Author Topic: Rectangular Vat, Poly Vat----Griddle----Opinon  (Read 689 times)

Offline qdog1955

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Rectangular Vat, Poly Vat----Griddle----Opinon
« on: December 30, 2015, 07:07:24 AM »
  My Father used to say “keep it simple” I wish over the years I had paid a little more attention to that statement, especially in my cheese making endeavors.
   Part of the problem, of course, is just the simple fact----as a rookie, you just don’t know what equipment will work best for you. In my case, I have spent hundreds of dollars on Items that seemed a good idea at the time and now just sit on the shelf and collect dust.
   Now I could write a whole book on all the gizmos and gadgets I have made and bought, that turned out to be nothing but a big headache ------no need to worry---- I am only going to give my personal views on using rectangular pans, including a clear poly pan with a built in drain. I will also cover my thoughts on the “griddle method” of heating these pans. I will include some photos at the end.
  When I first started making cheese, I used round vats----ranging from 4 gallons to ten gallons. I used every heating method ----double boilers-- to direct heat. Tried gas stove, hot plates and induction cookers. Probably had more success just using really hot water in the sink. When I saw fellow forum members using the rectangular pans and the griddle, I saw some real advantages and some down side, too. Such as the large investment I already had in round equipment and a limit on size. Having finally decided to “bite the bullet”. I contacted John at and purchased the griddle, controller and a full size poly pan with a drain---also a clear poly lid. I already had some Stainless steam pans in various sizes and later John sent a large S.S. pan that would accommodate even the full size Steam pan.
  I have now made 10 cheeses with different variations of this setup-----including 5 cheddar's. I have been using a perforated steam pan for my cheddar's that has greatly simplified the whole cheddaring  process . I had one near failure when the temperature controller readout froze, but the temp kept rising----When I finally saw what was happening , my two hours of cheddaring  became 15 minutes----apparently the higher temp made the PH drop much quicker-----fortunately the cheese turned out to be pretty good anyway.
   In my opinion. I prefer the rectangular pans and griddle method to the others I have tried----but there are some caveats. If you use the poly pan, the silicone pad on the griddle needs to be thicker. You still need a thermometer in the “soup” in case of digital controller failure, and if you want to make more then 5 or 6 gallons----you’ll need to get the round vats out.
   I have had no trouble reaching or maintaining proper temps. but there is a learning curve on where to properly set the devices for the best results.
   The built in drain on the polly pan is the most useful gadget I have come across, period----it simplifies the whole process, I am considering adding drain valves to most of my vats.
  Curd cutting is so much easier in the rectangle mode-----but the next curd cutter I make will have one side that conforms to the sides of these pans, as the sides are slightly angled in, towards the bottom.
  I hope this helps some people that may be undecided on what equipment to start out with----I kind of wish I had started out “square”,  but remember other forum members may have completely  different opinions.
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Offline Kern

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Re: Rectangular Vat, Poly Vat----Griddle----Opinon
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2015, 02:57:09 PM »
Yo qdog!  Great post and pictures.  Worth a cheese for your efforts.  ;D

I also use the rectangular pans on the griddle up to six gallon batches (full size 8" deep steam table pan).  My controllers come from Perfect Cheese, also.  My pans are stainless steel and I use an aluminum plate between the pan bottom and griddle.  As the griddle is slightly bowed to allow for grease draining I use folded aluminum foil as shims to keep contact between the rigid plate and griddle surface.  This really improves heat transfer from the griddle to the vat. 

I've done lots for heating tests using water and found that I can heat six gallons of water at a rate of 3F every 4 minutes with the griddle set at 300F with no hot spots on the vat bottom.  Using the griddle alone to heat 38F milk to 85F takes about an hour.  I've started to warm the gallon milk jugs in the sink in hot tap water and pour it into the vat at about 75-80F after sitting for 15 minutes in the sink.  This saves about 30 minutes and has the added benefit of washing any dirt off the jugs of milk.

Six gallons is about the largest SS steam table pan.  Polycarbonate food storage pans are available in larger sizes and some of these will fit on the griddle.  The problem is that the 1500 watt griddle gets increasingly slower as the amount of water is increased.  So, if I decide to make a really large cheese I will likely go to a round stock pot and heat it on a gas stove.