Author Topic: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?  (Read 2847 times)

Offline meyerandray

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2013, 04:38:19 AM »
Thank you alpkaserei, I have been wavering back and forth on whether or not to get this cauldron. I still don't know if i will make enough Alps style cheeses to be able to maintain it well, but i do believe in the organoleptic contributions of copper to the cheese, and now that I know how to care for it, i am considering once again...


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Offline smolt1

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2013, 08:49:18 AM »
Before about 1913 no cheese was made in stainless pots because it wasn't "invented" yet.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2013, 02:21:20 PM »
Quote
If it's left in the vat, it will cause spots of patina.
Every single copper vat I've ever seen in any region has a microlayer of a thin oxide. It forms naturally upon exposure to air, and very quickly. Your process is very similar to the parmigiano makers. The key for them is:

1) Never let milk or whey bits stick to the copper and dry off. They constantly splash whey all over the vat to keep it wet
2) Get rid of all solids/matter (eg whey) as soon as possible and rinse right away
3) use gentle acid washes and a mild scrubber, using vinegar wash or vinegar/salt when necessary

So their maintenance schedule it about the same. A water-based patina (the dark, uneven spots) from not drying or not washing or not keeping clean is undesirable. But raw, dry copper oxidizes almost immediately upon exposure to air, and this helps prevent further leaching. Else, your copper would be ultra, ultra shiny. When you wash, after it dries off and sits for an hour, does your vat dull a little? Just not quite so shiny? That's the patina I meant. Not like verdigris or anything like that.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2013, 03:19:20 PM »
you are right i misunderstood your explanation
i understood you to be saying they left their copper to develop the dull brown color
but with our water based cleaning there is another situation, since our goal is to remove all traces of any acidic substance we rinse thoroughly with water. i purities in the water such as iron, calcium, etc. actually form a thin protective film. our aim is to maintain a copper surface, as bright as we can manage.
but yes, it will dull slightly. but if it becomes brown like a penny, that is considered bad.
as for stainless steel, yes about 1912 a local fellow developped it. Elwood Haynes , whose company still is in business in the nearby city of Kokomo.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2013, 03:47:42 PM »
this is also why we wash with water whenever we use vinegar. vinegar leaves the copper raw and unprotected.
such will patina and dull immediately. so we wash with water which leaves a film on the surface, significantly slowing the patina. this of course is a thin, weak protection that will not last long. but it is sufficient to stave off oxidation for a few days, in our environment.
but thats how i learned. lb has presented the possibility that a little dullness might not be so bad. if it works in Parma, perhaps it could work here also?
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2013, 04:28:31 PM »
It's a really thin, tiny layer. What it does is help to prevent excess copper leaching. Perfectly harmless and desirable. If you were to soak in a concentrated vinegar or other acid, the copper would pit... or would otherwise get worn down to the raw metal. And when it does that, instead of copper oxide, the thin layer has various copper salts that are not as good at maintaining the integrity of the copper. That's what I meant by no harsh treatments with chemicals. Maybe as a one-time reconditioning process going more harsh is fine, but generally, a light acidic scrub and it's good to go.

With harsher chemicals, pitting is also a concern. One of the beautiful aspects of your approach with the 3M pads is that they are ever so slightly abrasive. And if you are really thorough in the cleaning, going in a repeat pattern, in the same direction with the pads, it puts an excellent finish on the copper and has this "sanding" effect. Helps to keep a smooth surface, which prevents biofilm from forming and removes pits and hidey holes that bacteria live in.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2013, 09:32:47 PM »
And if you are really thorough in the cleaning, going in a repeat pattern, in the same direction with the pads...

You mean like washing the entire vat 4 times?  ;)

I was taught to use a circular scrubbing motion, going around in a pattern, and do this over the entire vat with every change of water. Yes, the idea was to polish the copper. (not make it Polish. sorry, bad pun)

I don't know HOW they did it before the 3M pads...
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Offline Spellogue

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2013, 12:48:57 AM »
Very interesting thread.  I would love to have a large copper kettle. I started looking for one for homebrewing years ago, but they're so expensive new and I've yet to find a decent used one here in the Midwest US. 

A marginal anecdotal (hardly scientific) note I might make is my experience with using copper as a mordant for natural dyeing.  A mordant is a metal salt used to chemically bond natural dyestuffs to fiber, e.g. wool.   Alum (aluminum potasium sulfate) is rather common, provides for neutral color effect and is the safest metal mordant used in the sense that its application is relatively non-toxic. Iron (ferrous sulfate) saddens or darkens colors  and Vitrol (copper sulfate) brings out green hues. These two are also common mordants but are certainly not body friendly in large doses. Tin (stannous chloride) makes for bright colors, but is highly toxic.   Chrome (potassium dichromate), produces beautiful rich orangey tones but is rather deadly if even small amounts enter the body.  All these mordants are safe once heat bonded into finished yarn, but utmost care must be taken in the process and with concern to disposal of the byproducts.

The metal salts are usually used in small amounts in crystal form for the most control as mordants, but historically the effects of iron and copper could be had by using cast iron and copper pots in which to simmer the wool.  Certainly even a chip in an enamel pot has leached enough ferrous oxide into a dyebath to have a saddening effect on the fiber I've dyed (not always a bad thing).  Likewise I've added pieces of copper pipe to a dyebath to successfully produce a greening effect to the resulting colors.  Temperatures at or just below boiling are used in natural dying.   Whereas most cheesemaking temperature are nowhere near that high I'm not surprised to read here that at least subtle effects are produced by the use of copper pots in the make. 

I'm curious to know how the taste (or other) differences might be described between cheeses made using copper vs. non-reactive pots.  What about other metals?  I've used only stainless steel and anodized aluminum (Calphalon) and haven't noticed a difference.  I've been tempted to use an old 4 gallon aluminum stock pot we have for a larger make, but I'm concerned that might be unwise.



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Offline Back 2 The Frotture

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2013, 03:05:26 PM »
Thanks for the useful info. So to go out on a limb... if a copper pot is cleaned but not properly dried, forms a patina, and is used the next make, could this alter the whey's color?

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Anyone use a copper cauldron to make their cheese?
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2013, 10:53:17 PM »
Possibly. How cleaned/sanitized before use?
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