Author Topic: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese  (Read 528 times)

Offline Gytaryst

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Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« on: February 21, 2017, 04:35:48 PM »
I got into brewing beer a couple years ago. It started out as a mild interest but morphed into near obsession pretty quick. There was so much more to it than I ever thought. I still have all the equipment I collected over the years and I still plan to brew here and there. I'm just not as "obsessed" as I was. Brewing a batch of beer is a long all-day process resulting in 5 gallons of the "okayest" beer you'll ever drink.

Now I want to try my hand a cheese making. More accurately, I want to make a sharp cheddar. It's possible that once I get into it I'll want to broaden my horizons and try other things - who knows?

One of the frustrations I encountered with the beer brewing hobby was buying equipment based on limited knowledge in the beginning, only to find later after I learned more about it that I didn't really need that piece of equipment, or I should have bought this thing instead of that thing. I spent a lot of money getting my "brew system" the way I wanted to do the things I wanted to do. But I also probably spent half as much buying stuff I didn't need. I have no doubt it'll probably be that way with cheese making.

So far I'm planning to buy a 22qt electric turkey roaster for the vat. I'm guessing I want to use 5 gallons of milk. I don't know what size or kind of molds I should get and I have no idea how to buy a cheese press. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks 

Online nccheesemike

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2017, 09:43:23 PM »
Welcome aboard from another fellow beer brewer. I've brewed beer for almost 20 years and early in 2016 got into cheesemaking.  I'm like you I am obsessed with cheesemaking and not so much beer brewing lately.

As for equipment I would say any beer equipment like a stock pot makes for great cheese equipment. A thermometer, spoon, colander and a press gets you making cheese. As for batch size I make 2 gallon ~2lb cheeses. I wouldn't start at 5 gallons till you are comfy with the process.

I would look for a basic hard cheese mold if you're gonna make hard cheeses. Check out cheesemaking.com for affordable molds. I bought my press off there too a tad more expensive but I know I'm in this cheesemaking for the long haul.

I am sure others will give you great advice here. I hope mine helps too. Welcome and happy cheesemaking!!


Mike

Offline Gregore

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 11:34:51 PM »
We all have gear we do not use .

I also agree do not buy a special pot yet stay at about 1 to three gallons for now.  you may find you never make a cheese that big , or you may find that that is even too small.

I would suggest spending a week and reading through the forum and then decide on cheese type you like to make. Then find a recipe on here if possible and post it here or a link and ask what you need to make that cheese .

Or if you want to learn to make cheese with minimal gear for the first few makes then  find a good feta recipe and make that for a few times  all you need that you would not have in the house is a basket to drain it , cheese cloth and a starter culture , there might even be a butter milk version on here somewhere .  So then you do not need to order starter.


Offline Gytaryst

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 10:22:21 AM »
 :) Thanks guys. My reason for deciding on 5 gallon batches was based almost entirely on the time factor. Waiting 6 months for a pound of cheese seems . . . well let's just say I'd rather not make cheese at all than to go thru the effort and waiting just for a pound or two. Regardless of how it turns out I'd like to give some away to family and say, "This is the cheese we made." I get that it's easier to throw away a 1 gallon mistake than a 5 gallon mistake. But I'm going into this with the idea that it won't be a mistake. Ha Ha Ha. (famous last words).

Offline awakephd

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 02:26:32 PM »
Gytaryst, the key to the time-vs-payoff dilemma is to make some quick-ripening cheeses as well as the long-ripening ones. A Caerphilly is ready in as little as 3 weeks. It is in the cheddar family, generally a bit tangy and crumbly. A "Lancashire" - as made by many of us, probably not really deserving of that name, but what you'll find if you search the forum - is ready in 6 weeks. So make a Caerphilly this weekend, and a Lancashire next weekend, and then make a cheddar. Periodically make another Caerphilly or Lancashire to keep cheese "in the pipeline." It will probably take you a few tries to feel confident in following the recipes, so making something that you can try in 3 weeks is a good way to gain that confidence.

As for essential equipment, here's my list:

A thermometer with good accuracy in the 80-130°F range
A stainless-steel cheese "ladle" (basically a shallow-bowl slotted spoon)
A stainless-steel pot of suitable size
A curd knife - which for me is just a large-size cake decorating spatula, not very expensive from Amazon
A stainless-steel colander - if you want to make 5 or 6 gallon batches, you'll want a large one - I got mine on Amazon, again not too expensive
Cheesecloth or butter muslin (the latter is a "finer" version of the former)
One or more cheese molds - which can be made by poking holes in inexpensive food containers if you don't need to apply overly high pressure (this is a cheap way to get started)
Some sort of press - you can buy presses of a variety of styles, but I recommend looking at the many plans on-line for a dutch-style press - easy to make (can be as easy as a 2x4 hinged to a wall, with another 2x4 hinged to it to act as the ram, and a jug of water as the weight)

Note that the press is not needed if you make certain types of cheeses, such as the blues, cams, brie, etc.

If you really want to go straight to the 5-gallon size, you will probably want to get an 8" diameter cheese mold. For a 4-gallon make, which is what I mostly do, I use a 7" diameter mold made from a recycled bucket of the appropriate type of plastic. Before that, I mostly made 3-gallon makes, and my primary mold was a 6" diameter food storage container, again recycled from its former use.

Note that, as I have gained experience, I have moved to using direct heat. This is possible due to the way my stove works with the heavy-bottom stainless pot that I use. Before that, I heated using a "double boiler" approach - suspending the stainless pot in an inexpensive water-bath canner (basically just a very large pot), so that I heated the water, and let the water heat the pot.

One last item: not essential, especially at first, and maybe never depending on the kind(s) of cheeses you make ... but one of the most helpful, though definitely the most expensive, bit of equipment for me has been a decent pH meter. You need one that is really accurate, and one that can ideally test the pH of the curd as well as of the whey - i.e., not just limited to liquids.

Welcome to both the forum and the obsession hobby!
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 02:36:49 PM by awakephd »
-- Andy

Offline LantGladstone

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 09:10:09 PM »
I'd agree with what everyone is saying about making a fast ripening cheese the first few times.  There are some quirky techniques that are unique to cheese making that you have to learn before things start working out and they seem pretty mundane until you figure them out (stirring and heating curd etc) and they aren't really transferable from cooking or beer making.  Something that gives you a result fast will help you figure out what you did wrong and give you a good feel for trouble shooting.  I'd suggest camembert.  There is some neat microbiology (it can get really fluffy!) and you have to learn to be gentle with curd and think about moisture content.  Then you can graduate to cambozola which is neat because of the blue aspects.

I'd also agree with small batches.  I started with 4 L.

Regarding equipment, once you figure things out, you can jerry-rig a lot of stuff from hardware stores (as you probably know from beer brewing).  Reasonable beginner cheese molds can be fashioned from those round metal silverware containers for example.  A cave from a bar fridge with a special thermostat combined with tupperware plastic containers so that you can control humidity at different levels for different cheeses.

If you aren't taking a class I don't think it is possible to learn solely by reading.  Forums like this help for trouble shooting when things go wrong (and things will!) and there are some videos on youtube that are very helpful.  Gavin has a channel that I find helpful.  Now that I'm more experienced, I really like his troubleshooting and "when things go wrong" videos.

Best of luck!

Offline Justifiedgaines

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 04:11:26 PM »
Welcome!

I started making cheese around this time last year and I would second the starting with smaller batches. I have a cheddar that's about 2lb sitting in the cave ready to be eaten and I can't wait.

However, my first few cheeses were all failures. It's better to start making smaller cheeses, and then as you become more consistent, then make a larger one. Something else that I did was that I made the same cheese 3 or 4 times if it was one that I like. That way, I could have several pounds of a certain cheese, but if one turned out bad, it wasn't much and I still had others.

Making a fast ripening cheese is also a good idea. My first few cheeses aged in three months so I just had a lot of waiting to do at the beginning.
@justifiedgaines

Offline Gregore

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 10:37:42 PM »
There is a lot going on  and even more to keep track of on the first few cheeses , then just like very thing else some things become automatic and focus can then become greater in other areas .

That's why so many have failures in the first few cheeses .

Feta is the easiest as final ph is a very broad range , and it can be eaten right away after salting thought it does age out very nicely . Then for the second cheese pic one that ages in less than 6 weeks and make 2 cheeses 1 week apart. This helps you remember and correct issues you had the previous week and eat the results before you forget everything about how you did I it.

Offline Gregore

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Re: Brewing Beer to Making Cheese
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 10:43:47 PM »
One last and maybe more important reason for waiting to buy the gear is that , you think  you will make "x" types of cheeses but 3  months from now you may decide  you are more of " y " type of cheese maker/ eater.

This happened to me I have wax and Gouda molds as I thought I would make those , never used the wax and only used the mold once .   I make tommes , reblochons , cams and lactic cheeses .  All the ones I can not get here in town.