Author Topic: parmesan too hard  (Read 1323 times)

Offline mavmd

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parmesan too hard
« on: January 30, 2013, 09:23:42 PM »
I have made parmesan 8 times using Ricky's recipe and the first 4 after 8-12 months of aging are so hard I have to hack tiny pieces off with a clever.  The wine cellar cheese cave stays at 56F and 76-78%RH.  Is the cave too dry or did I make a big mistake over and over again?  Thanks
Mike

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 09:38:27 PM »
Tim Smith's book calls for ten months at 55F and 80-85% RH.  It also calls for rubbing with olive oil after two months and several times thereafter to keep the cheese from drying out.

Offline Boofer

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2013, 12:12:54 AM »
Parmesan cheese may be hard. If you look at a typical Parm knife, you can see it's short and stout to cleave off hunks of the hard cheese.

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Offline Tomer1

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 03:44:59 AM »
If you dont want a rock hard parm, vacuum bag or wax after a month or two when you think it has reached the desired "firmness" and continue aging it.
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Offline mikemd

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 10:45:38 AM »
I used olive oil after 3 wks on all of them.  I guess I will try the vacuum bag method.  When I say rock hard I mean rock.  You can't really eat the cheese.  I just wanted to make sure that I was not doing something wrong making it.  Thanks

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 11:10:08 AM »
Also,
hardness on a cooked cheese is a result of curd size and cooking temp/time.

If you are too hard, then these three things are out of proportion to the size of your cheese.

And the situation may be aggravated by too low humidity.

A parm should be tall, this also helps keep it from drying out.

IF you adjust your cooking temp and time slightly down (like, half a degree down, and no more than 5 minutes change in time) and increase your curd size, you will have a softer cheese. But be careful with this, on a cheese like parm SLIGHT differences in these things make HUGE differences in hardness.

So the best advice I can give you is, be EXACT.
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Offline green zebra

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 03:41:06 PM »
Hi All
These are all good suggestions. Being a newbee, i have made 4 parms using 4 different recipes. All of them were small amounts of milk; 2-3 gallons. Two recipes were made with cow's milk (2%) and the remaining two recipes were made with a mixture of cow and goat milks. I too, used Ricki's recipe, once. All 4 recipes were made roughly a year ago.

By the time i chose to consume them (at a year old) i found the results to be pretty much the same. Too hard for my liking. The cantina's temp was pretty steady except for the summer months where the temperatures rose to about 60°.  Humidity had fluctuated as well anywhere from 70-85%. Again, being a newbee i did not pay close attention to the numbers. The heads ended up being very small measuring at about 5" diam x 1 1/2". Compared to the starting size, this is significantly small! I'm learning. I did expect shrinkage, i just did not know how much.

I had read once in Jim Wallace's articles on parms and he said when making  one, you'd be almost wasting your time using recipes with only small amounts of milk as "a larger cheese has a better surface to mass ratio for aging"...of course i read  this AFTER the fact!  My cheese texture was like glass!! Very dangerous to grate on a rasp or a box grater, yielding too little cheese for my poor arm. The grated cheese was not fluffy, although, the aroma and taste were good.

Next time, i would rather use 6 gallons of milk, and watch the temps and humidity closely. In my case, i allowed the cheeses to dry too long for their environment.

Offline margaretsmall

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 07:46:34 PM »
What you can do is age it for a while and then vacuum pack. It won't lose any more moisture, but will still age if kept at the right temperature  in your cave. Disclaimer: This is on the basis  of my two romanos.  I made them in March, aged until June then vacuum packed and put them back into the cave. Some time later found that there was some moisture in the bag of one, took it out, dried it off at room temperature for a few days, cut in half (tasted it!) and bagged again. I opened one half at Christmas and it was just right for grating, and deemed sensational by the family. I thought it was pretty good too.The other half, and the other whole romano are now in the regular fridge, still in their bags, mainly because my cave couldn't cope with the exceptionally hot weather over Christmas.

This is what they looked like in June before they were bagged the first time, and after some rubbing with olive oil.These were both 8l makes, but the smaller one was a mix of milks with a lower fat content, and I was a bit more successful in driving the whey out, I thought. It's therefore surprising to me that the smaller one is the one which was weeping moisture.
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Offline mikemd

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2013, 11:35:54 AM »
Ok, I guess I will go with vacuum packing.  I assume any reasonably cheap machine will do the job or is there a specific one that people use?  Also, I recently made a Hispanico about one month ago.  Should I vacuum pack that one also?  The chiller in the wine cellar is only going to keep the room at a certain humidity and I do not have the where with all yet to make an exclusive cheese area since all I have been making is meteorites.  I made two provolones but they turned to bricks also.  Milk is 5.50 a gallon and I must say I am quite the failure at making cheese.  I will also try to shorten my cook time 5 mins but there is no way I can decrease the temp by 0.5 degrees(thermometer reads every 2 degrees).  I also have a few questions about the gorgonzola dolce I made but that will wait for another day.

Offline mavmd

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2013, 02:37:44 PM »
I worked open 2 more of the parms and these have some voids in the middle of the cheese.  Is this a problem with the cutting of the curds, overcooking, not pressing enough?  No mold or anything and it tastes like a parm just extremely mild and chewy like rubber. I did not add lipase to the first 6 and this one is only 6 months along.

Offline margaretsmall

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2013, 03:37:31 PM »
mikemd -I've got a Sunbeam vacuumer and I'm happy with that.   Cost about A$200 with  two rolls of plastic. Useful for things other than cheese. No doubt cheaper in US, everything in Australia costs more than everywhere else.
mavmd - Someone more expert will have to advise on this, as its not happened to me (yet). Posting what you actually did when you made the cheese would be helpful.
PS are mikemd and mavmd the same person? :)

Offline bbracken677

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2013, 06:08:42 PM »
I worked open 2 more of the parms and these have some voids in the middle of the cheese.  Is this a problem with the cutting of the curds, overcooking, not pressing enough?  No mold or anything and it tastes like a parm just extremely mild and chewy like rubber. I did not add lipase to the first 6 and this one is only 6 months along.

I would assume (depending on what age you cut at) that this is 2 potential problems: 1) too much moisture left in cheese     2) not enough pressure while pressing

if you have managed to work your curds into rice sized pieces and have expelled enough moisture and have aged appropriately then you should not have moisture issues and the void would be as a result of a combination of too much moisture as well as not enough pressure.

Offline Boofer

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 07:44:49 PM »
I used olive oil after 3 wks on all of them.  I guess I will try the vacuum bag method.  When I say rock hard I mean rock.  You can't really eat the cheese.  I just wanted to make sure that I was not doing something wrong making it.  Thanks
Mike, would you please update your profile to include where you are? Thanks.

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Offline mavmd

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 08:11:10 PM »
Yes mikemd and mavmd are me. Just different computer. I did the Rikki recipe and have followed the same recipe the same way everytime.  So if my cheese is too hard because there is not enough moisture but there is too much moisture so it forms voids.  The pressure is the same as she states 12 lbs then 25 lbs flipping every 15 min for the first hour then 4 hours.  Cooking 93-131 degrees in 20 minutes.  Curd size always the same.  So would it be appropriate to try to decrease the cook time and add more pressure?  Or should I just continue doing what I normally do and then vacuum bag it? I live in NC. Will update the profile, sorry.

Offline Boofer

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Re: parmesan too hard
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 12:56:39 AM »
Yes mikemd and mavmd are me. Just different computer.
Um, why not just one identity? :-\

The pressure is the same as she states 12 lbs then 25 lbs flipping every 15 min for the first hour then 4 hours.  Cooking 93-131 degrees in 20 minutes.  Curd size always the same.  So would it be appropriate to try to decrease the cook time and add more pressure?  Or should I just continue doing what I normally do and then vacuum bag it?
You didn't say what size mould you were using or what volume of milk/curds you were dealing with. Seems like a Parm should have more pressure applied to knit together the small curds. Possibly less cooking time would help retain some moisture. I wouldn't be in a hurry to vacuum bag the cheese. It should have a natural rind and then possibly be oiled or waxed.

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