probably not go to market. (The cheesemaker needs to eat, too)

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