Author Topic: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making  (Read 1737 times)

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #30 on: March 04, 2016, 03:56:11 PM »
I've searched for these.  My conclusion was that they are unique to Australia.  I could be wrong but I have not found them in the US.   :'(

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #31 on: March 04, 2016, 04:27:17 PM »
I am a believer in using saturated salt solutions for calibrating humidity sensors and they are effective in mini-cave environments; here is a link with some good info. to "dial in" your target %RH. 


I am intrigued by the control of humidity by use of a saturated salt solution.  I learned about this a zillion years ago in my college Physical Chemistry class and promptly forgot about it after the final test.  For grins I did a little research and came up with the pros and cons of using this method.  I think that a shallow depth likely overcomes most of the cons.

What I could not find out is whether two salts would provide for intermediate results.  If so, one could "dial a RH" with a blend of sodium and potassium chloride.  Wouldn't that be fun!  I think that I will try it and see.   ;)

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #32 on: March 04, 2016, 04:33:47 PM »
If you really want to get technical on saturated salt solution humidity control this is the report you are looking for.  Binary in this case means the salt and solvent:  potassium chloride and water, for example.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2016, 04:38:53 PM by Kern »

Offline Frodage3

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #33 on: March 05, 2016, 11:11:04 AM »
Whoa! That is one nice publication, Kern. If I understood the table on page 4 correctly, a saturated table salt solution at 10 degrees C will give me 76% relative humidity. Very useful. Thanks!

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2016, 12:56:14 PM »
You are correct, Frodage3, but note that that applies to a saturated solution of Potassium Chloride (KCl), not ordinary table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl).  The NaCl comes in at an RH of about 75% for most temperatures.  That's why I wondered about a mixture of the two.  Give credit to John@PC (page 2) for posting the original table and note that I had forgotten all about this over the past half-century.

I've found an inexpensive source of KCl and it is here.  I did the math and this is about 99% KCl.  You need pretty pure stuff to get this to work as per the table.  There are cheaper sources on Amazon but the negative comments indicate that some particular brands have a lot of impurities.  Buyer beware!  I've purchased quite a bit of dried food from Bulkfoods over the past couple of years and highly recommend them.

Incidentally, KCl saturates at 360 grams of KCl per 1000 grams of water at 77F.  So, do the math on the amount you need before ordering. 

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2016, 11:18:25 AM »
The boxes in the picture, complete with grid, are made by Decor. Don't know if you have them in the US?
  You can get something very similar at Cash & Carry, a restaurant supply store, over here.  The one is the photo is approx 9" x 11".  They come in various sizes.  Made by Cambro in Huntington Beach.  http://www.cambro.com/Catalog/
Making the World a Safer Place, One Cheese at a Time!  http://alewis64.blogspot.com/

Offline Beans

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2016, 11:22:05 AM »
The cheesecloth wall will also help to contain the blue mold from spreading throughout the room.  I often lightly wrap my blues in a single layer of cheesecloth in my cave to help keep the roqueforte to itself.

Does that work well for you?  I have the worst time keeping roq off the other cheeses.  I have sanitized the cave, tried containers...still blue mold.  Its relentless. 

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2016, 12:25:37 PM »
I still get the occasional spot of blue but hardly ever.  I also keep the blue on the bottom shelf.
Making the World a Safer Place, One Cheese at a Time!  http://alewis64.blogspot.com/

Offline mikey687

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2016, 03:54:43 PM »
I'll admit this is a totally unexplored area but my chemical engineering background told me to try it out.

My own empirical experience so far is that you have to have a very big surface area of the sink to get a reasonable influence over the relative humidity in the space. I don't have enough data to prove anything single variably yet, but I get the feeling that the KCl sinks are just attenuating the natural humidity swings.

For example, I noticed 4-5 weeks ago that I was starting to lose a bit of mass in the weekly weigh ins and that a small tiny crack was starting to appear at one end on the crust. Humidity was a steady 85%.

I wasn't ready to pierce just then so I immediately added a hard surface to the cheese cloth wall. I leaned the large lid of the container against the cheese cloth wall so that I was reducing the air flow rate by at least 95% (I left the base away so some air movement could still take place). Humidity went up and stayed at a nice stable 90%+ and no more cracks. Logically, the kCl sinks should have started fighting this but they are clearly too small to win.

I've noticed that when I had the environment at 85%, I had to replenish them with water to keep a slushy saturated mixture, but now they are swimming in excess water (so essentially no longer sinks).

************************************************

Side note:

Alongside this Stichelton I made a big Cambozola wheel and tried a similar technique with it but slightly different. I made it a mini cave out of acrylic sheet glued together in a box and then laser cut large holes in the base and ceiling of the box (none of which you can see in the picture!). I then on a daily basis used pieces of plastic to cover or expose these holes and managed to maintain a pretty constant 95% humidity just from the cheese itself.

However, what I found was that the box started to act like a chimney and so there was a steady but small constant flushing of air but at high humidity. It really liked this and the PC grew like crazy.

My next project would be to combine the two mechanisms into a larger box and use a kCL sink with a very large surface area immediately below the base. Then I would use the natural convection to slowly pull air in over the sink before it goes into the cave area above through the holes and then out the top.

************************************************

The big thing for me is that the cheese itself is very happy. Really slow stable growth of the crust moulds. Nothing running away but everything growing nicely. Nothing bad looking on the outside, no blue run away, all interesting whites, browns and maybe a hint of pinks. Smells very nice and mellow. I think I've just been very lucky to find the right conditions for this particular cheese.

I'm supposedly 4 more weeks till I'm opening it up but I'm starting to climb the walls. I think I'm going to give up at Easter.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you make your first cheese.”

Offline mikey687

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2016, 04:31:19 PM »
Something like this maybe:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you make your first cheese.”

Offline Frodage3

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2016, 10:35:14 AM »
The boxes in the picture, complete with grid, are made by Decor. Don't know if you have them in the US?
  You can get something very similar at Cash & Carry, a restaurant supply store, over here.  The one is the photo is approx 9" x 11".  They come in various sizes.  Made by Cambro in Huntington Beach.  http://www.cambro.com/Catalog/

Thanks Al - I will check them out too.

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2016, 12:18:37 PM »
I'll admit this is a totally unexplored area but my chemical engineering background told me to try it out.

I like your engineering creativity.  I am a chemical engineer also.  My guess is that it takes some amount of time for the humidity in the air above a saturated salt brine mixture to reach equilibrium.  Obviously, this can only happen in a closed container with a acceptable balance between the volume of air and surface area (and depth for the long term) of the brine.  This balance and the geometry of the container creates some kind of rate to regain equilibrium in the case of an "upset".  Most cheese wheels tend to dry in any situation where the RH is less than 100%.  Here again the surface area of the cheese and moisture content (and mass for the long term) play a role.  The driving force for drying is difference between the equilibrium RH for the salt solution and the humidity in the boundary layer of the cheese surface.  I doubt that most cheeses give up moisture fast enough to overwhelm the capacity of the saturated salt solution to absorb the moisture.  But, I don't know this for a fact.

Your design calls for the regulated intake of air.  If the RH (and volume of air) is significantly different from the equilibrium RH you might not be able to reach equilibrium with the salt solution.  Perhaps a closed container with a small fan would produce better results.  I have a battery powered fan that I use to slowly circulate air in the refrigerator of my RV (motor home).  That just might do it as the important thing is to remove the boundary layer of higher humidity air surrounding the cheese and get it above the brine solution to "de-water".


Offline wattlebloke

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2016, 05:04:43 AM »

OK, so I'm back from a travelling holiday now and keen to get back into the RH game :) Some good ideas/discussion coming along here (and probably in the wrong section :))

How about using a small aquarium bubbler to circulate the air from the cave into the RH sink?

Offline Kern

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Re: Sticheltonesque (Stilton in disguise) cheese making
« Reply #43 on: March 18, 2016, 07:35:01 PM »
I think you're at the stage of engineering where you have to put the slide rule down and pick up a hammer and tongs and see if your idea works.   ;)