Author Topic: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention  (Read 1406 times)

Offline mnml

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Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« on: January 11, 2014, 10:32:16 PM »
I must say, I came to this forum specifically for this topic, and I hope to be a part of many more!

We age our hard and semi-hard cheeses in a ventilated (cloth vents), windowless room that consistently remains between 49-52 (cold months) and 50-54 (warm months). If I remember correctly, the direction of the airflow within the cloth vent flows across the ceiling, from the wash-rind end of the room to the natural-rind, and exits through a steel vent with a drip-pan under it's fan (for humidity?). I suspect that the atmospheric humidity is, to an effect, less humid during cold seasons, as opposed to warm ones; however, I currently am not working with any other measurements other than temperature, pH, and weight.

Our wash for the natural-rind cheeses is about .65-.85 (lb.) per 1 gallon water, which is also added to a second container and supplemented with B. linens for our current wash-rind variety. We use standard, small-medium kitchen rags, and none of our cheeses are cloth-bound, waxed, or sealed while in this room. We wash on a daily to semi-daily basis, and certainly make sure it is a daily wash when developing that fast mold.

When I began working early last Spring, I remember that the presence of blue mold on the rind of our natural-rind cheeses would form in between our daily washing routine, and would be more prevalent on more wheels as we began entering Summer. As the Summer progressed, I somehow slowed down and temporarily terminated the blue all together, with occasional, isolated formations on one or two single wheels. It continued that way through Fall. We seemed to have hit a spike in growth, recently, but I suppose the broad weather changes through cold months have made somewhat of an impact. Moving from cold to warm surely brings in more moisture. Also, we make more of that cheese in the cold months, so perhaps the output of humidity from the increased amount of cheese entering the room should be considered? Now, the blue forms slightly on our washed-rind variety as well, and this is unacceptable.

We also use mold inhibitor (Natamycin) spray separately to washing, only on the natural-rind varieties.


Here is what I want:
  • Reduction, if impossible to eliminate, in blue formation frequency and amount on natural-rind cheeses, while preserving/allowing safe, diverse, slow-growing residual molds to "stain" (ideally not crust) the wheel
  • Elimination of blue formation on washed-rind cheeses
  • Minimal to no use of mold inhibitors
  • Method of measuring and controlling atmospheric humidity

I read from another source that a wash for a similar style of hard, natural-rind cheese should be around 6% salt per 1 gallon water (~8.43 lb.), which means that is ~5 lb. of salt in the solution. Other results that do not simply state using a saturated solution are nonexistent.

Will adjusting the salt amount higher help control/eliminate blue formation? And to what percentage can I allow these effects without disrupting other, let's call them: character-building molds, from slowly/gradually propagating on the wheels over several months?

Is it possible to keep the cheese from growing anything, including character-building molds, by using a saturated (100%) salt solution?

Are either of the previous questions possible without mold inhibitor, or would I need to use higher dosage of Natamycin, or maybe another type of mold inhibitor?

What is an ideal humidity level/percentage to maintain for these styles of cheeses, and is it possible to achieve my wants through this method?
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Offline JimSteel

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 12:28:44 PM »
I'm pretty amateur, so I won't be of much help.

Will adjusting the salt amount higher help control/eliminate blue formation? And to what percentage can I allow these effects without disrupting other, let's call them: character-building molds, from slowly/gradually propagating on the wheels over several months?

The go to solution on the forums seems to be "vinegar, saturated with salt."  Brush off the mold, was the rinds with the solution, dry off.

I think you'd need to know what mold you are dealing with, before being able to determine complex interactions like that.  If this is becoming a serious problem, find an expert who can identify what you have. 

Is it possible to keep the cheese from growing anything, including character-building molds, by using a saturated (100%) salt solution?

In a realistic environment, not to my knowledge, especially one with lots of and different types of cheeses.  High saturation may compromise the taste/quality/rind of your cheese.

Are either of the previous questions possible without mold inhibitor, or would I need to use higher dosage of Natamycin, or maybe another type of mold inhibitor?

I have never used Natamycin substances and don't know much about it.   Even with a mold inhibitor, wouldn't your naturals be open to an onslaught from B.Linens that's floating around the room?

What is an ideal humidity level/percentage to maintain for these styles of cheeses, and is it possible to achieve my wants through this method?

Variable humidity sounds like your problem.  Natural rinds are not my forte, some of the other forum users are very experienced with this sort of stuff though.  Molds flourish in humidities above 90% don't they? 

Surprised Linuxboy hasn't chimed in yet, he's quite knowledgeable.  I'd try the "full clean" with salt and vinegar on your naturals to start.

Hope I was of some help.

Offline mnml

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 07:19:57 PM »
Vinegar wont compromise any flavor qualities or anything? What concentration would be good?

I'll have to run this by my bosses. Some B. linens get on these cheeses but not enough to drive out any other character builders.
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Offline JimSteel

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 09:44:01 AM »
You can do a forum search to find out the exact measurements people have used.  There's lots of threads mentioning it. 

Not too sure about affecting the quality/flavour.  The vinegar treatment isn't supposed to be a regular thing.  Just when molds are getting out of hand or before your rinds set.  Most people here are home cheesemakers from what I can tell though, so extremely specific quality controls aren't a major concern to us.

Might be something to experiment with one wheel.  See how clean you can keep it

Sorry that I cant' give you any definitive answers.

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 08:58:32 PM »
First,
what is your humidity? If it is above 90, especially 95%, you will have runaway molds. I can't speak for natual rinds, but for washed rinds we don't want this. Our target is 85% -80 to 90% is the acceptable range.

How CLEAN is your cave? It sounds to me like maybe you have a yeast infection on your walls or floors or somewhere. That runaway blue mold usually isn't mold at all, it's yeast. If it smells musty or dirty, that's what you have.
I wash down my walls and floor with lime. It's not friendly to mold and yeast, so it helps to keep things in check. If you have concrete walls, you might consider doing this.

For our washed rinds, we use wine. It does not take very much alcohol to keep mold at bay, just say maybe 1/3 to 1/2 wine to water, then salt it. I don't really know how to tell you how much salt, we just go until it seems salty enough. Also, our cheeses are fairly low in salt content anyway.

Wine and vinegar WILL flavor the rind. We want this with ours.

I like to use red wine now, which makes a deep purple rind. It really looks impressive and when cut you have a sharp black line on the edge, it looks nice and impresses people but  is not hard to do.

The closest thing we see to a natural rind is sometime a cheese will be left to itself after the initial washing. The washing grows a lot of bacteria that we want -I used to think it was BL but Linuxboy did some tests and told me it's a lot more complex than that. But these bacteria make it inhospitable to most molds, and the ones that grow are usually good.

I don't like to do this though, because we get mites bad. They love hard cheese. I tried it and my cheeses developed some mold and geo, but then got overrun by mites. It wasn't good. So I just stick to what I learned, the washed rind.

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Offline JimSteel

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 09:38:56 AM »
Alp, is it the alcohol content in the wine that keeps the microbes down or a combination of alcohol and other wine components?

I'm just wondering if it's possible to put some "pure ethanol" or unflavoured vodka in the wash.  The idea would be that the alchohol would completely evaporate after doing it's job and not impart a flavour on the cheese.

What do you think?

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 02:08:36 PM »
time is short, but I'll answer what I can.
however, I currently am not working with any other measurements other than temperature, pH, and weight.
Get a psychrometer. The old kind, double bulb. Cheap, works well.
Quote
Our wash for the natural-rind cheeses is about .65-.85 (lb.) per 1 gallon water, which is also added to a second container and supplemented with B. linens for our current wash-rind variety.
What's your rind prep deacidifier? Ambient? Should be a yeast like geo or candida.

Quote
Now, the blue forms slightly on our washed-rind variety as well, and this is unacceptable.
How badly? Yeast will inhibit the blue if you use yeast. Your morge wash or ambient yeasts likely aren't doing enough to keep the blue at bay.

Quote
We also use mold inhibitor (Natamycin) spray separately to washing, only on the natural-rind varieties.
And you still get blue? What ppm?
Quote
Here is what I want:
  • Reduction, if impossible to eliminate, in blue formation frequency and amount on natural-rind cheeses, while
Use yeast and build up the base rind with the yeast consortium.
Quote
preserving/allowing safe, diverse, slow-growing residual molds to "stain" (ideally not crust) the wheel[/li][/list]
Ambient or inoculated molds? Which ones? And do you know what blue species you have? expansum? what does it smell/taste like?
Quote
  • Elimination of blue formation on washed-rind cheeses
Yeast them.
Quote
  • Minimal to no use of mold inhibitors
For the washed rinds? You may need to do a better job with the air handling and separations. How is the blue getting in and how is it transferred?
Quote
  • Method of measuring and controlling atmospheric humidity
Get a psychrometer.
Quote
I read from another source that a wash for a similar style of hard, natural-rind cheese should be around 6% salt per 1 gallon water (~8.43 lb.), which means that is ~5 lb. of salt in the solution.
Which cheese? And what source? And when? For maintenance after building up the rind?
Quote
That high of a wash Other results that do not simply state using a saturated solution are nonexistent.

Will adjusting the salt amount higher help control/eliminate blue formation?
A little. Mechanical action does help, so does the salt. But most blues will still grow at 6%. What's the surface aW of the hard cheese?
Quote
And to what percentage can I allow these effects without disrupting other, let's call them: character-building molds, from slowly/gradually propagating on the wheels over several months?[/b][/size]
Which molds? And when in the cascade? There's a sequence of 3-4 cascades for many hard cheese ripenings. Going from yeasting to mold to secondary molding.
Quote
Is it possible to keep the cheese from growing anything, including character-building molds, by using a saturated (100%) salt solution?
By itself? No. If you cut the surface aW down, manage the humidity and temp and air circ, it might work. You basically have to dry out the rind like crazy, which affects rate of moisture loss. Closest commercial example of this style of rind management is parmigiano reggiano.
Quote
Are either of the previous questions possible without mold inhibitor, or would I need to use higher dosage of Natamycin, or maybe another type of mold inhibitor?
Usually natamycin is easiest. How much are you using?
Quote
What is an ideal humidity level/percentage to maintain for these styles of cheeses, and is it possible to achieve my wants through this method?

When? washed soft curd stinkies need high humidity, 95-95%. Hard styles can get away with 85%, but do better around 90-92%.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 03:57:48 PM »
I doubt you'll really notice the flavor of alcohol/wine. If you use white whine, you won't notice anything. You have to use a lot of wine and wash it a lot before it gets any kind of fruity taste, and even then the wine will have had to have been pretty fruity to begin with.

But that said, vodka or other pure alcohol will work fine. The alcohol is what we want. Wine is just traditional for us so we use it. Avoid sugary anything.

Check out your blue mold to see if it is blue mold or yeast. Smell it, if it's musty you have yeast (like a bread type yeast). I think LB's info is targeted to if you have a true blue mold growing, like Penicillin. If you have genuine penicillin growing I would let it be on the natural rinds but then you would have to isolate them from the washed rinds or you'll hate your life. Yeasty molds always make me sneeze, so it's easy for me to tell when I have them. (mites make me sneeze too)

If you want to go 'high tech', you can use the wash and preps and all like LB suggests, it will work good. If you don't, you can try prepping everything with alcohol. What I would do is develop an alcohol wash for both cheeses are re-use it, only adding as is necessary. Keep the two separate. By washing the cheeses with the same wash all the time, you will develop a complex and good mix of bacteria and yeast that will prep your rind. The difference is, you stop washing the natural rinds after the prep-rind has developed. I don't know when this would be exactly, but I would guess 10 days. We wash ours for 10 days, then cut them down to twice a week for a few months, then they can sit, only needing washing if mites decide to move in in large numbers. After 10 days we have a healthy rind that will USUALLY keep fuzzy molds from going wild. What we get after this is white molds, which are fine and don't grow fast.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 04:34:58 PM »
My main rec here is to check the yeasting stage to ensure proper rind formation right away regardless of cheese. It's your equivalent of establishing the schmier. Yeasts are antagonistic toward blue mold. Yeasts + bacteria like strep and micrococci make for a barrier that most blues will have a LOT of trouble with. But, a weak schmier with poor yeasting tends to result in all kinds of growth. If that doesn't work, then go to other controls... investigate sanitation up and downstream. Identify contamination sources. Audit temp/humidity controls. And if even after all that you can't get the blue under control, go to mechanical removal. And if that fails, chemical.
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2014, 07:04:49 AM »
Great thread!!!!  Paav, what yeasts are you suggesting for rind protection? 


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 08:29:23 AM »
If you're buying, Candida and Kluyveromyces.
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2014, 05:44:16 PM »
Kluyveromyces.
KL71. Something I don't use so much.

KL71 is a yeast, yes.  It's what's giving you a fruity smell.  It's used a pre-curser (de-acidifier) for moulds and yeasts (like Mycoderm and Mycodore).

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Offline mnml

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 06:14:30 PM »
We don't use yeast or a deacidifier for our natural-rinds. Our washed-rinds use b. linens.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2014, 07:18:45 PM »
Fix that by using yeast and it should mitigate or solve your blueing problem.
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Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Natural-rind, hard cheese blue prevention
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2014, 08:39:03 PM »
Fix that by using yeast and it should mitigate or solve your blueing problem.

How is bought, stand-alone DH (as opposed to PLA) for this purpose, Pav?
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