Author Topic: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1  (Read 950 times)

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« on: March 19, 2014, 11:48:45 AM »
Well, let me start off by saying I had an entire, lengthy, opening post drafted that I accidentally deleted...!  More later. 

Basically, this chronicles my efforts in crafting an Abondance-style cheese.  Very similar to Beaufort, with some exceptions, most notably the size.  Beaufort wheels typically range from 88-110 lbs., and can span 29.5" across.  Abondance, very close in make, ranges from 11-20 pounds or so, typically.  I have a true alpine "cercle," as seen here designed by Oude Kaas and copied by me; I've got more sourcing for slightly larger hoops as my current hoop will give me a flat, alpine wheel at about 11-12 pounds; the hoops I'm looking into will give the true, concave shape as seen in Beauforts and Abondances. 

One other quick note, very interesting for me to find in more texts, that both Beaufort and Abondance commonly get a brining and dry-salting regimen; they serve different purposes and are both typically employed.  More later. 

Most immediately, though, I'm reading an interesting article looking at Abondance texture, by type of pasture.  It's the only study to follow texture/rheology of three Abondance makes from field to finished affinage, comparing by type of pasture.  HOWEVER, and this I found really interesting - NONE of the makers employed helveticus as added culture.  ST and "ldl," lactobacillus delbrueckii subs. lactis, with two of the three also employing delb. subs. bulgaricus....but no helveticus.  Brings a whole new meaning to "we don't want to make a parm, here...." 

More later here, too.  If you want the article, it's found here.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 12:26:56 PM by ArnaudForestier »
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2014, 11:52:08 AM »
Hey Arnaud,
  I`ve also heard of Beauforts not using Helveticus.  I have always used it and have found a definite parm note in my earlier makes where I used way too much starter.  I spoke with Wilma at Glengarry who said the proteolysic activity of LH is still important and would recommend using it just in small amounts.  I am going for about half as much LH as Strep Therm.  Well we`ll actually see how precise I can get.  The make I will be doing on Friday will have such a small amount of Helveticus 0.0175 of a gram (yeah as if I can measure that!)
  Since you are an authority on Beauforts maybe could you tell me the reason it is scalded to 128F and then even raised again to 135F before wheying off?  I saw one of Sailor`s posts mention this.  Such a high temp would really promote syneresis but is there another reason? Cuz man not even parms scald that high.
Nathan

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2014, 12:31:34 PM »
Hey Bear - first of all, I'm no authority on anything, lol.  Well, maybe cooking French grub.  Beaufort/Abondance just happens to be my area of intense interest, as I love its traditions (much like Alp is a son of his fatherland, so would be myself, for La Vielle France), and the cheese itself...a kind of demon antic at my soul, demanding more and more!  I relied on Sailor for my initial recipe and understanding, and a ton from Linuxboy and Francois as well. 

As to that high a temp, I personally don't go that high.  Part of it is as you called it, I don't want that much syneresis.  Keeping in mind that Beaufort is actually like 88 lbs and above, and I'm maknig Abondance, I'll tend to stay around 124 (for 12 pound wheels), a bit higher for the larger wheels. 

Different sources cite different cooking temperature ranges for Beaufort.  An exhaustive study from Lille indicates 127-132F, while Beaufort AOC calls for 127-129F.

The study I cited didn't have any added LH, but I'm certain it exists in the raw milk.  Looking through a couple science texts (Fox et al's Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology, for example - pg. 125, Table 1), they show helveticus to be absent in gruyere.  I've really taken to Alp's whey culture method - geeked about it, to be honest.  I can't think of a more effective way to be utterly transparent - to convey the flora in the milk alone - than this method.  Interestingly, the same text cited above, for whey culture they indicate helveticus typically dominates - 85%.  Mind you, this refers to grana whey starters.  Point of interest here:

Quote
deproteinized whey starters with rennet (Fettsirtenmagenlab, Présure à la ‘recruite’) which are used for the manufacture of Swiss-type cheeses (Emmental, Sbrinz, Gruyère; see ‘Cheese With Propionic Acid Fermentation’, Volume 2) in small cheese factories in the Alps. Invariably, thermophilic lactobacilli (Lb. helveticus, Lb. delbrueckii subsp. lactis) dominate cultures produced under selective conditions (high temperature) while streptococci (Sc. thermophilus, but also lactococci and enterococci) often dominate cultures incubated at a relatively low temperature (42 °C), which usually show higher microbial diversity (Parente et al., 1997).

-I'm going to rethink my whey isolation and incubation regimen accordingly. Under any circumstance, my bought SLABs sit in their pouches, freezing and sullen!

Something of note, I think - keeping in mind that Beaufort is characterized by avoiding the eye-formation seen in emmental and other alpine cheeses with eyes (a consequence of higher relative salting and lower temperature, and, especially for Beaufort, the higher fat content of the make*, which suppresses eye formation; as a few reasons), it's interesting to read of the apparent symbiotic relationship between helveticus and propionibacteria.  From v. 2 of this series,

Quote
Several investigations have shown that thermophilic lactic acid bacteria, especially Lb. delbrueckii and Lb. helveticus, can stimulate the growth of propionibacteria

(note - I can't recall where, but I once read a substantial amount of stuff saying propionic was not entirely avoided in Beaufort and its cousins - its biochemical and microbiological effects add distinctive characteristics to these cheeses; just that we're avoiding too much, and certainly its production of gas.  It's native to raw milk, anyway, and my guess is, that suffices, given Beaufort/Abondance vat process and affinage.

NOW, to really screw stuff up, this is from Fox, Fundamentals of Cheese Science:

Quote
Beaufort is a French variety similar to but larger than (~ 45 kg) Gruyere, but only Lb. helveticus is used as starter.

And the previously cited Lille study indicates the "permitted" cultures used are thermophilic, "primarily lactobacilli."  Lol.  There goes the notion that it is ST, and not the lactobacilli (esp. helveticus) that predominates. 

As with all of this - which drives my reductionist mind absolutely batty - there's probably no clear answer. For me, probably, the more I read, the more I think I'll shy away from helveticus, unless doing grana styles.  Nevertheless, I'm certain it's in my raw milk.  And, at the end of the day, I think we also have to ask, where's the sensory threshold?  In other words, if L. helveticus and L. bulgaricus share certain sensory traits, at what concentration would their differences manifest, what concentration would trip the sensory threshold?  I think that's probably a more important question to ask. 

You and I share brewing experience - this question is something we asked all the time.  I know when I really started to get into brewing on a commercial level, I geeked out my mash schedule with a lot of steps, to finesse mouthfeel and so forth...beta-glucans, protein, beta- and alpha-amylase, all of that. 

Until I read some literature going into this in depth, showing that for the most part, the molecular weight resulting from most of these steps was so low, that no consumer with a normal palate, could tell a difference.  Back to single-step infusion. 

I surmise it's much the same here.  I suspect that unless we're making big changes - all L. helveticus v. all L. bulgaricus, all S. thermo v. all L. helveticus, in p/h milk - we can't tell the difference. 

Probably the best logic I've seen, comes from Alp: some process (like his, or Linuxboy's) of producing a whey starter, replete with a host of mesophilic and thermophilic - as long as it's a clean starter, I wouldn't think it really matters what mix you have of lactococci, L. helveticus, bulgaricus, lactis, S. thermophilus, etc.  If you consistently make a batch that suits your cheese's character, replicate it each and every time (given the balancing act needed with changing seasons, changing period of lactation, etc.), and draw a whey starter from it - eventually, you'll end up with the right mix anyway, whatever critters and whatever their amounts, exist in your cheese.  That's my plan, anyway.  I'm feeling pretty much done with pure-strain, bought cultures.

*I'm thinking of several breeds.  I've made contact with a genetics guy in Normandes and Tarentaise, both of which have their benefit - Normandes have an almost ideal p/f ratio, while Tarentaise are unique in possessing b-casein variant C, thought to impart the piquancy, forward, "animal" nature of Beaufort, when compared to its gruyere cousins.  However, Beaufort is also higher in fat than the other cheeses, which begs the question - why not Jerseys?  John Putnam of Thistle Hill milks 100% grazed Jerseys - and his "Tarentaise" is one hell of an Abondance, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 02:07:30 PM by ArnaudForestier »
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2014, 10:34:15 AM »
OK, much delayed, but after building out and establishing my cave and alpine-style screw press, an update. 

18 gallons raw Ayrshire milk.
1.2% b.e., twin-temp incubation whey culture
.3% Alp D

Rennet on the basis of 90 ml/1000# milk, Walcoren "Dolce" Rennet paste.  Working to get dried vells in on a regular basis, to make my own rennet. 

Culture in at 90F.  Seeking 1.0-1.5 ΔpH, for rennet addition.  I also titrate, but because I was late getting back from the farm and had a big day ahead (this being my first 20 gallon batch), I bagged titrating TA and went with the convenience (for me) of using my pH meter.  Milk pH = 6.74, and after adding in my culture, it was quite a drop, at 6.53 - so I renneted right away.

Floc was too long - 28 minutes.  Pav reminds me it's autumn milk and his floc is also odd, and he recommended a 10% increase over usual dosing.  Have spent so much time building out and farming with friends, my sieve-like mind has forgotten the specifics of some fundamentals; in this instance, seasonal adjustments based on seasonal variations in milk. 

3X multiplier.

Cut with my "tranche-caillé" over 10 minutes; this, in tandem with my "pelle," my scoop.  Cut went beautifully well, very nice kernels, even. 

Scald 90-122 over 45 minutes.  Because this is a 20 gallon vat heated by direct fire, propane, this is an outdoor job.  And this was the first time I used the Brinkmann.  Heating up is no problem; heating in tiny increments is a bit difficult, on the lowest possible flame, I still was increasing too fast for this initial period (my practice is 1 degree every 2 minutes or so, 90-100; then 1 degree a minute to finish out, which gives me a 42-45 minute scald).  So, it was a game of heating a bit, turning off the burner, heating a bit, to 100F; then as per my normal.  In the future, I'll likely build a dedicated vat stand, brick, possibly.  I will be getting a 60 gal. copper vat this winter. 

Cook at 122, to proper consistency.  For me, that is a point where I can easily form a mass in my palm, it will stand up to doing a kind of "flipper test," (I call it), where the mass can be held near it's back and flipped back and forth, and remain as a pliant, stable and unified mass.  Additionally, that it can easily break apart into grains when rubbing between the hands.  As it turned out, by the end of this scald, the curd was perfect as it was, so no further cooking needed.

With my "baguette," my pliant stainless steel bar, and my cheesecloth (in my teeth, for one), I scooped the curds out en masse.  Not bad for a first effort - only about a cup of curds remaining in the vat, which I added to my yield and took to the press. 

Drain pH, 6.45.

Pressing was a bit difficult for me.  A very noob error, had forgotten just how strongly these alpines can bind in the cheesecloth (back in 2011 or so, when I left cheesemaking till returning this year, I'd typically keep a soup warmer full of acidified whey, and flip often; this, as well as using Pav's excellent "kneading" technique, on my tomme-sized hard alpines), so went with my usual 5-10-20-40-80 min. schedule of flipping.  And I WAY overpressed on this first round.  The result was a bad binding which I couldn't save entirely, so parts of the wheel stripped off.  Recovered, to some extent, in subsequent pressings, but lesson learned, now.  I used to flip ridiculously often, in early pressings.  Ditto here. 

Unlike traditional draining practice I've seen, a 12-24 hour drain, I simply drained to pH 5.3-5.4, target.  A bit overshot at 5.25, but given the good vat hit of 6.45, not concerned too much about this slightly lower terminal pH. 

24 hour cool down.

Brine x 12 hours in saturated brine.  I have a 55 gallon food-grade drum converted to a brine tank.  15 gallons of brine, does great with these 17-20 inch diameter wheels.

Dry 24 hours.

Begin morge.  Beaufort describes a wet brining period, and, following that, a month or so of dry salt rubbings before morge application.  Large wheel, all to prepare the rind for flora establishment and progress.  Abondance, I've basically seen the same thing, except that they tend to do both phases simultaneously.  In other words, after wet-brining, they will dry the wheel off for a day, then begin dry-rubbing salt lightly to one side of the wheel; return later that afternoon to use the brine that's been created to rub old (Abondance...for me, Beaufort) rind tailings on the brine.  I do one side at a time, so in effect the cheese is morged every other day.

That's where it is for now.  Press in action:



-and the wheel. 



Needs trimming, and you can see some of the scarring from the early tearing.  Overall, a good learning curve make, especially as concerns the mise-en-place for this scale, and my pressing/draining technique, again with this press, at this scale  Having another go next week.

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2014, 06:28:31 PM »
I watch with fascination and admiration. Good details of your process and progress.

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2014, 07:17:41 AM »
Truly remarkable, Paul! Your attention to detail to try and be as traditional as possible is inspiring!

Well done! A cheese for you!

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2014, 07:51:51 AM »
Thanks Boof and Spoons for your kind thoughts and cheese!  This make was really rewarding; cemented all the more that for this guy, alpines are the heart of what I want to do.  I'll keep updates coming and thanks again for your supportive comments.
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2014, 02:35:25 PM »
24 hour cool down.

Brine x 12 hours in saturated brine.  I have a 55 gallon food-grade drum converted to a brine tank.  15 gallons of brine, does great with these 17-20 inch diameter wheels.

Dry 24 hours.

Do you cool it down for 24 hours prior to brining? 

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2014, 03:40:45 PM »
Sir loin:

Yep, I do.  Want the cheese and brine to be the same temp, before brining.
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2014, 04:34:48 PM »
Interesting - does acidification continue lower during cool down?  I always thought salting was needed to halt acidity at the desired level.  Maybe cooling does the same thing or maybe you stop pressing at a higher PH to account for a further drop ...? Thanks for the great info and notes!  I love the look of your press by the way, did you make that?  I really want to get a router and learn to use it some day... Also, I've been looking into buying some wooden alpine style ring forms like with a tie string... did you make yours, or is there a suggested place to learn to make one or source to buy the polyethylene type?  Cheers,

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2014, 10:03:11 PM »
Interesting - does acidification continue lower during cool down?  I always thought salting was needed to halt acidity at the desired level.

Cold does slow down acidification considerably. Enough that it won't acidify enough overnight to ruin the cheese. By experience with washed curd cheeses, a 9-12 hour cool down at 11-13C before salting, will only make a difference of about 0.03 PH. Give or take a +/- 0.01 accuracy.

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2014, 10:50:41 AM »
Interesting - does acidification continue lower during cool down?  I always thought salting was needed to halt acidity at the desired level.  Maybe cooling does the same thing or maybe you stop pressing at a higher PH to account for a further drop ...? Thanks for the great info and notes!  I love the look of your press by the way, did you make that?  I really want to get a router and learn to use it some day... Also, I've been looking into buying some wooden alpine style ring forms like with a tie string... did you make yours, or is there a suggested place to learn to make one or source to buy the polyethylene type?  Cheers,


For me, it's an experiential game.  Larger wheels have more thermal mass, so they take longer to cool down and thus longer to "coast" into terminal acidity.  If I take these all the way to terminal in the press, I can guarantee they'll be lower than I really want, by the time they're ready to brine.  So I tend to stop higher for these.

But the real reason I cool my cheeses before brining is to bring the wheel and the brine to equivalent temp.  Putting a warmer cheese into a cooler brine isn't a good idea - uptake will be faster than one would want, and it's not easy to predict that rate.   

Edit: Oh, sorry, forgot to address the rest of your post.  I did make the press myself, though I've a skilled luthier friend who helped on some of it (he routed the trench, for example - it was a tray bit that I gave him).  Credit goes to Jos Vulto, Oudekaas on this site, for the design idea.  Do a search for it, well worth the read.  I made a few mods but the design was definitely his. 

My form is an HDPE form, an authentic Abondance form I bought from my French source.  They're very scarce - this concave shape is distinctive to the Beaufortain.  Some time ago, also directly from Jos's design, I did buy some HDPE and made my own straight-sided hoop.  Nice enough, but these bought hoops are vastly superior. 

The wood hoops, you can buy from Europe, but I'd recommend you look into New England Cheesemaking Supply.  Great people.  I've their "large" wooden form, which allows about an 11# alpine wheel.  They've three sizes.  Check here, their large.  Jim Wallace, their technical wizard, has a special affinity for the French Alps, its culture, lore, food, cheesemaking, you name it.  He's been generous in providing needed info peculiar to these cheeses.  I forget his username here, but he does post from time to time.  Check out his 2009 travel blog.  Alps, including the Savoie.  Very inspiring.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 11:00:18 AM by ArnaudForestier »
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2014, 02:03:56 PM »
A Beaufort can only be made with curds taken out from the whey on the first try.  All other bits that rest are called 'oublions' and can not be added to the wheel.  Next time go for gold.  A cheese to you at any rate.

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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2014, 02:35:03 PM »
A Beaufort can only be made with curds taken out from the whey on the first try.  All other bits that rest are called 'oublions' and can not be added to the wheel.  Next time go for gold.  A cheese to you at any rate.

Back, thanks for the cheese....but not sure what you're referring to.  If it's missing some curds on the first soutirage, not what I know anyway as there will often be just a "short pull" left for both cheeses, and they'll often top off the curds immediately before first press.  Perhaps it's a matter of AOC, practice, and...all too often....parsimony?  (Pretty versed in Beaufort AOC, I'm unfamiliar with any AOC issues re these "oublions"...perhaps it's a practice I don't know, or I've somehow missed it in the AOC literature).

For Abondance, given a wheel is close to 8-10 kg and vats are multiples in liters (e.g., a wheel is 80-100 l, 3 wheels from a vat) more, they will often take a few sweeps through.  I've also seen a soutirage of the entire vat, with pre-pressing and division among hoops. 

As I make Abondance-form wheels and not Beauforts, still not sure what you're referring to - I admit I can have it wrong, and interested to know.  Are you French? 

EDIT:  Sorry, on second pass I did see what you're talking about, the "cup" I added to the hoop.  I have seen this in practice in several gruyere-family producers, among them, Abondance.  Perhaps it's unique to Beaufort?  Any further info or lore on this, I'd love to learn.

Edit 2:  I should also mention, I work with a 20 gallon, stainless stockpot, straight-bottom.  Not ideal and I don't enjoy using it so much, but it's what it is until this winter, when I acquire a properly shaped, 60 gallon chaudron en cuivre.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 03:12:10 PM by ArnaudForestier »
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Re: Arnaud's Abondance No. 1
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2014, 12:25:39 PM »
Hello,

This cannot possibly be true, because it is completely impractical and not possible without mechanical aid.

If you can pull all of your curd out of the vat on the first try with a 40 gallon batch, you must be incredibly strong. The mass, before it lets the whey out, would weigh about 150 to 200 pounds.

Now many producers use vats that are much larger than 40 gallons.

It is true that the very last curds left in the vat are not fit to use, but this is the last little handful that is left in the bottom that you can't very well draw out.
Cheeses like Berner Alpkäse, Gruyere, Sbrinz, etc. typically have up to 4 extractions from the vat (some AOC's do state no more than 4 times). But I know of no one that says you have to get everything the first try.

Also, a lot of AOC's state, you actually can go in and get the leftover hardened curd (Vögelli in Swiss German) and work it into the part of the cheese in contact with the form.
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