Author Topic: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question  (Read 486 times)

Offline Duntov

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Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« on: October 21, 2017, 02:13:12 PM »
I have a question regarding long aging in vacuum bags. I recently discovered a one year old raw milk Gouda in the back of one of my caves that I forgot about. It was cream coated and bagged young. Upon tasting it I was amazed how good it tastes with a bit of sharpness like a medium Cheddar. I have had long aged Goudas before that had beloved crystal formations but they were not bagged. Does bagging hinder development in any way and if so how?

Also, has anyone aged in bags and then opened them to age a month or so longer naturally?
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Offline GortKlaatu

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 11:15:58 AM »
You know there's a huge can of worms out that regarding aging in vacuum bags. I think they have a great place in cheesemaking, BUT, I also believe they aren't the answer for every cheese of every age.


Best I can tell you is about some of my anecdotal experience.  I have on more than one occasion made large batch of curd for some particular cheese (so I know that the make is not the issue) and aged half in vacuum bags and half by whatever other method was most appropriate (natural rind, wax, etc.).


The vacuum cheeses were good, BUT in every case and without exception, when I have done blind tastes tests with multiple friends, they always say the cheese aged in vacuum bags was really good but that the one aged in the more conventional way was without question much better--usually they use words like "more complex," or "better depth of flavor."   Now mind you, I don't tell them at all that one was bagged and the other not.  I just say they are the same cheese recipe, aged for the same length of time, just with a slightly different aging process. 


I will add that they only notice the difference when they are tasting them side by side at the same time. 


So what I've come to do is this:  I generally make 5-7 pound wheels.  I age them by whatever is the most traditional method for that cheese.  And then when I can't stand it anymore and I crack one open, I use about 2-3 pounds and then I vacuum pack the other 2/3 of the wheel and let that continue to age in that fashion for weeks or months more. 


So, not really the answer you were looking for, but I thought I'd share my experience.



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Offline AnnDee

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2017, 11:23:45 AM »
John, I used to age my Parmesan in Vacuum bags but I let it age naturally for about 2-3 months then I vacuum sealed it. After 8-9 months, I tried some and there were already some crystals in it. I tend to age them longer though, around 12 months. I have few that are 18 months hidden somewhere so noone can get to it.
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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2017, 12:01:08 PM »
I have tried this John, and still do, and have found the only down side is it will draw any extra whey out of the cheese.  I still wax my goudas and such so they retain their whey but tend to vacuum bag my cheddars and other hard cheeses.  Keeps the mold off.  I actually vacuum bagged a butterkase for about 8 months, forgot it, and it was awesome to taste. With the cheddars, you will have to air them for a while before eating if you age them long term.
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Offline GortKlaatu

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2017, 12:23:27 PM »
Ann,
I've come to do what you do.  I think the gas exchange and rind development that occurs in the first couple of months is so important for final outcome--After that, not as much, so vac-bags at that point makes things a lot easier
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Offline Duntov

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 11:38:18 AM »
Thanks everyone for the replies.  I don't necessarily like the idea of bagging but it does have it's positives.  Bagging does retain moisture for our smaller long aged cheeses.  I have also found that bagging an over dried cheese will mend somewhat because the moisture seems to redistribute into the rind.  The crystal formations should develop as-long-as the cheese is dry enough before bagging.
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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2017, 10:42:01 PM »
Ann,
I've come to do what you do.  I think the gas exchange and rind development that occurs in the first couple of months is so important for final outcome--After that, not as much, so vac-bags at that point makes things a lot easier
I've had success with some hard cheeses that were aged naturally, cream-coated, and then vacuum-sealed.

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Offline AnnDee

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2017, 12:16:51 AM »
I have a question, I hope John don't mind, how do you vacuum seal bigger wheels? Is it possible? Is there a device to vacumm seal 10-16 gals wheels? I saw somewhere someone used a plastic sheet that adhere with heat. Do you know what this is?
Ann

Offline awakephd

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2017, 01:51:57 PM »
Some time back I worked out a strategy for sealing a larger cheese using my 11.5" sealer and the continuous rolls of 11" bags:

1) Cut two 22" long sections of the roll.
2) Carefully slit along one side of each section, so that it can be unfolded into a 22" square.
3) Place one square on top of the other, being sure that the "corrugated" side of one is against the smooth side of the other.
4) Seal each corner to form an octagon, cutting off excess material as needed.

The attached .pdf file shows the idea. So, here's the key question: have I actually tried this? Answer: no! So this is theoretical rather than experiential. That applies also to the theoretical size of cheese that could be accommodated using this approach - I've shown an 18" diameter cheese in the attached file, but I doubt you could actually put one that large in the bag unless it is very "short." More realistically, I would expect to accommodate a cheese of 12-14" in diameter; I'm guessing that is large enough to cover a 10 lb. cheese, maybe enough for a 16 lb. cheese, but again ... in theory.
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Offline Duntov

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2017, 12:38:48 PM »
I have a question, I hope John don't mind, how do you vacuum seal bigger wheels? Is it possible? Is there a device to vacumm seal 10-16 gals wheels? I saw somewhere someone used a plastic sheet that adhere with heat. Do you know what this is?

Maybe a 15 inch sealer?
https://www.meatprocessingproducts.com/65-0201.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0u2F-umO1wIVCAaGCh22HgYPEAQYByABEgIJFfD_BwE
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Offline botanist

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2017, 08:03:12 PM »
I agree with others, that unless you dry the cheese for at least a couple of months before bagging, you will lose a lot of whey and likely develop off flavors.  I've gone to paste and hard waxing almost everything for that reason, although I like to dry out the rind on the grana types (with or without being paste-waxed first) before hard-waxing.  I spray all my closed-rind cheeses with Natamax (lightly and then rub off any excess) as soon as they are brined/salted and before drying.  You may have to reapply every 6-8 weeks if you are going for drying the rind out without other surface treatments (morgue, etc).
I have better success with bagging after I've cut an aged cheese.
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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2017, 04:40:02 PM »
Just a bit on the crystals.  if they are on the outside there is a good possibility that they are Calcium Lactate crystals - though I have them on my 2 Y.O cheddars.  The real 'crunchies' are triocene crystals

from Wiki

Traditionally, calcium lactate crystals have been found in aged Cheddar cheese, Colby, aged Parmesan and aged Gouda cheese, with tyrosine crystals most commonly seen in romano, Parmesan and Swiss cheeses and more recently in Gouda and Cheddar cheeses made with Lactobacillus helveticus.

I also find that if the cheese is packed under a severe vacuum it accelerates the extrusion of moisture.  I tend to re-bag mine when there is considerable evidence of moisture, let them air dry, control any mold and re-bag without any ill effects.  Though I will say there is a taste difference between my Traditionally cloth banded cheddars and those I mature in vac bags..  but hey Im a bit pedantic

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Offline AnnDee

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2017, 09:01:17 AM »
Some time back I worked out a strategy for sealing a larger cheese using my 11.5" sealer and the continuous rolls of 11" bags:

1) Cut two 22" long sections of the roll.
2) Carefully slit along one side of each section, so that it can be unfolded into a 22" square.
3) Place one square on top of the other, being sure that the "corrugated" side of one is against the smooth side of the other.
4) Seal each corner to form an octagon, cutting off excess material as needed.

The attached .pdf file shows the idea. So, here's the key question: have I actually tried this? Answer: no! So this is theoretical rather than experiential. That applies also to the theoretical size of cheese that could be accommodated using this approach - I've shown an 18" diameter cheese in the attached file, but I doubt you could actually put one that large in the bag unless it is very "short." More realistically, I would expect to accommodate a cheese of 12-14" in diameter; I'm guessing that is large enough to cover a 10 lb. cheese, maybe enough for a 16 lb. cheese, but again ... in theory.

Andy, I can't download the picture properly. Please can you send it to me?
Ann

Offline AnnDee

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2017, 09:02:38 AM »
I have a question, I hope John don't mind, how do you vacuum seal bigger wheels? Is it possible? Is there a device to vacumm seal 10-16 gals wheels? I saw somewhere someone used a plastic sheet that adhere with heat. Do you know what this is?

Maybe a 15 inch sealer?
https://www.meatprocessingproducts.com/65-0201.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0u2F-umO1wIVCAaGCh22HgYPEAQYByABEgIJFfD_BwE

Looking into this now. Thank you John
Ann

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Re: Aging in Vacuum Bags Question
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2017, 02:12:56 PM »
Ann there is a pleated seal a meal bag out there that you can stuff a pretty big cheese in it.
I think we got them at Wal-Mart.
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