Author Topic: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.  (Read 740 times)

Offline JimSteel

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Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« on: November 17, 2013, 11:34:49 AM »
I have 6 cheeses in my cave right now, all vac bagged.  Cantal, Colby, Gouda, Cheddar, Cheshire (all 1lb), Gouda (4lb). 

Cheddar, Cheshire, and Cantal are all over 6 months old, I made them when I was starting out to "try different things"
Colby and Goudas are running about 2 months.

I figured I'd check on my cheeses, see if they were ready or needed airing out or whatever.  I'd basically written off my cheddar types 2 months ago due to the ammonia smell they had, just keeping them for experimental reasons.  Everything I have made and vac bagged either smells like strong ammonia or eerily sour.  Small amounts of whey have pooled in every bag.  I guess I hadn't dried them long enough.

I feel like I should just cash in and stick to feta.  This is brutal.  It's like the more cheese I make, the worse I get at the process...

Is there any coming back from these screw ups?  Sourness can't go, but will the ammonia smell fade over time?


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 12:13:47 PM »
sounds like it's your milk. What are you using? I can't tell you how many times I have done everything perfectly to have crap cheese using poor quality milk, and how many times I felt like I messed it all up beyond redemption only to have excellent quality end results.
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Online Spoons

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 12:28:20 PM »
Jim,

Being both from Ontario, here's a good milk source I've been using. The cost comes to about $10.50 per pound of cheese but at least it's unhomogenized milk (on 10-12% cheese yields).

I mix two milk sources:
Neilson 0% skim (available at every Loblaws) about $4.00 per 4L
Harmony 35% heavy cream (unhomogenized and low pasteurized) about $6.50 per 500ml

So it comes to about $4.00 more per pound than regular whole milk, but it's a great source for cheese making.

Check out Harmony's website on where you can get some:
http://www.harmonyorganic.on.ca/
The shelf life is 19 days on all their products except buttermilk. So it should give you an idea how fresh the milk or cream is.
- Eric

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 12:37:30 PM »
I did a few when I first started that I waxed and had the same problem.  Turned out I hadn't let them dry enough before waxing.  I also believe that the vacuum bagging may draw any liquid out of the cheese over time which is why I wax.  At any rate, don't give up.  Like me, I'm sure you'll hit on a few successes of different cheeses and then continue to make those.  I have about 6 I can do reasonably well so far and stay away from some that didn't go well or folks just didn't like.  I loved my Epoisses but had to eat it myself as no one else could stand the smell. LOL

Offline JimSteel

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 12:56:05 PM »
Spoons: I've started using cream and skim when I can.  Usually if cream is on sale(I'm pretty cheap).  I'll look into this Harmony stuff though.

Linux: I know my milk isn't of ideal quality, but I think my problem lies in the vac bagging.  The cheeses I waxed before I got my vac sealer turned out well if I didn't leave them to age too long.  I thought milk quality mostly affected texture and curd formation etc. rather than flavour and affinage.  Am I to believe that 'quality' milk has much more holistic properties on the entire process? (Raw milk is out of the question here)

Al: Vaccing definitely draws the whey out, I know this empirically now.  Some of these cheeses seemed pretty darn dry on the rind before I packed them up.  I do appreciate the words of support though.  If my Port Salut that I am making turns out, I think I'll mostly be sticking to washed rinds.  It seems to be going extremely well... but we'll see when the time comes.


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Offline jwalker

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 02:44:26 PM »
Jim , I'm fairly new at this as well , maybe a year or less , I've been using whatever milk I can get , and the quality isn't great , the curds break up very easily into very small bits , and take a long time to coagulate.

However ,  pretty much all my cheeses have been very edible and some even downright delicious , that said , I have been waxing and or PVA coating , the PVA seems to breathe just right for the time I age my cheeses (2-6 months) , and for the extra aged ones , I coat with wax as well.

I never vacuum bag , unless it is one that has already been aged and opened to try , but deemed needed more aging , then I vacuum seal the remaining pieces for more time in the cave..

I don't like the idea of vacuum bagging to age myself , and others seem to swear by it , maybe try coating and/or waxing for a change , and see what happens.

I think even wax "breathes" to a certain extent , where the plastic bags don't , or at least not as well , but that's just my theory , but the reason I fell this way , is that I routinely get mold between the PVA and the wax (it never gets to the cheese tho ) , so far I have never had any mold in a vacuum bag , so I'm guessing there is not enough air getting in/out.

I swear by the PVA coatings , and add wax for longer aged cheeses.
No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.

Offline JimSteel

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 06:38:28 PM »
jwalker, where do you get your PVA coating from?  I think I'll give this a shot.

I see some "cream coating" on glengarry cheesemaking, which is my go-to Canadian site.  Also, does the coating harden or stay.... creamy?

Offline jwalker

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2013, 08:21:17 AM »
Glengarry has some good prices on the coatings , get it there , I get mine out of the U.S. , only because I live in BC and it's quicker and easier than shipping across Canada.

It goes kind of rubbery , and is very easy to peel off when the cheese is ready to eat.

I usually do three coats if I don't plan on waxing over it.

I use a real soft paintbrush to put it on with , and make sure to wash it after every use very well.

The stuff takes a while to dry between coats , but I found that if you set it in front of a fan , it dries much faster , if you want to do multiple coats in a day.
No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirement.
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2013, 08:26:54 AM »
Also, does the coating harden or stay.... creamy?
Here's an example of what the cream coating does.

You know, Jim, I've run into some frustrating makes and considered hanging up my muslin. I went back to basics and tried to be more precise in what I was doing. Matter-of-fact, I'm still doing that off and on. Yesterday I tasted my 4 month old Beaufort #8 and found that the salt level was too low...so that went into the tweak column.

I find I'm doing some fine-tuning and trying to bring out the nuances of the milk I'm using. With that in mind, your milk quality is at the core of all your makes. If it sucks, chances are great that the resulting cheese will too. I drew a very subjective comparison when making Saint Paulin with raw milk, creamline milk, and finally P&H milk. The cheeses from those first two milks were very nice. Not so much with the third milk. The curd quality was a huge indicator of the direction that the final product would take.

-Boofer-
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 08:39:31 AM by Boofer »
Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.

Offline JimSteel

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 08:38:20 PM »
Thanks Boof, I didn't realize you posted results on your PH make.  Curious to see if it gets any better at 8 weeks and beyond.  Your description rang a few bells from my previous experiences.

Given the resounding opinions of the community, perhaps it is time to contact some of my local farm folk and see if I can enter into a 'grey-market cow-share program'.  I have been hesitant to source the "really good stuff" until I had become more familiar with production techniques (which I still clearly need to do).  In any case, I've left all 6 wheels airing out in one corner of the house or another and they don't smell terrible anymore at least.


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Offline Dairymaid

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 02:22:54 AM »
Haha Jim.  I  have to say your post cheered me up no end.  I have felt so similar on many occasions.  The difference is I have my own cows and I have to keep experimenting.  But each time a cheese goes to the chickens because it tastes too terrible to be put on the table I hang my head in my hands and lament all that wasted time and effort.  And the worst thing has been not knowing what I did wrong.

I have now determined to be more active on this forum, because there are a lot of people here who know stuff that I can learn from.

But thanks for sharing your sense of failure.  Commiserations and Keep trying! 

Offline Boofer

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Re: Complete Disaster... Considering retirment.
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 07:58:58 AM »
And the worst thing has been not knowing what I did wrong.
If you would care to share the details of some of your "failures", perhaps you'd get some different perspectives and suggested solutions. Recipe, make procedure, quality of milk, list of ingredients...etc.

But thanks for sharing your sense of failure.  Commiserations and Keep trying!
Here's to sharing misery. ;)

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Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.