Author Topic: Camembert covered in pink mould / bacteria early on  (Read 5100 times)

Offline nhall

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Camembert covered in pink mould / bacteria early on
« on: June 27, 2008, 09:52:16 AM »
Hi,
I'm new to making cheeses and so far have only made Camembert.

My problem is in the first few days my cheeses are being covered in what looks like a pink mould or bacteria.  The cheese covers in pink then the white mould takes over.  A few days later, the white has taken over the pink and you wouldn't know the pink had been there.

I was very disappointed after seeing the pink mould the first time so repeated the process.  And again had the same problem.  After identifying some equipment I may not have sterilized properly i.e. making the starter, I repeated again ensuring everything was cleaned and extra attention paid to hygiene.  And yet again, my cheese is covered in a pink coloured growth.

I have also been careful not to cross infect, always handling latest batch back to earliest batch when turning my cheeses but I now have 11 cheeses aging in my cheese cave but all have a history of this pink mould.

Has anyone experienced this? What can I do? I'm tempted after all this effort to abide by the "ignorance is bliss" practice and as I cant see the pink mould anymore on the older cheeses, and have a taste....can anyone tell me what I should do???


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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Camembert covered in pink mould / bacteria early on
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2008, 11:22:00 AM »
Hello nhall and welcome to CheeseForum.org!

OK I've searched through my books and cannot find a pink mould before the normal white mould dominates and covers your cheese. The good news is that you are getting good coverage and dominance of the white mold, just not quick enough and thus I think the reason you th pink flora are initially taking charge.

But what I've read may be useful, some snippets:
  • The presence of Penicillium Candidum (also called Penicillium Camemberti gives Camembert it's characteristic appearance, aroma and taste and leads to a more complex ripening pattern than in other varieties of cheese. So getting this to work is critical, it seems to be working for you, just a bit late.
  • Occurrence of abnormal microorganisms are among the more common origins of problems associated with mould-ripened cheeses. For example your pink mold >:(.
  • The growth of Penicillium Camemberti causes a very fast increase in pH at the surface of the cheese in the first 2 days after which it is complete by the 3rd day. You are getting this late I think.
  • There are several possible causes of poor growth of P. Camemberti: (1) cheese surface is too moist, (2) the number or the germination rate of the spores is insufficient, or (3) competition with other organisms does not permit a good growth of Penicillium. Molds do not like "to have their feet in water"; this is an important rule among makers of mold-ripened cheese. Consequently, drying cheese surface at the end of moulding is an important step.

Questions for you:
  • Can you quantify "A Few Days"?
  • What type of milk are you using and where from?
  • You mentioned that you a making a starter, can you describe what you mean here?
  • What is your source of Penicillium Candidum?
  • Are you measuring the pH at eny of your steps as this could help the problem solving?
  • What is the humidity and temp after you salt the cheese?

This should get us started . . . I've also started making some notes on making Camembert here that may be of use.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 11:23:43 AM by Cheese Head »

Offline nhall

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Re: Camembert covered in pink mould / bacteria early on
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2008, 07:15:42 PM »
Thanks very much for your help and looking into this for me!

1. By a few days I mean day 2 or 3
2. My milk is full cream store purchased pasteurized milk
3. I make a starter culture by adding my penicillium canidum to 200ml of boiled and cooled milk and leaving at 30 degrees Celsius for 24hrs.  This produces an acidic yoghurt like consistency which I then add and mix with my milk and leave 75 minutes prior to adding the rennet
4. My source is a freeze dried packet of "camembert mix" which i assume is Penicillium candidum and something else???
5. No I'm not measuring pH.  I'd like to, what is the easiest, cheapest method to do so?
6. After I salt the cheese I store at about 85% RH and 10-12.5 degrees celcius

Your mention about moisture has jogged my memory though.  In the past 2 batches I decided not to cut the curds because I read that this would ensure a moister cheese.  When in my first batch I cut the curds and stirred they completely fell apart and I was left collecting a mass of tiny bits of curd, like ricotta. I still don't really understand the process of cutting curds different sizes for different cheeses when from my limited experience they will all end up mush anyway after stirring (advice here would be great too!)???

Perhaps I've introduced too much moisture (pink mould was worse on the last batch!) and perhaps I'm not salting correctly. I've not really been sure how much to add.

Offline John (CH)

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Camembert covered in pink mould / bacteria early on
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2008, 07:48:38 PM »
Hi nhall

Thanks and for the details. From your details it looks like everything is good. Your "Camembert Mix" pacakge sounds like it is a combination mesophilic starter culture and P Candidum. I just ordered a digital pH meter off of eBay here in US, sorry don't know where you are located. I think as you say that your curd is too moist, as you are not cutting it, which leads to surface being too moist which doesn't allow your mold to take hold initially allowing room for yeasts to develope which is what the pink could be. Cut curds should not end up as mush, are you getting a clean break?

Also, FYI, I just built a detailed Camembert recipe from several different places and posted it here. I noticed that most called for cutting the curds to help release whey, you can see examples of this is several of the threads in the Cheese Making - Records board.

Gotta go for night as friends coming over to play Texas Hold 'Em Pocker, see ya.