Author Topic: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?  (Read 2399 times)

Offline John (CH)

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How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« on: June 17, 2008, 07:21:30 AM »
Many hard cheeses when dry require waxing or oiling or vacuum bag sealing by the affinuer for long term affinage to avoid long term dehydration/moisture loss.

If cheeses are sealed when too moist, they can more easily develop mould inside the seal, if too dry then not enough moisture for the optimal maturing process to A Point.

Cheeses get to this dry stage at different rates depending on initial moisture after pressing, humidity, if bathed in brine or wine etc and time. For professional/commercial factory cheese making they will know when, based on experience. For the hobby / home cheesemaker it is more difficult.

So the question is how dry is dry? ie what does the cheese feel like to touch when others have sealed their cheese, was the cheese bathed or not, and did they get any mould or in hindsite was the cheese too dry when sealed?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 07:24:08 AM by Cheese Head »


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Offline reg

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2008, 09:05:49 AM »
hi CH, and you have made a good point ;-)

as of yet no mold on the inside of the vac pac. what i did was to wipe the cheese down with vinegar first then vac seal. then cheese feels a little stiff but still has a bit of give to it. now i have no idea if that SHOULD be the case but will know later

reg who is home making cheddar as we speak

reg

Offline DaggerDoggie

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2008, 03:03:45 PM »
This is a very good question CH.  While most recipes give a specified time for drying, we have all found that there are a number of other variables involved as discovered in the earlier processes of making cheese.

We have all probably seen where cheese makers pull a core out of a ripening cheese to check it.  While one of those coring tools might be useful, I wouldn't know what I was looking for.

We now have two important variables to discover more accurately: pH and moisture content for aging.

Offline reg

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2008, 06:26:47 AM »
DDs quote  We now have two important variables to discover more accurately: pH and moisture content for aging.

sure now we are going to make this chesse making complicated ;-). thats why i enjoy this hobby so much. you know i read recipes and methods that pretty well all say - dry the cheese for 2-5 days until it feels dry then wax. for some reason to me the cheese will remain to soft using that theory but who am i to argue at this point




 
reg

Offline John (CH)

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2008, 05:52:41 PM »
The problem is 2-5 days in your environment is probably very different to 2-5 in mine and thus the range of dates and te question on when to seal. I checked my large 3 lb gouda and it still feels a little damp on bottom when I flipped it, yes very subjective, I'll give it another day or two before sealing.

BTW, my Dutch friend reminds me that Gouda cheese originated from the town of Gouda in Netherlands and that it's pronounced Howda like Howdy, not Gooda like italian it's a gooda cheese. OK, off topic.


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Offline John (CH)

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How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2008, 06:39:02 AM »
Mystery Theatre. Well it looks like mine were not dry enough!

More closely visually inspected my 3 Gouda's, two Cabre al Vino's and large 3 US gallon plain Gouda, that I vacuum bag sealed on June 20 after 2 days as dry to touch and had been aging in household very cold fridge. All three had small amount of water between bag and cheese, not good. So I removed from bags and placed in house fridge without plastic humidity control box overnight to dry out.

See links above for where I posted the pictures, the 3 US Gallon plain Gouda picture better shows the proportionate amount of water. The fluid was very watery and smelled fine, but long term could be disastrous for aging and probably th cause of people have mold behind their wax when finally cut open. The only good thing is I sealed in vacuum bags instead of wax so I saw and caught the problem early.

So obviously even though cheeses were dry to touch and I thought ready for sealing, I've sealed them too early and cheeses are still trying to expel water which is caught by plastic bag seal.

Conversely, my Jalepeno Monterey Jack that I also vacuum bag sealed has not given off any water, however it does feel softer than the Gouda's and it has settled and bulged slightly at the sides and become more barrel shaped as you can see from the picture there.

I've initially thought that salt as it permeates further into cheese over time is cause as it dehydrates cheese. But one of my Cabre al Vino's I never salted and it had the same problem and the Monterey Jack does not have this problem.

So it looks like the problem is particular to Gouda's, any other ideas on what's going on?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 07:19:52 AM by Cheese Head »

Offline DaggerDoggie

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2008, 02:50:27 PM »
From what I have read in Gouda recipes, there seems to be a lot of variation in how the cheese is handled after it is made.  Some are waxed and some seem to be allowed to develop  a natural rind.

If you had waxed the cheese and had not been able to see the moisture that was expelled from the cheese, would the moisture equalize throughout the cheese through aging?  Since there always must be some moisture in the cheese when it is sealed it doesn't create a problem, so that extra moisture may not have resulted in a poor outcome.

I don't know, just thinking out loud here.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2008, 04:32:09 PM »
Thanks for thoughts DD. My past Gouda's have turned out more crumbly - dryer than store bought ones, then again they haven't aged very long ;).

Even if I'd of waxed instead of vacuum bagged to seal the cheese I think same problem of fluid expulsion. The cheese is a living organism, and it's trying to cast out unwanted moisture, so I don't think the moisture would re-absorb into the cheese while aging.

I think the basic problem is that although the cheeses are externally dry to the touch, I am still sealing them too early. In future I need to let dry more thoroughly, internally, and carefully in a controlled humidity longer before sealing.

I'm also stumped here, fun science experiment though ;D.

Offline reg

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2008, 06:31:11 AM »
morning guys. just reread this thread then checked my notes. all the cheeses that were vac pac'd here were dried for at least a few weeks before sealing. now having said that these larger 8"x3" cheese wheels are going to take much longer to dry before they get vac'd for aging

there are a lot of variables happening here that i think we have to consider. have been turning my stir curd cheddar and the manchego every day and would not consider vac packing anytime in the near future. my guess is that it will be a month before sealing to age but thats only a guesstimate at this point

reg
reg

Offline John (CH)

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Re: How Dry is Dry (When to Seal Cheese)?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2008, 07:12:21 AM »
Thanks reg, that confirms it. Most cheese making recipes say seal when dry in a few days and while mine have been dry to touch, I have been sealing in the vacuum bags after ~3 days, too early.

I was also erring on side of too early after my unhappy experience trying to dry cheeses in standard household forced air very low humidity fridge and cracked overnight.

Now that I have my new freezer Cheese Cave, I will be able to slow, high humidity dry for longer periods.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 07:14:35 AM by Cheese Head »


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