Author Topic: cheese formers  (Read 1052 times)

Offline quidnunc

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cheese formers
« on: March 31, 2013, 07:15:58 AM »
Hi everyone
This is my first post and as stated in my intro I will be asking a lot of questions and apologize in advance for asking questions that have, no doubt, been asked many times before (unfortunately it is difficult to formulate a question in terms that would bring up exact matches in previous inquiries).

So, starting from the premise--to form a cheese you need a former--my first question is: why is it necessary to have so many different (named) formers?  I can understand the difference of having a basket type for soft cheese and a solid one for hard cheese but surely a former is a former is a former?  A search on this term brings up a whole array, most of which seem to be exorbitantly over-price for what after all is a simple plastic container produced in an automatic moulding machine by the million, so why the outrageous cost. 

Having got that off my chest can I make my own moulds from food safe items used for different purposes (such as catering yogurt buckets etc), and if not why not?  All replies will be much appreciated and thanks in advance.

quidnunc


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Offline BobE102330

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 07:53:52 AM »
The shape affects the final cheese, which is why you see a variety of different moulds. (I think that is the convention here, moulds are used to form cheese, molds are organisms used to ripen cheese, although you will find both referred to as molds) 

Shape is perhaps more important with mold ripened cheeses like Brie - a 4" thick Brie will not ripen the center before the outer edges are overripe.  However, it does affect hard cheeses as well.  Some hard cheeses are less affected by shape, but need to have the appropriate thickness. 

You can make soft cheese moulds from yogurt buckets, but they will likely not take the stress of pressing a hard cheese.  I started out with a basket and a 4.5" mould and follower (the hoop doubles as a Camembert mold, I have a couple more).  That served me well until I started making larger batches, so I added a 7.5" tomme mold and a couple of larger baskets.  So, you don't need to spend a fortune unless you want to make cheeses that require specific shapes, usually small white mold ripened cheeses. 

Mold unit cost is small, but startup costs are high.  Have you priced an injector or extruder lately?  Even for simple shapes tooling costs can be tens of thousands of dollars. Can you imagine the government regulations and expense to certify your materials and process food safe?  Then you only want one or two.  I used to sell parts in the aerospace industry.  A part that we sold to Boeing in lots of 500 went for $300, but when an airline called and needed one today it was $2,500.  Part of that was what the market would bear, but a surprising large part was simply reflecting the small lot setup costs and cost of carrying the part in inventory. Yeah, it's frustrating, but I've found that if I factor in even a nominal amount for my time gathering materials an labor, it's not worth trying to make a mold myself.  My girlfriend is trying to get me to apply the same logic to cheese making.  Silly woman.  ;)

Offline Boofer

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 08:24:23 AM »
My experience with finding affordable cheese forms in one case directed me to some microperforated hard moulds that initially cost me ~$12 each. They are stackable, ultimately reusable, very convenient, and enable me to make 3 pound cheeses with ease.

Member iratherfly can perhaps find some affordable cheese forms for you. PM him.

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Offline CheeWilly

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2013, 09:35:45 PM »
Boofer,
Do you happen to have a link to see the molds you decided on?
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Offline quidnunc

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 04:23:00 AM »
Hi
First thanks for your replies.

BobE102330
Quote
The shape affects the final cheese
I can see how different mould shapes will result in different volumes of cheese curd and hence the ripening (is this the correct term for all post curdling processes or does cheese go through different stages with different terminology) time, something else I will need to learn  ;D.

Quote
Mold unit cost is small, but startup costs are high.  Have you priced an injector or extruder lately?  Even for simple shapes tooling costs can be tens of thousands of dollars.
An interesting point and I would concede it.

Boofer
I Purchased a small cheese-making kit which contained a small basket type former and a solid one for pressed cheeses but the operative word here is SMALL. The instructions that came with the kit were very general and the results not very inspiring (the cheese went moldy before they dried out and by the time I had cut that away there was hardly anything left.  This leads me into another question--I have a cider press (quite a robust thing) which has a screw type ram and a plate about 8" dia. and the 'former' is a perforated metal tube in which you put the apples, in a mesh bag, and press out the juice.  Would this be suitable as a cheese press if I used a fine weave bag to hold the curds(or substituted plastic formers)?

There is still much for me to learn about cheese-making so there will be many questions I will be asking (but not all at once).

quidnunc


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Offline BobE102330

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 07:01:08 AM »
The cider press could work but would require frequent attention to keep the desired pressure on as the whey is expelled. Then there is the question of how much pressure is applied. I presume that crushing apples requires far more pressure than forming cheese. You'd need to learn how much force on the wheel generates the required pressure on the cheese. I'm guessing it will be a light touch. On the other hand you could be one of the few artisan cheese makers whose cheese is consistently free of mechanical defects.

Yes, ripening is what happens after forming and before eating.

Undesirable wild mold growth could be a sign that your ripening humidity was too high. I use a remote thermometer/hygrometer to monitor "cave conditions". A humidor hygrometer would work. The condensation on the container side can be a guide as well. With a fine mist collecting you are at 80-85% RH. Heavier drops probably over 90%. Suitable for blues and red molds respectively.

Offline Boofer

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 07:30:47 PM »
Boofer,
Do you happen to have a link to see the molds you decided on?
Check this.

...and also check the Excel spreadsheet.

Here's another one. Sorry, I can't find the page with iratherfly's moulds.

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Offline quidnunc

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Re: cheese formers
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 10:09:01 AM »


Undesirable wild mold growth could be a sign that your ripening humidity was too high. I use a remote thermometer/hygrometer to monitor "cave conditions".

I haven't got to the stage of having a dedicated 'cave' yet, although I do have a second fridge' complete with a thermometer/hygrometer instrument.  However, I have more learning to do on the role temperature and humidity play in the art of cheese-making.

I have just made some soft cheese (from the instruction sheet that came with the dry culture) but have no idea as to what type of cheese it is or what can be done with it apart from eating it.  As I have said above, the instruction that come with these cheese kits is VERY general--heat the milk, add the culture, rest 30 minutes, add the rennet, allow to (ripen?), cut the curd and press (for a hard cheese), and thats it, nothing about temperatures, humidity, pressing force, caves etc. talked about on this forum.  I have to say though the cheese is very nice--smooth and creamy so if nothing else it will serve to make a cheese-cake or some cookies etc.  :)

quidnunc