Author Topic: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!  (Read 1027 times)

Offline Tiarella

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HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« on: May 09, 2014, 07:06:24 PM »
Some dear friends of mine, fellow goat owners and all around lovely people of course, have a great mystery just begging for help from all you folks.  Last year they made copious amounts of lovely chevre.  This year they can't get a decent curd....it all ends up looking like yogurt or runnier.  They have tested their rennet and it passes the test.  They have changed their milking machine washing regime and even just tried making chevre from hand-milked milk.  They have tried pasteurized and raw.  In fact, I'll let Joe speak for himself so you have all the clues of this mystery.  We've talked this over and been totally stumped.....especially since when they gave me a gallon of milk I made a nice little batch of Brie with it and it formed curd just fine!  Their cultures have come from different batches, different shipments...well, I'll let them explain.

Joe writes:
 "We have yet to be able to make a successful batch of chevre this year. I cant imagine how such a simple cheese can fail. On multiple tries, all we get is a  loose, milky -whey curd. This is being made with one gallon of goats milk. We have tried it both pasteurizing at 145 degrees for 30 mns to going only to 85 when we add the culture. We have tried three different chevre/M101 cultures all with the same results. We have switched pots, as we were using and aluminum pot; again no change. We have used animal and vegetable rennet with same results. We tested out rennet as outlined on the webpage and it tested fine. We have tried to add culture and then wait 6-10 hours before adding rennet. It looks like the culture is working as the milk smells more acidic with coagulation/curd formation. I haven't pH tested the milk after culture, but the fresh milk is a pH of 6.6.

we have varied out renent amounts from
1.  1 drop into 1/3 cup chlorine free cold water and then 1 tsp of that,
2.  3 drops into 1/4 cup of water and then add the whole amount to the milk
3.  2 drops of rennent directly into the milk

again. all fails

It seems the curd forms but just never forms a firm, cutable curd. It looks like yougurt.  I have attached a photo
I was wondering if I should go to the extreme and add 1/4 tsp of rennent and see if that works.. I could then just keep backing off the amount

Any suggestions? Thanks again for your time and consideration

Joe and Stan McCoy



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Offline Spoons

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2014, 08:44:28 PM »
... and all around lovely people of course, ...

There's the problem!  :P

Did they test the rennet on 1 gallon of store-bought milk? This would rule out either the rennet or their own milk by doing the test.

If it's the milk, then I would take a wild guess and say it's casein deficiency in the milk. Their goats are probably grazing on something not beneficial to milk production.
or
a contaminant in the milk (vat or equipment clean but not sanitized, or a contaminant IN the milk)
or
Improper rennet handling (over-stirred? improper storage like exposure to sunlight, etc...)
or
rennet quality: should be around 90% chymosin and 10% pepsin.


I hope Mr. White chimes in (Pav), he'll certainly have an answer.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 09:01:09 PM by Spoons »
- Eric

Offline Tiarella

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2014, 10:12:21 PM »
Hmmm, over-stirred rennet???  this is a new thought.  I'm going to send Joe and Stan a link to this thread so they can read along and answer questions.  Thanks for your ideas!!!  The goats are fed grain and hay with some pasture to nibble.....not huge amounts of pasture.  I think Pav is on sabbatical while he busts his ass getting his creamery up.....or something very exciting like that and I can't wait to hear about it when he resurfaces. 

Offline TimT

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2014, 03:49:41 AM »
I had my crack at an answer on the other thread:

http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php?topic=12728.msg98813#msg98813

Basically the quality of goat's milk varies depending on when it comes in the lactation cycle. I'm not sure what can be done about this (aside from a new kid, of course); the most likely solution seems to be feed.

Offline steffb503

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2014, 05:33:53 AM »
we have varied out renent amounts from
1.  1 drop into 1/3 cup chlorine free cold water and then 1 tsp of that,
2.  3 drops into 1/4 cup of water and then add the whole amount to the milk
3.  2 drops of rennent directly into the milk

I have always used 3 drops into 1/4 cup water then 1 TBSp into 1 gallon goat milk.


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Offline steffb503

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2014, 05:38:24 AM »
My Chevre never gets a firm curd.
Have you tried scooping it into molds and draining it the way it is? Or does it run through the holes?

Offline Tiarella

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2014, 06:37:11 AM »
Tim, thanks for chiming in with ideas! 
I'm hoping Joe or Stan will answer directly but from our phone conversations I know the following:
The amount of rennet they're using is what they used last year with all successes.
The milk is early lactation milk but not so early that it could be an issue.  They are a more than a month into lactation.
The milk formed a Brie curd fine for me....same milk, different person/kitchen/recipe  (yes, they are going to use my recipe to test now)

Steff, it's too runny for molds......and even when they tried to drain with butter muslin the resulting whey was very milky and the texture was off on the resulting chevre.  We talked about this yesterday and I don't remember quite how Joe described the texture but remember it was unsatisfactory.  Their rennet version #2 would have been more rennet than you say you use and it was still a fail.  Do you think they can just use a much larger amount of rennet and then if curd forms they can slowly try less and less rennet in future batches? 

Joe wrote this morning to say he forgot to mention that they've tried adding a 1/2 tsp. of calcium chloride with no success.

Diet is grass, hay, grain....same as last year when they had success although I think Joe should post here exactly what they are feeding just in case there's something that triggers an idea of a reason for all these fails.

Offline steffb503

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2014, 08:54:33 AM »
As I am milking this am I was thinking about this.
If you made a successful Brie with that milk, rule out the milk.
Did you use the same rennet and cultures? If not one of those would be suspect. Could they be old? How are they stored?
New rennet and new cultures might solve the problem.

Offline Tiarella

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2014, 11:21:17 AM »
As I am milking this am I was thinking about this.
If you made a successful Brie with that milk, rule out the milk.
Did you use the same rennet and cultures? If not one of those would be suspect. Could they be old? How are they stored?
New rennet and new cultures might solve the problem.

Yeah, that was my thought too but they've used different cultures and did test their rennet to make sure it was viable.  I've asked them how much they stir in the rennet because Timothy asked about that....  it's quite a mystery.  they had a fail again this morning.   :(

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2014, 04:05:30 PM »
They could test their own milk (not store bought) by making a simple hard cheese. They should do the floc test and see if they get a decent coagulation and curd set. They don't need to go any further than that if they don't want to. The floc should be 12-15 minutes. If not, they might have to run a second test and increase the rennet. If the milk flocs in a reasonable time and makes a decent curd, then the problem isn't their milk.

BUT my guess is that they need to look at some changes to their make. The milk should only be at room temperature (72F or so) before adding the culture. Heating the milk to 85F and then adding culture will allow the bacteria to produce acid too quickly. With Chevre, that effects texture in the finished cheese. They also have a timing problem. They should add rennet immediately after adding the culture. By adding the rennet later in the process, the milk is becoming much more acidic than it should, produces an acid coagulated cheese with a yogurt consistency, and the rennet doesn't function well (if at all). Think about adding rennet to yogurt. Would that produce a firm curd? After adding culture and rennet, they should let the milk sit for 6-12 hours or until there is a thin film of whey on the top and the curd mass is pulling away from the sides of the pot.

Hope this helps.
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Offline TimT

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2014, 05:46:58 PM »
Now down to the nitty-gritty.... but shouldn't acidification be encouraged? Isn't it the process of acidification that allows the curds and whey to stop bonding together and to float apart? If the pH is a problem perhaps a switch to foods with a different pH, to change that of the milk? Could a natural culture in the milk be interfering with added chevre cultures?

Offline Tiarella

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2014, 06:03:37 PM »
Aaah, I think Sailor has the answer although they did at first add the rennet at the same time as the culture.  We'll see what they say.  Thanks for this perspective......

Offline WovenMeadows

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2014, 06:18:41 PM »
Nobody's tossed this out yet, so might as well - bacteriophage?
I'm only suggesting this because its something I've read but haven't experienced. Virus which attacks the culture bacteria, stops it in its tracks. One thing that would discount this hasn't as far as I can tell been shown:
whether the culture is in fact working and acidifying the milk (I think you only said they said it "smells" like it is?)
In addition, it looks like they've only tried new/different packets of the same culture (M101), but not different brands and strains. So if its the same strain of the same species of bacteria used, it would continue to be affected if there is any phage present.
It's an environmental contaminant, and I hear can be hard to get rid of. And being environmental, could account for why you were able to produce cheese with the same milk at your place, but not your friends at theirs.

Offline Schag

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2014, 08:38:16 AM »
Hi everyone.  I just joined the forum.  I'm one of the guys that this thread is referring to.  Thanks, Tiarella, for posting our delemma.  It's really frustrating because we are trying to duplicate last year's process which produced delicious chèvre almost every time.

I've read all your posts.  Thanks for the advise.  I've decided to go back to basics this morning.  We milked the does separately, and I used a gallon out of one of the does.  I heated the milk to 75, added 1/4 tsp culture, then 1 tsp of (3 drops rennet to 1/3 c water).  I left out the calcium chloride on thus batch.

The change in the cheese has been so extreme this season that I am wondering if Woven Meadows may be onto something. 

Sailor was right about adding the rennet later in the process.  We tried that yesterday and our result was thick cream.  We will be trying a hard cheese within the next couple of days.

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Re: HELP!!! Or, Help us solve this mystery!!!
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2014, 03:41:08 PM »
So this has gotten worse.  The result of the above was another fail, about the consistency of buttermilk.  The ph of the fresh milk was 6.7 - the of of the result was 5.6

No coagulation whatsoever.