Author Topic: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)  (Read 1148 times)

Offline CBBaron

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Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« on: April 28, 2009, 09:29:34 AM »
I made a farmhouse cheddar last night, but I have a question on what the curds should look like before pressing.
Forgot my camera but here is a description of what I did.

After cooking bringing the curds and whey to 100F I dumped them into a cheese cloth lined collander. Then I tied the cheese cloth and hung it for just under an hour. At that point it was still dripping slowly. When I opened the cheese cloth and dumped the curds in a bowl the outside was quite firm but the interior was still wet. I broke up the curds by hand and added 2 Tbls to my 3gal batch of curds. This seemed to expel quite a bit of whey and the curds were then sitting in whey. So when i put them in the mold to press they were quite wet.
Quite a bit of whey was expelled in the first two pressings (10# for 10min, and 20# for 15min).
After the first pressing the cheese was more like molded jello, it felt very delicate.
After the second press it was firmer and I could handle it without too much problem.
I then put it back in the mold with 40# for over night (about 6 hours)
There was a little bit of whey in the pan this morning (about 1/4 cup) but the weights had shifted so I flipped it and rewrapped to leave it for today. Also I increased the weight to close to 50#.

Should the curds be wet before pressing?
Should I have drained them longer before milling, of drained them while milling to get dryer curds?
Was there something else I sould have done different.

I thought I knew what I was doing but realized there is nothing like hands on experience to get a feel for how things work.


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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 10:56:37 AM »
I make a "stirred Curd" version of cheddar. 

My curds are small,  pea sized to superball sized curds.  These are tough, dryish, and almost squeak when eaten.  They are not overly wet or dripping heavily when first pressed.  Yes, whey gets expelled, but not a tremendous amount. 

I stir the curd after cooking for an hour waiting for the pH to drop to around pH 5.7 before pressing.


Hope that helps.
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline CBBaron

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 03:47:42 PM »
Thanks for the answer. I kind of figured as much after looking around here for a while and seeing all of the curds that looked almost dry. The curds were fairly firm but I think they needed to drain more. Perhaps heating a little longer would have been a good idea also.

The next question is, is there any hope for my cheese? Should I let it dry and then see what it looks like? Should I attempt to age it some? Or should I just use it as a fresh cheese? :(

Craig


Offline Road Rash

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 03:56:36 PM »
I'm new to cheese making too,but not new to cheese eating!Cheddar needs to be aged to taste right.If you eat it fresh it won't taste anything like what you're used to as cheddar cheese.It needs to ripen to develope it's flavor.

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 03:58:27 PM »
After cutting the curd, I let the curds "heal" for 15 min without stirring, then slowly raise temp to 100degF (30 min) and gently stirring.  Then I cook at 100deg, stirring constantly, till pH drops to pH6.15. That typically taked another 30 min.

Then I drain and stir the curds every 5 min till pH drops to around 5.70, all the while keeping temp at about 100deg F.  Then at pH5.5 - 5.7 I add salt, stopping/slowing the acidification process.

At that point, enough whey has been expelled from the curds to make the them firm, not dripping wet.

Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas


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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 04:05:39 PM »
In terms of "hope" for your cheese,  well there is always hope!. 

But it depends on what you are hoping for.  I have made lots of cheddar. Some much worse than others. I have some truly bad wheels that I cannot bring my self to toss.  Although I should.

Cheddar is a tough tough cheese to start out on. I find other cheeses like Parm and the washed curd varieties like gouda are much easier and forgiving.

By far, the biggest factor of success in cheddar cheese production involves your ability to monitor and control the lactic acid production in your cheesemilk during primary ripening. Everything else, while important, is a distant second.

If you can control the acid, you can control the cheese, as opposed to the cheese controlling you.

I would invest in a pH meter.
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline CBBaron

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2009, 07:21:56 AM »
Thanks Wayne.
Its interesting that most of the cheese making books and kits have you doing a Farmhouse cheddar as your introduction to pressed cheeses. Next time I will try a Gouda instead.

I guess it is time to break down and buy a ph meter. It would also be useful for making beer and mead (my other hobbies).

The cheese looked pretty good when I pulled it out of the mold last evening.
I guess my question was is this cheese going to go "bad" if I let it age? Right now the cheese looks pretty good and I would guess it tastes like a bland cheese. If its just going to get worse with age I will start eating it right away. If it has a chance of becoming a more complex cheese with age I will let it age the recommended 60 days.

Maybe I should quarter the cheese (~3#, 6" wheel) and eat some now and save some for later?

Craig

Online MrsKK

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 07:32:52 AM »
With my early cheeses, I cut the wheels into three pieces - one half and two quarters - so that I could taste them at different stages of ageing.  I'm glad I did that because it really gave me a feel for how flavor and texture develop over time.

Don't give up on this cheese at this stage!  If it has an acceptable flavor to you now, eat 1/4 fresh, then age the rest.  I'd recommend wax or lard to coat it, as the pieces are going to be quite small and would dry out horribly if you go for a natural rind.

I'm one of those nutty folks who doesn't worry about getting the cheese to be the same every single time.  My life is too varied, weather conditions are different every day, the atmosphere in my kitchen is ever changing, my cow eats different food every day - so I am a little more casual about variations in results that a lot of the members I see on this forum.

We all have our different "wheys".  Who knows?  You may decide that you really like the results that you get with this cheese - I hope you took notes because you may want to duplicate it someday!

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2009, 07:51:00 AM »
Your cheese might get worse over time.  Lactic acid will build in a cheese until the Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB)cannot make any more because they are dead.  This usually ends when there is too much salt, too much heat, or too much acid to sustain them.  All three things will individually, or in combination act to kill the LAB.

Left unchecked, the LAB will naturally die when when the acid they produce as a part of consuming lacose sugar, rises to the level of toxicity for them.  This will occur at about pH 4.1.  This is too acidic for cheddar and will produce a bitter, sour, hard, dry, crumbly cheese.  I have many of these.

So, your question of will it get worse over time? perhaps. depends on your heating and salting phases. 

But I agree (to an extent) with MrsKK.
I would not be afraid, and in fact would encourage you, at this stage in your cheese, and this stage in your cheesemaking, to cut up your wheel so you can get some immediate feedback on your cheese.

You can get a feel for all the senses.  Taste, smell, feel, texture, color.  That would be good information as you start to tweak your process.

Also agree on the coating.  You can always coat the remainder of your wheel for future use.


The only place I differ with MrsKK is that I perfer to get to the same cheese every time.  But, to each her/her own.  In the end, it is all cheese. :)
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline CBBaron

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2009, 12:43:03 PM »
Thanks everyone.
I will let it dry then cut it up some. 2 or three pieces.
Thanks for feeding my impatience and giving me justification for trying some now :D

I'll try to get a few pics this evening. The cheese looks pretty good to me and I didn't see any weeping this morning. I'm curious to see whats its like once I cut it.

Craig


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Question on first Cheddar (Farmhouse)
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2009, 12:14:56 AM »
Good luck Craig!