Author Topic: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem  (Read 2407 times)

Offline kate

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Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« on: April 16, 2009, 01:50:30 AM »
Hello everyone,

Thanks for all the great tips and stories posted here,
I've had a couple of attempts at making camembert, and seem to be experiencing different problems to everyone else, so I thought I'd see if anyone out there has some advice!

Essentially, I end up with cheese that is very firm inside rather than soft and gooey. I'm really curious, as my cheese looks rather like everyone elses' at all the stages, right up to having a runny middle.
except: i have never had a problem with curds sticking to my cheese mats, and i have never had a whiff of ammonia.

<this post ended up very long, there are three specific questions at the end if you want to skip the details>

The recipe I am using is basically the same as the one in the recipe section on this site - can provide precise details if anyone is interested

- i started with 5L milk, good set and curd cut, and got about 20% yield in two cheeses (weight/volume)
- i had excellent mould growth at 12oC, high humidity environment (colonies at 4 days, full coverage at 7 days). i don't think i could increase the humidity here, there were moisture droplets forming on the ceiling of my cheese fridge!
- after full mould growth i wrapped in baking paper (pierced) and then in foil, and cheese is now aging in the top of my regular fridge, which measures between 4-6oC.

It has been about 2.5 weeks now, and the cheeses still feel very hard. maybe i have nothing to worry about, and interior softening will take at least 6 weeks as finewino suggests.

i notice that patches of the mould are looking a bit grey - which i think is a good sign, as i read that indicates sporulation (which should mean release of proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes to ripen the cheese)

BUT i am worried, because the edge of my cheese (especially the smaller one) is looking shrivelled, and it is developing a rather hard edge. i read somewhere that this is an indication the cheese lost too much moisture too quickly. Given my first attempt, and other folks experience reported on this forum, I'm worried I have lost too much moisture.
i have certainly lost some moisture, because the inner layer of my wrap (baking paper) is damp, and my two cheeses have lost 25% and 32% of their original weight.
??Has anyone else ever noted how much weight they lose during ripening??

So I'm presuming insufficient moisture is my problem at the moment, but I guess it could be lack of activity of the bacteria or mould that does the job of ripening.
I googled cow's milk composition - 12-14%, let's say 13%, solids.
so, if you got 130g cheese from 1L milk (13% w/v), that would be _all_ solids, ie no moisture. (?)
my 2 cheeses make up 13.7% of the 5L milk i started with, suggesting they have little or no moisture left. ?

I read that moisture content should decrease during ripening - from about 60% to 50% (those figures from the article i posted previously). I don't seem to have anything like 50% moisture content!
(unfortunately, i can't think of any way to measure moisture content, short of drying out 1/2 a cheese completely and weighing the two halves to get the difference! i might sacrifice a cheese to that experiment if my ripening doesn't improve.)

My first attempt at camembert progressed in a very similar manner to this one (except i left longer at 12oC before wrapping, which could have been the problem)
I ate the two cheeses from that batch at 4 and 6 weeks, and it continued to dry out rather than soften. They tasted good, like camembert in fact, but had a very firm texture like very unripe camembert (and the last one dried out so much after cutting that i threw a fair bit of it away).

Apologies for the supremely long post, a couple of specific questions might help!

1. anyone else know the % weight/volume they end up with when making camembert?
2. do your camemberts start out hard and go soft over time - i seem to remember reading posts from people who had soft cheese that firmed up!
3. would it help to put my cheese in a plastic bag or in a more humid environment during the 4oC aging stage?
4. do i just have to wait longer?!

Any thoughts or advice gratefully received,

Cheers, and thanks if you made it this far!

Kate














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Offline kate

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 03:12:28 AM »
Hi again,

probably shouldn't reply to my own posts, but:
in the process of writing my previous post about my camembert tribulations, i think i might have solved my own problem.....

i think my 12oC fridge for the initial ripening is not humid enough.
what i thought was humidity in the fridge might have been created by my cheese _losing_ all it's moisture.  :-\ otherwise, i don't know where the hell the 100ish ml of water went!
next, i'm going to try aging in a small, humid, box!  :)

kate.




Offline Bella

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 04:42:47 AM »
Hi Kate
I have found that putting them in a small box works well. I use two types, one which holds two cheeses and another which holds three (sorry, haven't got a picture of them). These plastic boxes came with an insert that keeps the cheeses off the bottom of the box, and one of them even has an option of leaving a small hole in the top to provide some air circulation.

In addition to that, I put a Chux wipe under the lid so that moisture doesn't drip down onto the cheeses. I have only had one lot of brie through to completion using this method, but it worked a treat. I have some camemberts about a week old and they are moulding up nicely and seem to have good humidity in the box.

If you want a picture, I can take one tomorrow morning (my cheese room is in a shed away from the house) and post it for you to see what I am talking about.
B

Offline kate

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 06:03:11 AM »
thanks bella!
i think i get the idea, i have seen similar boxes with a kind of grill on the bottom - so don't trouble yourself with pictures unless you want to. will go and acquire some!
since i got such good mould growth i didn't think humidity was a problem, until i realised that the cheese themselves were humid, and growing ever less so!
will post here if new method is successful....
cheers,
kate.
 :)

Offline Cornelius

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2009, 05:48:55 AM »
Hi,

Just a few thoughts, not sure if they will help.

First, I don't think you need more humidity in your aging environment. It doesn't matter if the humidity in the cave is created by the cheese's own moisture as long as it is humid - and droplet on the ceiling are a pretty good sign of enough humidity. Additionally, full mold coverage after 4 days is also a very good result. I am actually wondering if your cheeses had dried enough before placing in your cave? At what temperature do you drain the cheeses and for how long? (would that have an effect on your firm center, I don't know)

Another thought is the following (quote from the CHR Hansen's Brochure on soft cheeses): "The most common problem is acidification that is too slow during draining in the mold, leading to post-acidification of the curd. It results in the formation of a hard core in the ripening room."  Unless you have already, do read this brochure as it does address a number of issues. It also mentions that post-acidification causes a slight bitterness - was your cheese at all bitter?

Link to Brochure on this forum: http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,593.0.html

Not exactly sure how to speed up acidification, but places to start would possibly involve adding just a little more starter, making sure the temperature during ripening is 90F, not stirring the milk while ripening as it slows down acid production - possibly get a PH meter to monitor the acidification process. Also, I cut my curds, let it sit for 10 min to expel some whey, then stir very gently for no more than 10 seconds and let rest again for 10 min. I know stirring may reduce your yield a little, but not if you are careful - the important part is that it expels more whey and seems to speed up acidification (at least according to my experiments). I then ladle the curds and begin my flipping routine, keeping the cheese in a room at 72 - 74F to drain (don't really have a choice unless I run an AC). I usually start off with Milk at PH 6.6 (in this country PH is always on the very low end no matter how fresh) and after 15-18 hours draining (including the flips) I have 4.6 - 4.8, with quite a compact cheese that can be de-molded and only needs little further drying until it is ready to salt.

It may have been linked to in some other post, but I also found the following web page of great help when I made my first Camembert:
http://www.dairyfoodsconsulting.com/recipes_camembert.shtml

I hope any of this helps, good luck and keep us posted of how your cheeses look in another couple of weeks ...



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Offline kate

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2009, 03:39:36 AM »
Hi Cornelius,
Thanks a lot for your very helpful post - haven't had time to check this forum recently, so just noticed it. those articles are excellent - especially the CHR ones, great!

Anyway, I think you're onto something – I had 2 cheeses from this batch, the only 2 differences between them were 1. Shape (#1 made in camembert mould (flatter), #2 in a blue cheese mould) and 2. Salting: #1 salted by submerging in brine, and #2 by rubbing salt on the outside and then spraying with Penicillium. Both were drained at room temp (about 25oC) for about 18h, then salted, and left a further 24h to dry before putting at 12oC to ripen for 7 days, then wrapping and putting in fridge for 5-6 weeks. The cheeses were both compact and solid, and not noticeably moist/sloppy (or different to each other) prior to ripening.

#1 : did start to get soft around the edges, but I ended up with a crumbly sort of core. I ate some of it at 6 weeks, when i noticed it was starting to smell a little of ammonia. it was actually very runny and too ripe at the rind (and starting to turn brownish, ick) the rind tasted like ammonia too, the centre was definitely edible, but bitter as you suggested it might be. the rind was definitely too thick, and also bitter. After 8 weeks ( I went away and left it in the fridge) it is looking pretty manky (starting to go brown at the rind!) and tastes extremely bitter, quite unpleasant. ☹
(pictures attached).
I will follow your suggestions to reduce the likelihood of post-acidification and maybe also about it not drying out enough before ripening at high humidity.
I will try upping the starter - I have actually tried to minimise the starter in the past, as i read that can also cause bitterness! tricky.
looking into getting pH meter, too. i can't seem to find a good one that i am confident will be able to measure pH of a solid curd - do you have a special one for that, or somehow use the one for liquids?

#2 : the one that was not submerged in brine, developed mould at the same rate as #1, but did not soften on the edges over time. I just cut this cheese today (~8 weeks after making) and it is a nice even texture throughout, the rind is much less thick. It tastes OK – but also a little bitter, and has a slight ammonia smell.
Again, maybe that post-acidification problem, but without the extra moisture that may have caused lots of proteolysis at the rind in #1.
#1 would have ripened faster than #2 in any case, due to its flatter dimensions.

So I will try upping the starter, not being so scared to stir for fear of losing moisture, and I am thinking i might actually wrap the cheese earlier as well - as i said i had good mould coverage very quickly. do you wrap and decrease temperature when you start getting small colonies? or do you wait for full coverage?

again, many thanks, will let you know how i go with next batch.

cheers,

kate

Offline kate

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Re: Kate's Camembert Making - Dry Problem
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2009, 03:50:28 AM »
and the attachments, had a little trouble, i think due to size...