Author Topic: Why am I having such a problem getting my cheddars to properly knit?!?!?!?!  (Read 1187 times)

Offline Suzyhomemaker

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I keep trying to do cheddars....while even the failures taste great fresh...my issue always comes at the post cheddaring phase somewhere in the pressing as after cutting and tossing with salt...squishing it all into the press.
I seem to always end up with a finished product that breaks into curds with little or no real pressure.
I was working with cows milk at first and now am using goats...different techniques in the recipes but my failure seems to always be during the pressing stage...
1 hour at medium pressure and pretty much overnight at high (after flipping of course )
Is there a secret that I'm missing?


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Offline linuxboy

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1 hour at medium pressure and pretty much overnight at high (after flipping of course )
What does this mean? To me, medium for cheddars means 20 PSI and high means 50 PSI.

What is your temp of curd and room at pressing?
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Offline Suzyhomemaker

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Ok..well that is definitely helpful
The recipe from the 200 cheeses book only says medium and high pressure with no indication of what psi it should be...looking at my press instructions I've been using about 15 for the medium and 40 got the high...guess the answers is a bit more weight.
I've been cheddaring at 102....but the removing form the pot and cutting/salting looses heat...last time i tried putting the cut salted curd back in the pot for a bit to bring the temperature up more before placing in the press.
Our household thermostat is usually set around 72-73 so not too cold..I keep the press in my kitchen so it tends to be a bit warmer in there...cooking heat and there is a Southern facing sliding patio door that adds warmth too.

Offline Al Lewis

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I press with 25 pounds (warm curd) and then at 450 pounds overnight.  8" mold.  Works good. ;D

Offline BobE102330

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Definitions of pressing pressures are in 200 easy's equipment section under press. Heavy pressure is 20-45 psi plus.

I've had success at 150 pounds on a 7.75" mold, barely 3 psi. Another factor in knitting is acidity. If the curd is not acidified enough the curds won't knit.


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Offline smilingcalico

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It does sound quite light.  With the press I had at the time, I could only go up to 225 lbs. safely.  I could do two 8 inch molds, and let them press for about 48 hours.  Here's where I want you to know that pressing is not an exact science.  You are clearly finding that there is no 1 answer.  You are however now better equipped with a few more approximates.  Dutch style presses are great for cheddars.  If you build them out of better wood or materials than I had at the time, you could get even more pressure out of them.  They are pretty great for home cheesemakers.
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Offline Suzyhomemaker

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Ugh....ok my press sucks for cheddars then ....
I'm guessing I have a press similar to BobE102330 as my instructions translate to 4.3 psi at 150 lbs of pressing weight.

So...any advice for an affordable home type press that will work with enough pressure for cheddars?
I saw someone else mention lack of acidity causing issues in knitting as well....what should my target ph be for pressing?

Offline Al Lewis

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Buy the Sturdy Press.  It's very affordable and what I use to get those weights.

Offline linuxboy

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I saw someone else mention lack of acidity causing issues in knitting as well....what should my target ph be for pressing?
This makes no sense to me, as knitting due to calcium balance and degradation (due to acid action, pH) is just one factor. Fat, casein shell and temp also have a lot to do with the fuse-ability. Generally, a higher pH (less acid developed) actually knits better. Also in a milled cheddar, you don't really have a pH for press. You have a pH for milling and salting, which should be 5.3-5.5, depending on style, type of culture used, and workflow (meaning time to process curd based on batch size)
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Offline BobE102330

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My meterless method is give a bunch of curd a light squeeze before draining - they should hold together pretty well.  When you finish cheddaring the slabs should feel like cooked chicken breast.  My cheddars tend to get a bit over acidified, so perhaps the chicken breast should be on the rare side.   ;)

My press has a 3:1 arm, I am planning to rebuild it to have a greater advantage and more resistance to racking.  Something like the sturdy press is a good recommendation.  Either clamp it to the table/counter and use a long arm or add some pulleys to get your force up.  Be sure to build a foot on your presser to spread the force around the mold or you'll end up with a divot on the top of the cheese as the mold lid flexes.  Realistically in a home environment you are unlikely to get 20 psi on an 8" mold.  That requires 1,000 pounds of force (20 psi x 50 sq. inches).  For that you are pneumatic or a press that makes the Sturdy Press seem like a lightweight.  We'll just have to accept some mechanical openings as part of the artisanal glory of our cheeses.

Thanks for setting me straight LB.


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Offline linuxboy

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Well, the pH may be a sort of co-factor in some cases. But usually not the root cause. Sort of like a red herring, in that we might say, oh the pH is too low, that's why the knit is poor. But what we really mean is that the temp is too low, causing slow pH drop, and with the temp being too low, the knit is poor.

What happens at a physical level during fusing is that all curds have a thin (or in poor makes, thick) membrane that has dehydrated. There's a sort of gradient. When there's contact, the curds begin to bond together through calcium phosphate bonds. These bonds form better when there's at least some moisture left (small shell), and when there's not excess fat, and when the temp is conducive to creating the bonds (75F+). The outer edges press together and fuse, hopefully incorporating minimal gradients through the cheese mass.

If you look at a solid slice of cheddar in a microscope, you can see all the curd fusion points. They look a bit like cells. Clear fusion lines of low moisture "skin" all stuck together through calcium phosphate bonds.
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Offline lead_dog

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I press with a car jack until the metal door bends and the building starts creaking. But, believe me, the curds knit!

:-)

Offline Suzyhomemaker

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Lol Lead_Dog....


Offline Boofer

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I press with a car jack until the metal door bends and the building starts creaking. But, believe me, the curds knit!

:-)
ROFLMAO. :D

I just read the text...and then scrolled down to the pic. OMG! He's really using a car jack! I think that's another first for the forum.

So that's the Lab Jack, huh? Why isn't it painted white (like your professional outfit)?

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Offline lead_dog

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Yep...I press up to five truckles, 25 pounds in each, with a car jack in a metal door frame. I know, I know, you might be a redneck if...