Author Topic: First hard cheese - cheddar question  (Read 2708 times)

Offline clherestian

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First hard cheese - cheddar question
« on: July 06, 2009, 11:07:27 AM »
I started cheese making a few months ago. So far I have made several successful batches of moz and feta. About a week ago, I tried my first hard cheese, a cheddar from this recipe:

http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/cheese/sectionf.htm#firmtohard

Everything went well with one exception.  I initially pressed the cheese for about 15 minutes at 10 pounds. After that, the edges of the curds were very visible, and individual curds would fall off if I wasn't careful. I thought this would be better after I pressed it longer. I pressed it about 20 more hours at increasing weight up to 40 lbs. When done pressing, I can still see individual curds and they are given to chipping off. Other wheels of cheddar I've seen around here have hte curds visible, but not as much as mine.

Now a few questions:

Any idea what I did wrong? Does anyone have another cheddar recipe they recommend? Also, I have access to raw milk. I buy it on Tuesdays, and it is usually from that day or the previous day's milking.  How long can I wait to make cheese from it, is it ok to wait till Saturday?

Thanks in advance for your help - Christian 


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2009, 10:18:00 PM »
How long was it before you decided to press with more weight? If the curds get really cold they won't stick together. Also if they get cooked to hot they get kind of rubbery and don't like to stick together.  Sounds like both.

I use this recipe and it's works well for me.

Cheddar - adapted from recipes by Peter Dixson   
Cheddar cheese is a relatively hard pale-yellow to off-white, and sometimes sharp-tasting cheese originating in the English village of Cheddar, in Somerset   
   
For 37.50 lb. (4.5  gallons) pasteurized or raw milk.   
   
Ingredients:   
1/2 teaspoon  of  MA011 starter culture   
1/2 teaspoon double strength vegetable rennet   
25 drops Annatto   
3 tablespoons flaked salt   
   
Approximet Time:   Procedure
Setup   Heat milk to 88° F
   25 drops Annatto
   Add 1/2 teaspoon Choozit MA11  starter culture
   
1.5 hours   Ripen with culture for 1 1/2 hours
   
   Add 1/2 teaspoon double strength vegetable rennet
   
Calculate   Check for the curdling time and multiply this times 3 to get the time from adding rennet to cutting the curd, e.g. 12 min. x 3 = 36 min.
   Cut into 3/8” cubes (pea-sized particles)
   
5 minutes   Settle curds after cutting for 5 minutes
   
30 minutes   Stir and heat curds to 95 °F in 30 minutes ( 1° F every 4 minutes)
   Continue stirring and heating to 102° F in 15 minutes (1° F every 2 minutes)
   
   Cook at 102° F for 45-60 minutes until the curds bounce off your hand and feel like pellets and are springy when squeezed. Whey pH 6.1-6.2
   
   Settle curds under the whey for 15 minutes.
   Move curds slowly to the back of the vat to form a pack that is 8 inches deep.
   Drain off the whey and form a trench in the middle of the pack to let the whey escape from the curds. When you are finished draining, there should be two packs of curds on either side of the back of the vat with an 8-10 inch wide trench down the middle. The pack should be about 4 inches deep.
   Whey pH 5.9-6.0 by the time the pack is formed and most of the whey is drained.
   
Cheddaring Process:   
Wait ten minutes and cut the pack into slabs that are 6 inches wide.   
Turn the slabs over after 15 minutes. Turn again after 15 minutes.   
Cut the slabs to half their length and pile them 2 high.   
Turn the slabs over and pile 3 high after 15 minutes,   
Continue to turn and pile the slabs every 15 minutes up to 7 high if you need to keep moisture in the curds or 4-5 high if you need less moisture.   
Maintain the temperature at 95-100° F during the cheddaring process. This can be checked by sticking a thermometer into the slabs of curd.   
   
When the whey is pH 5.3-5.4 (acidity of 55-75 degrees), mill the slabs of curd into pieces 1 inch x 2 inches.   
Time from adding culture to milling is around 6-6 1/2 hours.   
   
Wait ten minutes and add salt. Use coarse flake salt (like Kosher salt)  Salt amount will vary with cheese yield.   
Add the salt in 3 portions and wait 5-10 minutes between each addition. The idea is to let enough salt dissolve into the curds before hooping the curds and pressing them into blocks or wheels. However for smaller batches, two applications will be enough.   
   
Gather the curds into the forms (blocks or hoops) lined with cheese cloth and move to the press.   
   
Press with enough pressure to create a smooth rind by the next morning. This is 25 p.s.i. to start. After 30 minutes take of the pressure and tighten the cheese cloths around the cheese. Increase the pressure to 40 p.s.i. for the rest of the time.   
   
Remove from the press and take the cheese out of the forms. The cheeses can be vacuum sealed or waxed. If muslin cheese cloth is used, it can be left on the rind and waxed over.   
   
Medium Cheddar is at least 6 months aged   
Sharp Cheddar is one year   
Extra Sharp is 18 months   
   
Vermont, Canadian, and English Cheddars have higher acidity (55-100 degrees).   
Midwest Cheddar has moderate acidity (45-55 degrees).   
   
Note:   
The cheese can also be bandaged in 2 layers of cheese cloth dipped in melted lard. After pasting the cheese cloth onto the cheese, the wheel should be returned to the press for another half day or overnight pressing. The bandaged cheeses are drier after aging than the waxed or vac-sealed counterparts. The molds must be scrubbed off of the bandage, especially during the first month and after that only occasionally. An SOS scrubber sponge works well if dipped in a 5% salt brine.   

Offline clherestian

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2009, 05:37:17 AM »
I was very careful about the temp, so I don't think it was that. But the curds were definitely not very warm when I pressed them. I didn't know they had to be - thanks for the  tip. I thnk I will try your recipe this week. I have one question about it. I'm not sure exactly what to do at this step:

Quote
Move curds slowly to the back of the vat to form a pack that is 8 inches deep.
   Drain off the whey and form a trench in the middle of the pack to let the whey escape from the curds. When you are finished draining, there should be two packs of curds on either side of the back of the vat with an 8-10 inch wide trench down the middle.

Is this what I do? Start pushing the curds toward the back of my stockpot while they are still in the whey. Pile them up so they are 8 inches deep. Since will be using 2 gallons of milk, this will form a really tall narrow "wall" of curds. Let the curds mat together. Once they mat, drain the whey completely. As I drain, divide the curds into two mats.

Also, one more question - probably a stupid one. Milling just means cutting the curd mats into smaller pieces, right?

Thanks again for the help, and I can't wait to try again. I get more raw milk tonight!

Offline zenith1

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 02:26:18 PM »
Debi is correct about the temp. What she is referring to is the the temperature increase versus the length of time to get to your target temperature. If you increase the temperature too fast the curds develop a skin on them that affects how the curds behave during pressing , and also the moisture content of your finished product. It sounds to me that you did not use enough pressure in pressing your wheel. What size mold did you use(diameter)? I usually start my cheddar with ~40lbs for 15minutes. Then increase to 80 for 15,then 100 for 2hrs, then finish at about 120-130 for 24 hrs. Using these weights I don't have a problem with open curd knitting. Initially my attempts were in the same region of weight that you used, and the results were open curd. You can try to repress the cheese if you see this again by dipping the cheese wheel in 140 degree water for ~30-40 seconds, and then repressing the wheel with more weight. That sometimes will close up the curds some. You definitely want to strive for closes knit curds because that will be an open invitation for some unwanted organism to find a new home :)
Keith

Offline SwissBrowns

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2009, 04:46:49 PM »
Hey Debi, can I just ask about the recipe you said you're using. It's about the pressure, it says 25 to 40 psi, is this what we should be pressing at? I've tried to do some maths, and with an 8 inch diameter mold 25 psi is about 1250 lb. Does this sound right, or am I getting something wrong? Thanks for your help.


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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2009, 05:05:33 PM »
Yes, 1250# will give you 25 psi.  Cheddar has to be pressed at such high pressures because of the curd.  A lot of lactic acid is produced in the cheddaring step and this toughens the curd surface, making it difficult to press back to together.   This is why you see massive presses at cheddar houses.  Even farmstead operations I have been to have gigantic presses for applying huge mounts of force (usually pneumatically) to the wheels. 

Offline SwissBrowns

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2009, 05:35:33 PM »
Hi Francois, thanks for that. I live near Kaitaia actually. About the pressure though, does anyone actually go up to these sorts of pressures? For instance, to go up to 40 psi on an 8 inch disc is about 900kg. I made my press for 100kg, I can modify it to get close to 200 probably, but I'd have to go down to a 4inch mold to get near the 40psi. None of the photos of home presses that I've seen seem strong enough to get up to this sort of pressure.

Offline clherestian

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2009, 05:48:17 PM »
Francois - my mold is 4.5 inches in diameter.  Maybe I didn't use enough weight while pressing. What size is the mold you use for cheddar? BTW, I used two gallons of milk, and my finished wheel was a little over two inches tall.

I am posting pics of a few of my cheeses in another post. You can see the unknit cheddar there.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2009, 10:56:28 PM »
clherestian -

The main point of the instruction is to move the curds in a pile so the whey can drain away from the curds. You want to drain the whey but the pot is still being heated by the water bath. The curd will kind of melt together.
See the cheedaring photo with the new vat below.

Then you cut it in chunks and pile those on top of each other. Rotate the pile so the bottom (the warmest) goes on top and keeping the pot semi covered helps this work especialy if you are in a cold kitchen or have AC running.
 After you cheddar you mill the curds and pack them into molds. Keep the unpacked curds in the warm pot and it'll solidify nicely.

I did my last 2 batches of cheddar using this recipe but I obiviously don't have 1250 pound of weight. Believe it or not I got a great pressing with only 6 pounds tomatoes on the large mold (1 kg) and 1 pound of pineapple on the small mold (450 gr). Here are the photos:





Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 03:43:16 PM »
I was able to achieve 19psi on an 8in mould.  Broke my mould.


The curd was still somewhat open..
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 06:14:02 PM »
I think for the home cheese maker the "time" required to get a solid press is more important the the weight.

Comercial cheese makers usually need high pressures because they have stacks of cheeses one on top of the other or laying sideways. It obviously requires more pressure to compress 10, 20 or more cheeses than one. We generally only press 1 or two at a time.

Many of the recipes we use were developed by commercial cheese makers - hence the high pressures. I normally time my first press at around 30 minutes, flip then another 30 minutes etc. Some cheeses I will leave in the press overnight and some like the Munster I did a few days ago part of the next day as well. That doesn't even require weight!

I remove the cheeses when they look right not necessarily by time. I press with light weight (a can of pinapple chunks) for small cheeses and a huge can of beans for largers molds but the time is what makes my cheese come out nice not the weight. I don't think I have ever used more than about 15 pounds of weight on any cheese.

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 06:23:04 PM »
You may have a point there about the amount of cheese. That may be a reflection of the curd depth.  We  discussed PSI requirements for cheddar moulds that are deep vs those that are not so deep in threads prior.  I think previous threads will reflect that there was a conclusion that the deeper the mould, (the more cheese) the more PSI might be required.   But it was a conclusion reached before some of the pros arrived on scene. (hint, hint :) )   I would search the forum for those threads but dinner is almost up here........  (And feeling a bit lazy)

So, of the cheeses you press lightly for a long time, what does your curd look like? is it open at all?  I have posted pics of my cheddar, all still a bit open.

The commercial cheddar producers do use high pressure, but they also use a vacuum to help achieve that completely closed curd.
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2009, 06:26:29 PM »
BTW,  I am very jealous of your new Kadova moulds..  Don't make me get the 10kg mould.....
:)
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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2009, 06:31:57 PM »
Laws of physics dictate that the amount of cheese  under the ram is irrelevant (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), that is for a given diameter though, as soon as you start spreading your force out over an area, you need more force to keep your pressure up.  We stack 6 cheeses high in the big presses and that's the reason they are stacked, it's economical on compressed air.

As far as openess of curd, we produce 20 kg blocks of many different kinds of cheeses with no vacuum and prefectly closed curd.  They are done with a pre-press though.  The curd is pressed for 20-30 minutes under whey and kept at temperature.  We then cut the blocks up and place in molds, re press over night.

That's not for cheddar though (cheddar isn;t made here).  I will ask one of our guys that used ot work at a cheddar plant how they do it there.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: First hard cheese - cheddar question
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2009, 06:33:45 PM »
Wayne -
In the Munster thread I left you a note about selling you one of the 3 kg molds... for what I paid for them. I accidently order 4 when I want 2.

You have the first shot at it.