Author Topic: Horribly cracked wheel!  (Read 1240 times)

Offline Banjoza

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Horribly cracked wheel!
« on: December 21, 2012, 02:49:35 AM »
I'm not certain if this is the right place for my question, or if this issue has been addressed elsewhere (I've looked).

I often (always) get curds that will not compress or form a smooth and cohesive lump like the pictures I have seen on this board.  My wheels are very cracked, in fact the last one I made had the individual little pieces of curd stay separate and never did form a solid wheel, it was very dry too. 

To use a flying expression it is rather like the curd are just flying in formation, they are not a block and DEFINITELY not smooth.  I have heard the expression "paste" used on this board, if it refers to the stage of the curds as they are put into the press, then I never achieve a "paste" cheese.

I think my problem is with the rennet/cutting/holding-warm stage as I frequently get distracted and leave things in the warm bath too long, both before and after cutting.  Would that be the cause do you think? - too long?  - too hot? - not hot enough? (I do follow the recipes with regard to temps though).  I can't measure ph. at this stage.

Any advice please?


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Offline Schnecken Slayer

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2012, 02:58:41 AM »
I think if you could provide times and temperatures for each stage with a brief description then the more experienced members could help out a lot more.
-Bill
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Offline Banjoza

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2012, 04:26:51 AM »
Oh well Schnecken, there's the rub!  Firstly what I actually end up doing, and what the recipe SAYS to do are usually two different things (and I haven't been keeping notes). In fact I strongly suspect that is where the problem is arising. 

However tonight and tomorrow I plan to do a quite big make of Halloumi and Ricotta and this time I will try to stick very rigidly to the recipe AND keep make-notes.  I will post the results tomorrow or the next day, if the world still exists then.

Actually that also might not be any sort of clue to the problem because Halloumi is a very forgiving cheese I find, and it isn't moulded either. Sometimes it has lots of cracks (before the cooking stage) so it might say something. We'll see.

Thank you for all your informative and helpful replies Schnecken, I have been reading many of your posts and they are always good.

Offline Schnecken Slayer

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 05:07:27 AM »
I believe that you can make a good Haloumi and Ricotta tomorrow, If you are patient and dedicated.
Stick to the task at hand and stick closely to the recipe!

Have a look at this make here first: http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,9364.0.html

-Bill
One day I will add something here...

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2012, 08:10:27 AM »
Keeping make notes, noting exceptions and procedures can help tremendously when problem solving...

On the other hand, I have made a few cheddars that turned out much like what you describe, and for me the issue was warmth of the curds during the initial pressing. When you first press your curds you need to find a way to maintain some warmth in the curds and the immediate area around them in the press. I bought a very cheap stainless stock pot from wal-mart for $7 and use that...combine that with molding the curds while still warm make a huge difference in the knit you get. Follow that up with slow drying and you will see a huge difference in how your rind turns out.


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Offline bbrown131211

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 08:27:30 AM »
Hmmm! Use a crockpot to keep curds warm. Sounds promising. Can you explain a bit more how you keep curds in crock? Do you put the crock inside the press? I use either a dutch style or regular press, but have trouble visualizing the crock fitting. I wonder if a heating pad under the assembly would work?

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 08:32:43 AM »
I use a stock pot ...it is merely to create a somewhat enclosed place around the mold during pressing.

One recommended way to "press in the pot" would be to place the stock pot in your sink with hot water in the sink, and then place a weight on top of the form inside the pot and close the lid...this would give you the warmth necessary for your first pressing and could move to your dutch press after that.

A heating pad underneath would probably work as long as you didn't give it enough pressure to short wires.  :)

Offline Banjoza

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2012, 01:29:17 PM »
the issue was warmth of the curds during the initial pressing.

Ah HA! A cheese to you for this! @bbracken677 I think you just nailed it for me.  I made two batches of Halloumi and Ricotta today and the first one I cut the curds large and took them out fairly early. The curd was very soft and wet. It moulded (initial mould) ok but was fragile. I put it into the heating whey and treated it very gently. It looks ok but the fact that it is maybe too wet and fragile worries me a bit. I think the brine bath may draw out some of the moisture though and make it a bit firmer.

The second batch I cut much smaller and stirred it as the recipe said, keeping very strictly to the times etc.  I had a battle to get the temp up because I was using a plastic tub and eventually I got fed up and took off a lot of the whey, heated it on the stove and poured it back over the curd. Then I left it for about fifteen minutes, drained and pressed it - and it was absolutely wonderful.  There were no cracks, the curd was firm and formed, everything was perfect and the only difference from the way I usually make my cheeses was the heat around the curd, just before I drained it.  (Today was a stinking hot day - 32 deg C - so the curd didn't lose much heat while it intitially pressed).

Thanks so much for your tips and advice - Happy Christmas to you all. Peace and prosperity for the new year.

Offline Susan

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2012, 12:00:28 PM »
If I need warm my cheese a little during pressing I wrap a seed starter mat around it and plug it in.  I'm not sure what temp it gets to... maybe 80s or 90F.  Simple, Inexpensive. Portable, Versatile.  Someone here suggeted that to me a bit ago (? Sailor). Sometimes I wrap a big towel around the outside of the mat.  Good luck!
Susan

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2012, 01:14:06 PM »
If you simply put the warm whey into a 2 gallon pot and sit the mold in there while pressing the coldest it's going to get is 70F.  At least that's the coldest it will get in my house unless I put it in the garage.  Tying a heating pad, or whatever you might have, to the side will keep it even warmer.  It doesn't have to completely encircle the pot.

Why are you kissing a giraffe?  They have black tongues.  Can't be healthy. LOL

« Last Edit: December 24, 2012, 02:19:10 PM by Al Lewis »


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Offline Susan

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Re: Horribly cracked wheel!
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 06:56:21 PM »
Because everyone was doing it?  ::)   Black... and VERY slimy!
Susan