Author Topic: making a follower from parafin or possibly plaster? (and other mold questions)  (Read 1736 times)

Offline shoelessone

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Hi all, I did a quick search and apart from Carter's beautiful followers I didn't see too much about this. 

I'm wondering about making a follower either by pouring paraffin wax into my mold (6" PVC pipe) or possibly even using something like plaster. 

Plaster is a bit more bridle and it would soak up moisture, however I would cover the plaster with a layer (or two) of plastic wrap to keep it clean.  The nice thing is I could make the follower as thick as possible. And a plaster follower would be easy to mold, just coat the inside of my mold with some vasoline, pour the plaster, wait for it to set, and pull it out! 

Other questions:

1) This has been talked about before (again by Carter I think), but I didn't get a clear answer.  The question: should I drill weep holes in my mold?  I have a basically unlimited supply of cheap (basically free) 6" diameter PVC pipe, and I know I can make a few molds some with and some without weep holes, but I'm still curious.  I know that harder cheeses perhaps don't require weeping holes, but is a 6" virgin PVC pipe really an acceptable mold for hard cheeses?

2) for pressing, is it acceptable to just put the mold on a pie pan (or other flat surface) for the pressing?  I worry that a flat surface will cause the liquid to just be pressed into itself.  For the first few cheeses I made (failures, basically) I used a slightly convex surface (lid of a pan) to press the cheese into, so that liquid would flow out of the mold and down the lid into the pan.  I worry about a flat surface.

3) for my first cheeses I used a handkerchief inside of my mold in place of cheese cloth.  This was very frustrating because  the handkerchief bunched up in various places and left creases on the sides and lopsided tops to the cheese.  Not pretty (see image).  I know that I can use muslin or butter muslin or chese cloth, or even a paint can strainer, but it seems like even these finer and less bulky cloths would still bunch up on top/below the cheese.  How do I avoid this?  Do you put the follower directly on the curds, or?  I'd love to just do away with the cloth in the mold (with a mold without weeping holes), but I read somewhere (here) that the cloth helps with the knitting...

Thanks for the advice everybody!





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Offline MrsKK

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I cut my follower from a piece of hardwood and made it small enough so that I only have one layer of my muslin over the top of my cheese.  The rest of the muslin is "flopped" over the top of the follower.

If you gently pull up on the cheesecloth/muslin after you have packed your mold with curd, it will reduce the amount of wrinkling impressions on your cheeses.

I've read about people using paraffin to make followers with great success.  I think that plaster is too porous and brittle, although you can always pioneer the method and let us know what your observations are!

I have a pressing frame much like the one in your other thread and I put it on a cookie sheet with 1" sides on it, then it all goes in the bathtub with the bathroom door shut (to keep the pets out of it).  I have found that my 1" thick bottom board is high enough to keep the bottom of the cheese out of the whey that presses out.

Good luck and keep up the good work.

Offline thegregger

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Shoeless:

You definitely want to cut holes in the PVC.  It's critical, especially for hard cheeses, for an escape route to be available for the whey that needs to be expelled.  If the cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth, the cheese can be placed on a plate or pie pan, and the whey will find a way to exit the cheese.

Greg

Offline DeejayDebi

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I would not think either parifin or plaster would hold up to the pressures in a mold. Wood or nylon (?) cutting boards work great. Alot of dollar store sell the nylon cutting boards cheap!

Offline the_stain

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My big problem with using wood/nylon cutting boards is shaping them.  I don't have any tools! :)  Right now I am using a ceramic saucer as a follower that is just about the right size but I've been thinking about trying to make one out of paraffin as well as that should be easy to mold and carve. I worry about it holding up under pressure a little, but only a little.


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Offline DeejayDebi

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If it were thick enough it might hold up for awhile for lower pressures and heck you could just remelt it if it broke...

Offline the_stain

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Just a quick update, I made a follower out of paraffin, it is about 2" thick, and I have pressed it so far with a max of 20 pounds of weight with no ill effects.  I am probably going to be doing a farmhouse cheddar this week and pressing that with 50+ pounds, and will report on whether the follower holds up under the weight.  It seems like it will.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Two inches is pretty thick. With a fairly even weight it will probably work pretty well.

Offline Cartierusm

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Yes weep holes are necessary for all cheeses, even hard cheeses. I wouldn't use plaster you never know what chemicals manuf. put into them. If you have a tap plastics near you for $5-$7 they'll cut you a circle of the correct size out of HDPE food safe material. Other than that anything that fits and is food safe will work. Dig aroud a goodwill they'll always have something to butcher.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline pam

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Regarding your hankie: I went to the fabric store the other day (they were having a sale). I bought a couple of yards of white dress-weight cotton gauze. I laundered it in hot water to shrink it some and it is GREAT. Light, strong, and just pourous enough. Way better than "cheese cloth". I zig zagged the edges of squares I cut out to keep the fraying to a minimum, but you don't have to do that. I boil the cloth and store it in a clean gallon glass jar. I can let you know how it holds up.
Be content with what you have - Rejoice in the way things are - When you realize there is nothing lacking - The whole world belongs to you
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Good idea Pam. I was using white linen handkerchiefs for a few years and they worked well also for small cheeses. Especially when doing riccotta!