Author Topic: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?  (Read 379 times)

Offline sarak

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smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« on: January 02, 2014, 06:35:57 PM »
Hello!  This is my first time posting - and, not surprisingly, it is a question about my first hard cheese.  Almost a week ago I made a two - gallon cheddar, which is currently air-drying.  I did not do a fantastic job of smoothing about the cheesecloth, and as a result the surface of the cheese has a lot of wrinkles and looks scraggly.  I am planning on waxing it soon, and I am concerned about achieving a good seal between the wax and the cheese.  I was thinking of taking a potato peeler and smoothing out the surface before waxing.  Is this a good idea?  I was going to use a brush to apply the wax, unless I can use my crockpot and still be able to cook with it afterwards.

BTW - the dill Havarti that I pressed yesterday is beautifully smooth - so I guess I'm improving...


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Offline Kirkbybil

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Re: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 06:20:42 AM »
Hi,

I started out waxing all my cheeses and I think that it is one of the best ways to cope with a cheese that doesn't have a perfect surface as, if done correctly, the wax will seal any imperfections (as long as they are not huge cracks).

I didn't use a brush though, I bought a very cheap saucepan from the discount store and just keep the wax in it, leaving it to reset after each use. Whenever I need it I just heat it up on the cooker until it is liquid, check the temperature and dip the cheese on one side, leave that to set for a minute then rotate it and dip the other side.  I then repeat this to get a good coating.  This way I get a lovely smooth professional looking cheese. I have seen some very rough brush applications which I'm sure works but I don't imagine the seal is as good and it looks really messy and not as nice when finished

A few pointers I learned:

1. Make sure the cheese rind is dry before you wax so 3-5 days depending on cheese seems to work for me.

2. You shouldn't heat the saucepan of wax directly as it is flammable and the fumes aren't pleasant. You should use a double boiler, i.e. put the saucepan into a bigger saucepan filled with hot water and apply heat to the water to heat the smaller saucepan to melt the wax. Having said that I do heat it directly as I'm impatient but I never leave it unwatched and I have it under an extractor to remove any fumes.

3. The wax should be above 100°C (212°F) for the first coat. (I aim for 110°C/230°F ). This flashes off any surface moisture so the wax sticks better and I also assume that it must kill off any surface bacteria etc as, before I started checking the temperature, I got mould growing under the wax, now I don't. 

4. I then remove from the heat and fill the larger saucepan with cold water to cool the wax as the second coat should then be done at around 75°C (170°F). The higher the temp, the thinner the coat so the second, thicker coat, ensures you cover any pinholes etc. Oh - and I also stick a label to the wax at this point so I remember cheese name/dates etc.

5. It's good to have some greaseproof paper around to stand the cheese on while the wax sets.

6. I then leave the pan to cool and, once set, pop the lid on and put in a cupboard until next time I need it.

Hope that helps you!

Kirkbybil



Offline Digitalsmgital

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Re: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 07:20:37 AM »
Thanks Kirbybil! I have only waxed two goudas so I don't have as much experience, but I did pretty much what you did.

I don't think that the small "stretch marks" where the cheese cloth wasn't tailor-fit to the ridge of the wheel while pressing needs to be smoothed out, but it wouldn't hurt the cheese to whittle them off, just wasteful.

I don't use professionally-made cheese molds yet, so my wheels look very, shall we say, rustic! A few weeks after waxing the first one I noticed the wax was wet every morning when I turned it over, it didn't air-dry enough and was weeping whey. When I tore off the wax it looked fine, except one "bad" spot on the ridge of the wheel where the whey had pooled. My homemade mold/hoop thingy leaves a mountainous ridge around the edge of the wheel during pressing, so this small area got trimmed off, the whole thing got air-dried another couple of days, and then re-waxed. No biggie!
Regards, Dave

Offline sarak

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Re: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 08:55:38 AM »
Thank you both for great information!  I turned her this morning (yes, I anthropomorphize my cheese) and she looks like she is almost ready for waxing.  There are no cracks, just dents and a slight rim at the top.  I'll try Kirbybil's method.  My biggest concern is pockets for mold to grow in, if it looks nice that is a bonus.    :)

Offline Kirkbybil

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Re: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 09:07:24 AM »
I use PVC pipe as moulds with holes drilled and, although I'ver read you shouldn't use them as they're not food grade, I have never had an issue.

I use wooden formers made out of a dark hardwood which I sealed and so I also occasionally get a rim/lip around the top of cheeses but I trim these straight away with a very sharp knife.

If you can use the same method as I do to dip the cheese then I don't think you will have any problem with pockets as the wax will run into smaller ones and just coat larger ones. If you use a brush, just make sure that the wax is runny enough to fill these areas and hot enough to kill any nasties and prevent anything growing under it.

If you do get any issues its very easy to just peel the wax off and re-do it as I've had to do a couple of times if there's been mould underneath or I just anted to try a bit!



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Offline Pete S

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Re: smooth surface of cheddar before waxing?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 12:35:26 PM »
Quote
I use PVC pipe as moulds with holes drilled and, although I'ver read you shouldn't use them as they're not food grade, I have never had an issue.
 




   I use the white PVC that is for both hot & cold water so I think they are food grade.  Pete
THE MORE I LEARN----THE MORE THERE IS TO LEARN---PETE