Author Topic: Basic stuff to buy?  (Read 2073 times)

Offline Ava

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Basic stuff to buy?
« on: November 11, 2012, 10:56:29 PM »
Hi,

My fiance is rather into cooking and would enjoy making his own cheese (and butter) so I want to get him everything he will need for Christmas. He will probably want to make things like Mascarpone, Brie and Red Leicester. I have tried looking into it but it seems quite complicated and so I'm not really sure what to get. So far on my list is:
Starter culture (but which...?)
Rennnet
Moulds
Cheese cloth
Scales

Is a cheese press necessary?

I have also found these two books:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/American-Farmstead-Cheese-Complete-Selling/dp/1931498776/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352532560&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Easy-Home-Made-Cheese-Recipes/dp/0778802183/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352532632&sr=8-1
He does like lots of detail which the first one is supposed to have, however it apparently doesn't include any recipes, hence the second. Do you think they'll be suitable?

Can anyone tell me what he'll need? Would be extremely grateful for any help  :)


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Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 11:26:00 PM »
Hi Ava!
First those books. 200 Homemade cheese making recipes is a great book (IMO). I lost my copy a couple of years ago so I do not have it in front of me. I debated whether or not to mention this but I feel like I had the opinion at one point that it was not the absolute best book for starting out with- not as a solitary reference at least. I am not sure why so please take that with a grain of salt. The recipes are mostly for 4 lb cheeses (instead of 2 lb like most other hobby books here in the US), so that might be something to take into consideration. Of course, with a little math that can be overcome. I do recall liking the explanation, and the number of recipes alone is a good reason to get it. Also, Steve Shapson (www.thecheesemaker.com) recommends it as his number one on his site. Personally, I would take that into consideration. I honestly cannot tell you why I have that nagging feeling in the back of my mind but felt I should mention it for the sake of honesty. It is a very good book and I do recommend it- if nothing else as a good reference or recipe book.

If nothing else, a second book is never a bad idea. I started with "Home Cheese Making" by Ricki Carroll
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Cheese-Making-Ricki-Carroll/dp/1580174647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352697338&sr=1-1
Great book, well written- it is still one of the first I turn to despite having a bunch of cheese books now. My only issue with it is she assumes you are using single serving direct set packets of starter. (I only know of one dedicated cheese making supply company that carries them, so they are arguably not the norm). It is a good book if that does not bother you. A little math or some time on this forum can usually help you "translate" those recipes into actual measurements of different starters.

My personal favorite right now is "Artisan Cheese Making at Home" by Mary Karlin
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Artisan-Cheese-Making-Home-World-Class/dp/1607740087/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352697308&sr=8-1
I like this book a lot. The explanation is excellent and well organized. The recipes seem good to me, I have only tried a couple so far. Some of them are a little different than others I have seen but that is not necessarily bad. The pictures are awesome and the organization is very well laid out.
I have one beef with this book and that is the number of typographical errors in the recipes themselves. If you have been making cheese for years, you can read between the lines and likely might not even notice them but for a beginner- this can be extremely frustrating (I had this problem a couple of times with a few typos is Ricki Carroll's book- google is your friend here). If you get this book (and I think it would be a great choice), make sure you visit her website and download the list of corrections.

Now,
"American Farmstead Cheese" I borrowed this book from the University Library years ago so it has been a while. As I recall this is more of a book on how to set up a small time Farmstead Creamery. It is not a book on cheese making per se- it is more about the logistics and business side of things (again, this is from memory). If you have cows and goats and such and want to make a small business out of it- this book would be good. If you just want to make cheese, I would hold off.

I am sure others might have book suggestions, those are mine.

I have a list of supplies and ingredients that I give to people I meet who are new to cheese making and want to get started (I am not exactly quite about cheese making around my friends). Let me look for that list and follow up. Of course, by then perhaps someone else might chime in with a good list.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 11:41:02 PM »
He will probably want to make things like Mascarpone, Brie and Red Leicester. I have tried looking into it but it seems quite complicated and so I'm not really sure what to get. So far on my list is:
Starter culture (but which...?)
Rennnet
Moulds
Cheese cloth
Scales

Is a cheese press necessary?


Actually, now that I noticed this, I can tell you what you need right now.

First, for all of these you will need the following general supplies.

-A good thermometer (get a couple, just in case... I say that based on experience...)
-You will want two stock pots to form a water bath (or double boiler is the name I guess). I use an inner pot which holds 12 quarts- this if good for 2lb hard cheeses. For the outer I have a 16 quart stock pot (might be 18 quart). The exact numbers are not so important. The inner has to hold the amount of milk you intend to process and the outer has to hold the inner pot and enough water to maintain temperatures and warm the inner pot up slowly.

Now, if you are on a budget, you can get away with just using one pot and heating your milk/curds directly- this is not ideal and will not yield the best results- but it can be done. You can also use your kitchen sink as a warm water bath- I did that too. I very successfully made quite a bit of cheese this way in the beginning.

-You will need something to cut the curds with. This can be a long knife. I am sure you/he have something like this around.
-You will also want measuring spoons which can measure fractions of a teaspoon (for cultures, rennet, et all...).
- You should get some fine weave cheese cloth or butter muslin. This needs to be fine weave (The butter muslin I used to get was 90 threads per inch). The "cheese cloth" we have in the grocery stores in the US is not acceptable for cheese making. Not sure about the UK.
- Some bamboo sushi mats or cheese drying mats (particularly for the brie).
- Cheese wax (for the Red Leicester)
- Calcium Chloride is a good thing to have around if using pasteurized and homogenized milk but you can skip it if need be.
- A slotted spoon or skimmer for stirring and scooping out curds. Again, nothing fancy here.

For brie specifically (I had included Red Leicester in this section before for some reason...)
Get some small spray bottles for spraying on cultures. I would get a few.
You want a hoop mold big enough for brie. You can make this if you want to save some money. Depending on the size of the brie you want- get a food grade tube of some sort about 12-20 cm in diameter and about 10 or so cm in height. You do not need a press for brie.
You will want to get the mold cultures "Penicillium Candidum", "Geotrichum Candidum" some people also like to add a little bit of "Bacteria linens" for flavor (I would consider this non-essential).
For starter culture, a good mesophilic culture. I would get Flora Danica/Aroma B or MA 4001. Flora Danica/Aroma B is often recommended for cheese like brie because the flavor is described as a little more "buttery". MA 4001 is more of a general purpose culture. It has a little bit of thermophilic bacteria in it to speed up ripening a tad as well. Most mesophilic cultures would be fine though. You could even start off with cultured buttermilk at first and go from there. Buttermilk is a mesophilic cultured dairy produce- essentially the same bacteria is used. See this site for more details: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/cheese_course/cheese_course.htm

Mascarpone is a fresh cheese. I have seen a few different recipes but they are usually acidified and coagulated using an acid (lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or tartaric acid are the 4 I have seen). I have only seen one recipe which uses a starter, that is one of the recipes in Carroll's book.

Red Leicester is a hard cheese. In addition to your general equipment and a mesophilic starter, you will need  some kind of press and some kind of mold (consider the size of the cheese you want to make when considering the dimensions of the mold. Feel free to run it by us!). Your press needs to be capable of pressing at least 4 PSI (about 50 lbs for a 2 lb cheese with a 4 in diameter). This does not have to be a fancy expensive press- you can rig something up. A stack of books works if you can pile them up safely and get enough pressure.
Also, for the signature redish color, you will want cheese coloring- usually annatto based.

For all of these, you also need cheese salt (or kosher salt). Basic idea here is you want iodine free salt, preferably free of other additives. Kosher salt seems to be ok.

- You mentioned scales (As in kitchen scales I assume?). These are nice and good for weighing out ingredients. If you are on a budget, I would say skip it.
- Eventually, a pH meter is handy, but again I would worry about that later.

I hope this list helps. My suggestion again- get some recipes (like those three listed) and see what they entail/require. Another thought, search around here on CF and see what people's experiences have been with particular cheeses. Brie for instance has a reputation of being a little more of an advanced cheese since there is more room for error. It may not be the best to start with. (Then again, for some people it is not that bad. You never know...)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 01:35:09 AM by mightyMouse.tar.gz »
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 01:42:54 AM »
Oh, another thought, some places offer beginners kits. Some are better than others but might be worth looking in to....

And now that I think of it. For brie in particular, you will probably want some kind of ripening box. Nothing fancy here, just needs to keep humidity up but allow some airflow. I use a plastic shoe storage box. The cost me about a dollar and are really flimsy but perfect for this purpose!

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

Offline Ava

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2012, 03:22:37 AM »
MightyMouse, thanks so much! You've been really helpful   :D

I'm glad you told me about American Farmstead Cheese, I'll miss that out and get Home Cheese Making instead.

For all of these, you also need cheese salt (or kosher salt). Basic idea here is you want iodine free salt, preferably free of other additives. Kosher salt seems to be ok.
We have sea salt - I've never seen Kosher salt, but it sounds like it might be the same thing. On the packet it says there's nothing added, so do you think that'd work?

- Calcium Chloride is a good thing to have around if using pasteurized and homogenized milk but you can skip it if need be.
Is pasteurised or raw milk better for making cheese?

Regarding the ripening box, will it need to be stored in the fridge?

I'm going to look for the stuff you mentioned now and have a read of the forum. Thank you again  :) (And sorry for the further questions!)

Kind of looking forward to this myself, we both really love cheese  ;D


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Offline Shazah

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2012, 03:51:31 AM »
Hi Ava
I have just purchased a book called The Cheesemaker's Apprentice by Sasha Davies with David Bleckmann. 

I so wish I had access to a book like this when I first started making cheese.  It has some great recipes, pictures of the various processes and explanations about why it's important to follow the instructions. eg ingredients, equipment, curd size, draining, pressing, wrapping etc. It also has some good interviews with cheesemakers from Europe and America and it has measurements in both imperial and metric.

It's not just a great book for any cheesemaking enthusiast, it's one you will want to read from cover to cover.

Cheers
Sharon
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― Anthony Bourdain

Offline Ava

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2012, 05:40:31 AM »
Hi Ava
I have just purchased a book called The Cheesemaker's Apprentice by Sasha Davies with David Bleckmann. 

I so wish I had access to a book like this when I first started making cheese.  It has some great recipes, pictures of the various processes and explanations about why it's important to follow the instructions. eg ingredients, equipment, curd size, draining, pressing, wrapping etc. It also has some good interviews with cheesemakers from Europe and America and it has measurements in both imperial and metric.

It's not just a great book for any cheesemaking enthusiast, it's one you will want to read from cover to cover.

Cheers
Sharon

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll have a look at that :)

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2012, 06:15:42 AM »
Hi Ava,
My favorite book is Mastering Artisan Cheesemakinghelp by Gianaclis Caldwell.  The book bt Ricki Carroll has a number of typos in the amounts in recipes plus isn't as helpful in certain other areas such as mold choices.  It does have some good illustrations of certain steps but most books have that. 

The big issue with milk is not using ultra pasteurized milk.  Raw is best if you have a good clean source and you could pasteurize that if you wanted to.......I haven't ever.

Many of us have creatively rigged pressing options for the first while.  Brie doesn't need pressing at all.

Many suggest using plastic mats rather than the sushi mats because it's hard to prevent contamination caused by molds being absorbed by the bamboo.  Medium weave matting is best.

A good website for the very beginning is Green Gavin's cheese site.  it's something like www.littlegreencheese.com. He has video tutorials and although he doesn't get into some of the finer points of srtisanal cheese making he's a reassuring starter resource.  A his Caerphilly cheese recipe is a nice mild hard cheese that can be eaten after only 3 weeks aging and only needs simple ingredients.

I started using two pots to create a double boiler but use a pot set into warm wTer in the sink mostly now.

For thermometers I suggest a digital one.  They aren't expensive and are much easier when monitoring temp.

I'd also recommend the mundane addition of some dish towels that are only used when cheese making.....I seem to go though a lot as there is a need to lay sterilized thing out, wash and dry hands a zillion times, etc.

Good luck!


Offline Ava

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2012, 06:52:17 AM »
Tiarella, thanks for the tips, I will have a look at the book you've suggested as well.

I'll definitely not get the UHT milk. I'm going to look for raw milk but am not sure I'll be able to find any around here...

Many suggest using plastic mats rather than the sushi mats because it's hard to prevent contamination caused by molds being absorbed by the bamboo.  Medium weave matting is best.

Would these work? : http://www.cheesemaking.co.uk/cgi-bin/web_store.cgi?product=Cheese%20matting&cart_id=8206791_23957

So, live cultured buttermilk can be used instead of any starter culture? It would be a lot cheaper... and my partner has asked me to ask whether the same culture can sort of be continued so you don't need to buy more? Apparently this is done with yoghurt?

Offline SwiftPint

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2012, 07:20:17 AM »
Ava,

I'm based in England too & have only just started making cheese,  raw milk is hard to come by in London but I seem to have had good results using 1/2 Jersey Gold Top ( this is unhomogenised & is available in most supermarkets) ,1/2 Normal Whole Milk.  (I also have added a small pot of full cream to my Roquefort recipe - not sure if this is necessary though).

Having bought equipment recently I would be wary of starter kits,  they always seem a bit overpriced for what you get.  Have a look around and price up what you need & see what works best for you.

I've had good experience with the following site,  which stocks pretty much everything you will need:  http://gnltd.co.uk/goat-nutrition/cheese-making-products.html


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Offline Ava

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2012, 10:05:34 AM »
Ava,

I'm based in England too & have only just started making cheese,  raw milk is hard to come by in London but I seem to have had good results using 1/2 Jersey Gold Top ( this is unhomogenised & is available in most supermarkets) ,1/2 Normal Whole Milk.  (I also have added a small pot of full cream to my Roquefort recipe - not sure if this is necessary though).

Having bought equipment recently I would be wary of starter kits,  they always seem a bit overpriced for what you get.  Have a look around and price up what you need & see what works best for you.

I've had good experience with the following site,  which stocks pretty much everything you will need:  http://gnltd.co.uk/goat-nutrition/cheese-making-products.html


Ooh, thanks, never saw that when I was looking before. :) I'll have a look for the Jersey Gold Top milk.

You will want to get the mold cultures "Penicillium Candidum", "Geotrichum Candidum"

(Sorry, another question...) Will he need both of those?

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2012, 10:29:50 AM »
Keep asking questions since it's the best way to get answers!   ;D.  I have made Brie without the Geo and thought it turned out wonderfully but there are those who insist that it's better with Geo.  You can make it either way.

The cheese matting page you posted has a wide range of mesh it looks like.  it's a bit difficult for me to see them clearly even enlarged but the first mesh looks like my favorite ones that I have.  if you can, find someone who sells by the lineal foot or whatever off a roll.  it's cheaper and you can cut your own bigger pieces.  That is handy when using a plastic box (to ripen in, aids in controlling moisture levels) and wanting a piece that fits properly so that you can put several small Brie cheeses in it.  I usually put some upside down lids under my mesh to raise it up off the bottom of the box.  Some people use the plastic grids made for large fluorescent lights and cut that to fit.  I'd still put mesh over that since I doubt that is food grade plastic.

Hope you aren't overwhelmed.  You truly don't need all that much and you can add items as you need them.  All you really need is a good pot that will hold however much milk you'll be using, a long curd cutting knife (which again can be any long skinny knife that will reach the bottom of your pot), a digital thermometer, some mats, a cookie cooling rack (you can put the mesh over that on a cookie tray with raised edges to catch the draining whey, cheesecloth, and some molds to put the curd into.  (options for those depend upon what you want to make).  For ingredients, other than milk you'll need the cultures listed in your recipe and salt.  I use sea salt and have good luck with that.  The cookie rack and tray set up I mention would be used for cheeses that just drain instead of being pressed.

Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2012, 01:23:00 PM »
Many suggest using plastic mats rather than the sushi mats because it's hard to prevent contamination caused by molds being absorbed by the bamboo.  Medium weave matting is best.

Another problem with bamboo is that some mats can impart a bamboo like flavor to your cheese- particularly when new. I generally run them through the dishwasher a time or two before using them. I have never used plastic cheese mats but would like to try in the near future now that I am doing more mold ripened cheeses.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline margaretsmall

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2012, 03:15:36 PM »
If you can find one within a reasonable distance, the best gift of all would be a beginners cheesemaking course - in one day you learn the basics of cheesemaking, and lots of stuff which are difficult to grasp even from the best of books.  I'd suggest the Caldwell book above the others.
Margaret

Offline Ava

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Re: Basic stuff to buy?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2012, 11:03:59 PM »
Okay, I think I'll leave the Geotrichum Candidum and if he decides he wants to try using it I'll buy him some then.

Thanks for the advice about mats. Might have a look on ebay and see if they have any rolls.

I'm thinking of getting two of the 100x100x100 open ended moulds on page 2 here: http://www.cheesemaking.co.uk/cgi-bin/web_store.cgi?product=Cheese%20Moulds&cart_id=831186_6073 - are these right for brie? I'm not sure what to get for red leicester - does it need to be steel? Can only seem to find plastic moulds  :-\

Flora Danica seems to be unavailable in the UK, so I'm going to get the MA 4001.

If you can find one within a reasonable distance, the best gift of all would be a beginners cheesemaking course - in one day you learn the basics of cheesemaking, and lots of stuff which are difficult to grasp even from the best of books.  I'd suggest the Caldwell book above the others.
Margaret

The courses I've come across are in more rural areas of England (too far away), though it's not really his sort of thing anyway. Good suggestion though.

EDIT - Actually, I'm now looking at these moulds instead: http://gnltd.co.uk/cheese-making-mold-13-open-cylinder.html
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 01:34:55 AM by Ava »