Author Topic: Some tips for the beginer  (Read 641 times)

Offline qdog1955

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Some tips for the beginer
« on: December 25, 2014, 05:20:07 AM »
                  A Few Pointers for the ROOKIE Cheese-maker
    Experience is the teacher, but it’s a heck of a way to learn
  When I first got the cheese bug----it was full steam ahead—damn the torpedoes and all that stuff. After all, how hard can it be? People have been making cheese for thousands of years, right? Before too long I discovered making an edible cheese wasn’t all that hard---making a palatable cheese was much more difficult.
  The Cheese Forum has over 3000 members, but how many are still active? Where did they all go? I suspect that quite a few got the cheese bug, but gave up after some disappointing results. That’s a shame, because good results can be had. The following is a list of some of my mistakes as a rookie and some recommendations. I know that some of the regulars won’t agree----we all have our own opinions and our own stories----these are some of mine, based on my rookie experiences.
1.   Have reasonable expectations, remember, those people making cheese for thousands of years, had all those years of experience being handed down through the generations. Nothing beats hands on experience. You might want to try a cheese making class to get a feel of what’s involved.
2.   Every cheese looks good to me! So I wanted to make them all---my advice----avoid that urge----you have to learn to crawl before you walk. When I first started, I couldn’t tell the difference between a squeaky curd and a mouse.
3.   When I first started, I posted this question on the forum “Is it best to start out making one type of cheese or various types”? And of course I got different opinions. Now with some experience under my belt, I would have to say---stick to one type until you have all the basics down pat-----preferably a short aging cheese----so you can check the results without waiting for what will seem like forever. The more difficult makes will be easier with the basics down pat.
4.   If you have very little patience----or available time----cheese making may not be for you-----I could never have done this in my younger days.
5.   Everything you read in all those cheese making books and web sites is not written as a stone-hard  gospel. There are lots of mistakes, misprints and right out fallacy. Sometimes it’s just the fact, that there are different ways to get the same result.  That part was really frustrating to me, an avid reader. The forum can help clarify some of this info. All info is best viewed with a cat’s eye.
6.   GOOD NOTES!---When I first started, my notes were a joke---“Oh I’ll remember how I did this”--- sure you will. Thirty days from now, a year from now? I doubt that. Those notes will help you correct mistakes and almost as important will help you reproduce that really fantastic cheese you made. There are make sheets available and spread sheets. Observe what others are doing with make notes on The Forum.
7.   Type of milk-----I can’t stress enough how much difference there is between raw milk, cream line, and P&H milk. Unfortunately P&H is the most readily available and affordable for most of us. A lot of the problems I ran into as a rookie disappeared when I made the same cheese with raw or cream line. You may find that P&H is suitable for only certain types of cheese.
8.   PH meter----I have found that once I broke down and invested in a PH meter ---- my cheese vastly improved----I had way too many bitter cheeses. I am sure that someone with lots of experience probably doesn’t need one, but it’s been a godsend to me.
9.   Unless you have a very reasonably priced source of milk and equipment--- YOU WILL NOT SAVE MONEY making your own cheese. Just the time and energy invested can be huge. Make sure you have the time, and really want to learn a skill that can be very rewarding.
Finally, I apologize for getting long winded, this is certainly only part of the issues I have run into, but I hope it will help the rookie or someone just anticipating making cheese----It really is addictive!
If I somehow offended anyone---my apologies---that certainly wasn’t my intention, and I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying cheese making.
Qdog
 
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Online Sweet Leaves Farm

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2014, 07:50:49 AM »
This is a great list! The only thing I might add would be: If you don't love to clean, or can't learn to love to clean, cheesemaking is not for you.  I spend just as many hours cleaning equipment, wiping down everything, sanitizing and worrying about how clean it is, as I do stirring curds.

This was my first year making cheese for other people, and it made me absolutely neurotic about cleanliness. My poor husband can't even walk through the kitchen without me snapping " don't touch anything!" This is why I'm moving the cheesemaking out to the garage, where I can make a little "clean room" and keep everything out.

Thanks for the list Qdog!
Jennifer Davenport

Offline Stinky

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2014, 11:00:51 AM »
Expect mold. Lots of it.
It's probably a pathogen.

Offline Danbo

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2014, 03:50:18 PM »
Hi Qdog,

Great advice...


Thanks!

:-) Danbo

Online Shane

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2014, 06:54:08 PM »
Thanks Qdog. There is a lot of good information there for me. I'm interested in the pH aspect. I do have a meter, but I'm assuming you use strips post draining?? Where do you find recipes which provide pH targets for the various stages of the make?

Thanks.

Shane

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2014, 07:15:09 AM »
Jennifer------you are absolutely right----the cleaning and sterilizing should probably be at the top of the list----and a very large sink is helpful, too
.
Shane --- part of the frustration is finding those targets in print----Most have come from recipes on the Forum-----I'm probably not the guy to ask, as I'm still learning. I don't use strips----my initial goal was to get at least in the target range----even following a recipe exactly, I am always surprised how far off the acid levels can be. I guess what I'm saying, is I wanted to eliminate as much guess work and estimating as possible through out the make, and so far the meter has helped. I am also finding that a lot of the targets on various cheese types are very similar.

Qdog
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Offline Spoons

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2014, 02:46:39 AM »
Nice list qdog! I'd add one to that list: When you first start out, friends and family might not be exactly looking forward to tasting a cheese you made. I personally almost gave up because of this. Now, I can hardly keep up with demand! So hang in there, your biggest sceptics will become your biggest cheese eaters.

Online Shane

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2014, 01:10:29 AM »
Thanks Qdog. I have attempted another colby today and have been monitoring pH. I think that will take a little while to sink in. I have a lot more reading and learning to do. I've found a recipe with pH targets which I haven't quite met, but the recipe was incomplete, so it is really a merger of three recipes. Will be interesting to see how it turns out. It looks okay at the moment.

Shane

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2014, 05:43:30 AM »
Shane----Colby has been my nemesis----either I get the right flavor and wrong texture-----or right texture and bitter---I'll give it another try down the road-----hope your Colby goes well---let us know.
  I often combine recipes and I'm sure others on the site do too----that's where those notes come in handy.
Qdog
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2014, 10:33:45 AM »
I'm one who used to be very active on the forum and not so much anymore.  Mostly because I'm only making cheese a couple of months of the year, mainly sticking to the cheeses that we eat the most, so not a lot of forays into the unknown.  Also because there are enough members here now that can give knowledgeable answers, so why speak just to hear my own voice?  No need for me to repeat when others are giving good advice.

As for the pH meter...we all have our own styles and preferences.  I don't own one and have no desire to.  I'm rather old school, don't use the floc method either, and have some pretty darn good cheeses under my belt. 

Otherwise, good advice.

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2014, 11:48:30 AM »
MrsKK------the reasons you give are exactly why we need your skills and expertise----we, the inexperienced,  need your voice on this site---I for one know when I see postings by you---I can take it to the bank---I have bookmarks on just about every post you have made and all your posted recipes are in my cheese making book----so PLEASE keep speaking--I like hearing your virtual voice :) and I'm willing to bet, that lot's of others do, too.
Qdog
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Offline awakephd

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2014, 10:00:22 PM »
+1
-- Andy

Offline bill shaver

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Re: Some tips for the beginer
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2015, 08:50:06 AM »
Not to mention starting with milk that has a low somatic cell count & bacteria plate test...knowing where you milk comes from and what  the farm feeds, if silage fed to cows, somtimes the ever problamatic Lysteria creeps in, no ones fault, just what happens with silages, mainly in sumer.