Author Topic: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?  (Read 288 times)

Offline valereee

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Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« on: September 04, 2017, 08:40:34 AM »
I've been making cheddar and colby via direct heat on an induction burner with a thermostat -- the burner has a 'gentle heat' setting, and at most I get a very tiny bit of milk stuck to the bottom of the pan. But I recently was reading in Ricki Carroll's book that 'direct heating can heat milk unevenly and is never used in hard-cheese making.'  I haven't gotten to the point of being able to test these cheeses yet, so now I'm not sure what to do with my next cheesemaking. I've been using this method simply because it seemed so much easier and more efficient -- the thermometer goes directly into the milk and gives feedback to the burner, so I can get for instance a perfect 2-degrees-every-5-minutes increase in temp. (I've also been holding the curds at temp by leaving the thermostat on, and again I'm reading this is a no-no.) What would I be seeing during the make process that would tell me whether or not my heating method is causing problems? Or will I not know until I've aged my cheeses a while?

Thanks for any advice!

Val

Offline Gregore

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 09:24:43 AM »
Sure in a perfect world steam jacket vats would be free and we would all know instinctively how to make world class cheese .

What your doing is fine , and is pretty close to what I do .

And what exactly is non direct heating of milk if we want to get technical?  Something that has been warmed must be in contact with the milk in order  to transfer that heat to the milk , now if milk was a metal, then it would be possible to heat it directly by exciting the molecules via induction .

Offline cats

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 04:49:52 PM »
If we want to play with words, milk is never directly heated. We heat the tank that in return heats the milk :)

That said, if you heat gently, everything should be fine.
If you have a probe to get the temperature of the milk and drive the heater, that's good for you if the heater can heat slowly.

I use a bain-marie with 2 pots and water in between, but I'm on a stove and their method of regulating the temps is a timed full on / off method that could scorch the milk in the pot or curd.

Just see if the method you use works good for you, if yes keep it !
Missing good cheese here ! Got to make my own :)

Offline Gregore

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 10:39:44 PM »
Also cheese up until  very recently was for thousands of years mad over an open fire in a metal pot , usually copper. 

If you have every hand stirred your milk in an induction burner you will see that on lower temps it comes on full for a few seconds then cycles off again .  I have never had issues with any cheese from the milk getting too hot.

If a  few thousand cultures did happen to get too hot locally and die , there are 10 to a hundred billion ready to take their place else where in the pot of curd.

One thing I could add for nubies is never ever heat ( increase heating to curd) while  it is uncut curd . Heat transfer in a solid curd mass is very low compared to heat transfer in a semi liquid , like cut curd.

Offline awakephd

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2017, 12:11:24 PM »
I agree with the others - I started out using a double-pot method, but found that I get pretty much the exact same results using direct heat, with less muss and fuss. A key is to have a really good pot - I would not recommend that anybody try direct heat using a cheese pot with a thin stainless steel bottom, for example. But if the pot has, for example, a large "pad" of aluminum wrapped in stainless on the bottom, that will help to even out the heat pulses.

That said, there are two things that give me a little bit of concern in your post. One is when you say that you may get a tiny bit of milk stuck on the bottom - that does suggest that you are getting some localized over-heating. For comparison, in making 60-70 cheeses using direct heat, I have never gotten any milk stuck on the bottom. That may be a difference in the stove, or in the pot, or in the heat setting ... ??

The other thing that gives me pause is when you say that you use direct heat to maintain the temperature of the curds. As Gregore has said, I would strongly recommend against applying any heat throughout the curd stage until after the curds have been cut. The thermal mass of even 2 gallons of milk is pretty significant, so unless you are making cheese outside in the winter, you should not drop more than a degree or two during the curd formation, and this will not affect the results negatively. However, adding heat can disrupt or weaken the action of the rennet.

Basically, I would suggest that heat should only be applied at times when you are able to stir the liquid regularly - so during the ripening phase, I also turn the heat off; again, at most it will drop a degree or two, and I can easily raise it back to the target temp before adding rennet - but often the temp has not dropped enough to need to do even that.
-- Andy

Offline cats

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 07:09:42 PM »
Thanks Andy for pointing out the need of a very good pot with sandwiched layers.
I only have 30$ for 3 pots for now, very thin, but bainmarie does the trick.
May be one day I'll spend a hundred or more on one pot :)
Missing good cheese here ! Got to make my own :)

Offline awakephd

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2017, 08:50:07 AM »
With bain marie, thin pots may actually be better! I had to do some searching to find an affordable but still well made pot for my cheese; I think I bought it on Amazon. (Seems like that is more and more where I buy everything!) It was more than $30, but I think no more than $60, for a 4-gallon pot. I need to buy a 6-gallon pot for some of the cheeses that I make ...
-- Andy

Offline cats

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2017, 07:43:26 PM »
I saw some stock pots with thick bottom on ebay, looks like they are affordable.
They're under thunder group stock pot in the tittle of the items. I do not know if they are good, but they look like they have an encapsulated bottom.

For brewing I have a 40Qt insulated pot in stainless, but my trouble would be to heat the curd in this one. I never tried for cheese making, but could work for non cooked curd as it keeps the temperature very well :)
Missing good cheese here ! Got to make my own :)

Offline Gregore

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2017, 10:35:40 PM »
I use both thick and thin bottom pots , the thin one  has a bottom no thicker than the sides .  Both work , I just have to be a little more carful with the thin bottom.

Use what you can afford . 

Offline valereee

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 11:24:12 AM »
Re: the stuck-on milk -- I think it's the pot. It's enameled, and at some point in the past I burned something in it badly enough to damage the enamel in a small ring at the center of the pot. Food always sticks there. I should replace the pot. It was a wedding gift, and as such it endured all my early cooking disasters.

Oh, very good, I'll stop heating to maintain the temp while curd is developing, good to know!


That said, there are two things that give me a little bit of concern in your post. One is when you say that you may get a tiny bit of milk stuck on the bottom - that does suggest that you are getting some localized over-heating. For comparison, in making 60-70 cheeses using direct heat, I have never gotten any milk stuck on the bottom. That may be a difference in the stove, or in the pot, or in the heat setting ... ??

The other thing that gives me pause is when you say that you use direct heat to maintain the temperature of the curds. As Gregore has said, I would strongly recommend against applying any heat throughout the curd stage until after the curds have been cut. The thermal mass of even 2 gallons of milk is pretty significant, so unless you are making cheese outside in the winter, you should not drop more than a degree or two during the curd formation, and this will not affect the results negatively. However, adding heat can disrupt or weaken the action of the rennet.

Basically, I would suggest that heat should only be applied at times when you are able to stir the liquid regularly - so during the ripening phase, I also turn the heat off; again, at most it will drop a degree or two, and I can easily raise it back to the target temp before adding rennet - but often the temp has not dropped enough to need to do even that.

Offline Fritz

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 12:40:05 PM »
I may be posting the obvious, but to keep the milk temperature stable in times of no heat (after rennet ) simply use a well fitting lid and a few thick dry and clean tea towels draped across the top and hanging down the sides... keeping that curd mass nicely warm and snuggly till curd cutting time :)

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 01:19:02 PM »
Hi Valereee,

I started with a double boiler set up, my big 12L (thin bottom) pot in my old canning pot. I found it really difficult, so I just started heating my milk initially right on the burner. Once I reached my temperature, I switch it to the sink filled with warm water. I find this works really well for me. I check now and then during ripening and coagulation to make sure the temperature stays even. I just have to take water out with a cup and refill with more warm water if it drops. So far, I've round this method works really well and it's super easy to do. Only thing is keeping the cats off the counter!!! :)

Offline awakephd

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2017, 08:50:49 AM »
Heating the milk (or better yet, holding the temperature) in the sink really works extremely well. The main reason I don't do it is because then it can't wash dishes!

Hmm ... on second thought, maybe that's a reason I should use the sink ... :)
-- Andy

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Re: Never direct heat for hard-cheese making?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2017, 09:40:24 PM »
As long as you stir the milk I can't see any issues.  I do however have a counter argument. I use the double pot method see the image below and I feel that there are two main benefits. First being an indirect heat source that surrounds the milk gives a much better and more constant heat gradient.  Large heat fluctuations from the stove top are not transferred to the milk nor is it from the bottom up. I've seen thermal imaging of the way a direct heat source migrates through the milk.  I don't have any experience with induction stoves. The other is there is a larger heat mass that resists or at least take longer to dissipate the heat.  I find it much easier to gently heat over a long period and have the temperature being maintained over a longer period.  I only have a small kitchen and the lost of the use of the sink would greatly reduce the efficiency of my setup.

Just my 10 cents worth

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