Author Topic: PH in cheddar making.  (Read 8403 times)

Offline squirrel

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2009, 05:25:40 PM »
FarmerJd, I think you are completely correct. I added too much culture and too much rennet to a batch of cheddar last week (it was a bad day) and so I had to cut renneting time in half, and cut the cook time by 15 minutes, but kept the heat up during cheddaring to slow down acid development so I didn't cut any time there. The end result was a moist cheddar - much moister than other batches I have made. The curds need time to expel whey and acquire the right texture - correct pH does not guarantee correct moisture level and texture. This is why recipes try to coincide pH targets with the right  cooking and cheddaring times to produce the ideal texture and moisture.


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2009, 06:16:23 PM »
Farmer, those pH targets are assuming that you use the recommended starter amount. pH is preferable as a primary measurement to time because the starter strength and how quickly the acid is produced varies with strains, and milk quality also affects pH. So ideally, you'd use 1.5% bulk starter or the recommended DVI amount and then adjust time based on how pH develops. This is in combination with rennet and curd size as squirrel posted.

If you heat to 102 and the curds are too moist and the pH is already at 6.1, you're using too much starter, or the curds are cut too big, or the stirring was uneven/too slow, or a combination.

Using the cake analogy, if you've missed the whey drain pH target, then you know something is wrong and need to take corrective action. If you hit the whey drain pH and it coincides with the right curd texture and moisture level, then you're well on your way to a good cheese.
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2009, 06:25:17 PM »
...but I thought that other things were also happening when you are cooking besides acidification, and these other things also must have time to happen.

ABSOLUTELY. Therein lies the Catch 22. Say your pH is dropping too fast. Yes, there are ways that you can control that. As Linuxboy said, heat to 102 much quicker to slow down the bacteria and acidification. BUT, you're right, that comes at a price. Heating too quickly during the cooking phase has it's own consequences. The curds will develop a "skin" too quickly and not expel the right amount of whey. Not exactly what you want with cheddar. As you physicists say "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction". ;D

It all starts with the right balance from the moment you start the process. Too much starter or ripen too long, pH drops quickly, and..... there you go heating to 102.

FWIW, that's why I haven't dabbled in mother cultures yet. I'm just not comfortable enough with the entire process to throw in another variable. With a direct set dry culture, I can measure out 1/4 teaspoon and get fairly predictable results. How much mother culture DO I add to get the same results?
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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2009, 06:57:58 PM »

Someone here, (Likespace I think)  once said that cheesemaking (cheddar specifically) is all about managing the subtleties.  Small changes upfront can make vastly different cheese in the long run.
Sounds like you all are saying the same thing,  but with more authority.


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Offline FarmerJD

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2009, 08:44:13 PM »
Quote
If you hit the whey drain pH and it coincides with the right curd texture and moisture level, then you're well on your way to a good cheese.

I guess this is the summary of the whole thing. Very helpful thread to me. Thanks to everybody who took the time to post.

Since Sailor brought up mother cultures, can I judge how long to let the culture work by the increase in acidity (.1-.2) there or is that another catch 22?

Newton's laws of motion are a cake walk compared to cheesemaking. In fact, Linuxboy sounds like a quantum physics professor when he gets cranked up. ;D


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2009, 09:05:10 PM »
Wayne, I was the one that made that statement but I admit that at the time it was made sort of "off the cuff".
I'm really just now starting to realize how true that statement is and beginning to understand the importance of managing EVERY aspect of the make at EVERY step.
In fact on the cheddar recipe (I'm still working on), I made a notation at the bottom that reads:
"Remember that EVERY MOVEMENT YOU MAKE will have an effect on the final outcome of this cheese".
Before every cheddar attempt I've made this year I have read and re-read that line.
The bottom line is that I still have a LOT to learn but with each bit of knowledge I appear to be turning out better examples of cheese. Hopefully I'll live long enough to realize the goals that I've set for myself.
Thanks so much for this information. It has really helped to open my eyes.

Dave

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2009, 10:07:51 PM »
Yes. Just a .1 drop in pH and it's time to rennet. Because the bacteria are going to accelerate as time goes on, you really don't want to ripen any more than that, for any hard cheese, not just cheddar. A bigger drop is a setup for problems later on.

I think the bonus question on the midterm exam is - What is the point of ripening with starter culture in the first place?

The bacteria certainly aren't adding flavor or "aging" the cheese this early in the process. Well... we know that rennet and curd set is more efficient with a little lactic acid present. So a little drop in pH makes sense. But some recipes and cultures generate more of a pH drop than others.

We also know that in the end game, the bacteria will eat up all of the lactose, die, and release enzymes that WILL contribute to aging. OK, so wait a minute. There is only X amount of lactose in the cheese, so won't that naturally limit the number of bacteria that can grow anyway. Say 8 gazillion. So what difference does it make how much starter that we begin with? Why not dump in a LOT of extra starter in the beginning and just watch your pH targets??

Actually I just finished reading a textbook "Fundamentals Of Cheese Science". They recommended several techniques to accelerate cheese aging, but the top 2 were  #1- Age at higher temperatures. (They suggested 62-66F with an upper limit of 68F). That's room temperature. and #2- Use higher concentrations of starter culture while carefully monitoring and controlling the pH. Their explanation was that this produces higher enzyme levels quicker, which will lead to faster aging. They insinuated that these techniques are currently being used in commercial cheese making. I believe that Francois said that they age at higher temperatures. He probably can't share info on his starter culture techniques, so we shouldn't ask.

So Newton got a headache. Was that because the apple hit him in the head, or all of the stress from the gears turning in his brain?

OK, I know I've opened a can of worms here.  ::)

« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 10:30:45 PM by Sailor Con Queso »
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Offline FarmerJD

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2009, 10:20:03 PM »
I figured this is a good place to show the pics of my first ph meter tested cheddar. I also opened a one month aged cheddar from the waxing and am moving it to the vacuum bags so I threw in a pic of it.

Sailor, I added the rheostat to my motor and it really doesn't like it but it works; sort of. I will use it til it burns up. Pic attached.

Quote
Well... we know that rennet and curd set is more efficient with a little lactic acid present. So a little drop in pH makes sense. But some recipes and cultures generate more of a pH drop than others.

Could this be the reason my curd always sets so fast even though I use very little rennet; too much lactic acid present? I am down to 2 tsps for 25 gallons and it still only takes 8-9 minutes for flocculation.

Yea lots of worms here.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2009, 10:35:03 PM »
Your curd bag is doing a great job. Nice wrinkle-free wheel.

Why doesn't your motor like the rheostat?

Yes, higher lactic acid can cause faster rennet action. You should not floc in less than 10 minutes. I shoot for 12-15. I would reduce your starter culture and watch the pH.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2009, 12:00:36 AM »
I think the bonus question on the midterm exam is - What is the point of ripening with starter culture in the first place?

We also know that in the end game, the bacteria will eat up all of the lactose, die, and release enzymes that WILL contribute to aging. OK, so wait a minute. There is only X amount of lactose in the cheese, so won't that naturally limit the number of bacteria that can grow anyway. Say 8 gazillion. So what difference does it make how much starter that we begin with? Why not dump in a LOT of extra starter in the beginning and just watch your pH targets??

I believe that Francois said that they age at higher temperatures. He probably can't share info on his starter culture techniques, so we shouldn't ask.

Just wanted to comment on a few things.

Ripening is only necessary with DVI culture. And this is more for the physics side of things. It takes time for the culture to rehydrate and be distributed evenly throughout the milk. This takes about 30 minutes. With mother culture or bulk starter, you can add rennet right away. That's one key advantage of bulk starter.

You can't dump a lot of extra starter in the beginning because the whey drain pH is a narrow band, and because it takes 30-60 mins for the curds to expel whey. If you figured out how to expel whey faster, such as for alpine styles that heat to higher temps and cut curds to 1/4", then you could use a lot more starter. But then you'd make a completely different cheese. Also, there's this gradual process of glycolysis, lypolysis, and proteolysis. A LOT of extra starter will change the rate of decomposition.

Yes, there is a certain amount of lactose in the milk, but bacteria do not multiply so well when it is locked up in solid curd. It's possible to have residual lactose in the cheese curd after the cheese is in the press, and this can lead to defects.

Francois has already said he uses bulk culture, and prefers a 1.5%, whereas other cheesemakers like 2%. He has shared that the culture preference depends on the person and one will use a culture for a hard cheese, while another for a bloomy rind cheese. He has also said the plant has custom strains for some styles and culture in the lab.

Farmer, you're using unpasteurized milk, right? If so, it most likely has meso bacteria already. If you're adding even 1.5% starter, it may be too much because of existing bacteria.
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Offline FarmerJD

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #40 on: November 18, 2009, 08:47:13 AM »
Quote
With mother culture or bulk starter, you can add rennet right away. That's one key advantage of bulk starter.

Can you define 'right away'? Are you saying that with my raw milk and bulk culture combination, I should probably only wait five minutes before adding rennet? And does this make the initial ph target drop of .1 a moot point? Or are you saying the ph drop will happen quickly? By the way I should note that I always add 1 quart culture to 24 gallons which by volume is about 1%.
One other tidbit that I am certain has been a factor in my cheese taste is that up until last week I was using a buttermilk culture. When I cultured the new meso 11 powder from Dairy connection it tasted like nothing more than solid milk compared to my buttermilk culture which is very strong. I can't wait to see the difference.
Sailor, my curd bag is the most simplifying idea I have had next to the stirrer. It is so much nicer to just be able to pull it off the cheese and then put it on from the other side rather than fight the cloth. The circle on the bottom needs to be a little bigger than the hoop so that the cloth can stretch over the top of the hoop to hold it for you.
The motor basically stops and starts with the low voltage. It doesn't just run slower. It sounds like it is dying; but it is not getting hot at all and if I tinker with it, i can get it to stir pretty slow. Much nicer outcome this time; no dust hardly at all.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #41 on: November 18, 2009, 09:32:20 AM »
24 gallons x 8 = 192 pounds
1.5% of that is 2.88 pounds of starter
1% = 1.92 pounds so your quart is slightly less than 1%

I do 4 gallon batches, so
4 x 8 = 32 pounds
1% = .32 pounds or 5.12 ounces

I agree with Linuxboy. Raw milk has native bacteria and changes the equation. I know I use about 1/2 the recommended dosage of DVI with my raw milk. I was acidifying way too quickly before backing off. I would much rather under inoculate than overdo it. I figure in just a couple of days the bacteria are going to multiply to an equilibrium level anyway.

LinuxBoy - I wasn't actually suggesting using a lot of extra starter. Just playing the Devil's advocate for discussion based on what I read about ways to accelerate aging in "Fundamentals Of Cheese Science". ;D In fact, I don't feel comfortable with their suggestion to use more starter. However, I am aging some of my cheeses in "aging boxes" in my unheated garage, which stays around 62-67F all Winter long. I keep my "cave" at 55F, so that is a considerable difference in aging temperature. They suggested that the increased aging temperature could cut aging time in half with no negative effects on texture or flavor. Would be really nice to have the flavor of a 1 year cheddar within 6 months. ::)

Are you then implying that the time for ripening a DVI starter is a moot point? Then why wait for a .1 drop in pH at all? You have me rethinking my hesitance with using a Mother Culture.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #42 on: November 18, 2009, 10:59:42 AM »
Can you define 'right away'? Are you saying that with my raw milk and bulk culture combination, I should probably only wait five minutes before adding rennet?

Right away as in add bulk culture, stir, then add rennet. When I use it, I do the same thing as when I make yogurt. Take a bowl, ladle in some of the milk, maybe twice the amount of culture, then dump the bulk culture in the bowl, and whisk together so it's more runny, basically temper it in. Then pour it all in the pot. This way I don't worry about there being large chunks of starter in the milk on the bottom and don't need to stir very much.

Waiting for pH drop with bulk culture is a moot point. The only reason to measure it with DVI culture is to make sure the bacteria have rehydrated and are alive and eating food and multiplying. The reason to wait is that you want to start at the same point as you would traditionally with a mother culture, which is already active.

Farmer, it may be a good idea to reduce starter amount even more. This is especially true if you're using milk from the fridge that's 1-2 days old, as that will have more bacteria than same-day milk. If you had a 3-5 hour ripening time, I bet you wouldn't need starter at all.

Sailor, I figured you were posting a hypothetical... I wanted to run with it and try to think through the consequences. I'm not convinced it's possible to accelerate ripening that much. In my cheeses, slower has led to better results.

I encourage you to try a mother culture. You don't even need to worry about multi-generational propagation, just use DVI for each culture batch and don't reuse the culture. Take perhaps 1/10 or 1/8 of the usual amount of DVI (I believe the rate it 1/1000 DVI to liquid by weight, so 1 gram DVI to ~1000 ml milk), and the volume of milk to get you to 1-1.5%, microwave the milk in a canning jar, close it up, then wait for it to cool down, maybe help the process with a cold water bath. Then sprinkle a little of the DVI, seal, shake it up, and let it sit overnight in a warm place for meso, or your dehydrator set to 110 for thermo. Do this Friday evening and Saturday you can start the cheesemake.

This way, you should still get consistent results because your colony sizes should be the same every time (same DVI amount measures on a scale, same ripening temp). It does take a little work, and might not be worth it if you don't have time or are making normal sized 1-2 gal batches. It starts making a lot more sense for large batches because the cost savings add up.

I haven't seen this approach detailed anywhere else, presumably because you can only reliably culture most DVI once (the second time, the bacteria ratio will be different unless you're using a reculturable bulk starter like Abiasa's). Most of the time when people in the industry talk bulk starter vs DVI, they claim you need an expensive lab to do starter propagation because it requires aseptic handling, and DVI is open packet and pour. But I haven't seen the discussion of reculturing DVI for each batch, which is a hybrid approach and requires a lot less equipment. No need to keep mother starters in deep freeze, for example, and aseptic handling is easier because you could use a normal hepa hood and light a few bunsen burners in the working area to kill airborn bugs. Seal the container when you're done, toss in incubator for the night, and make cheese in the morning. Takes maybe $800 in lab equipment and makes the starter cost per pound of cheese somewhere in the 2-5 cent range, which is on par or cheaper than traditional bulk starter, taking fixed costs into account over their depreciable lifespan.

I know some of the best cheese plants culture their own. Rogue creamery for example maintains their custom blue strains in their lab.

Sorry I keep hijacking the thread. Got a little wound up there, like Farmer said :)


[edit]I went through this again and want to correct a slight error. It's a moot point to ripen with bulk culture for cheddar. Because usually after addition, you get the correct pH drop right away due to the acidity of the bulk starter culture. There are many cheeses where you need to ripen past the usual 6.5-6.6 rennetting pH. For example, in a camembert, the milk is ripened longer, and it is also ripened longer in many blue cheeses.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 05:03:24 PM by linuxboy »
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Offline FarmerJD

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2009, 02:04:56 PM »
And every time you get wound up you open another can of worms. ;)
I was planning on continuing using the mother culture to keep from buying powder. I heat a gallon plus one cup of milk to about 185 then cool down to 95, pour into 4 jars and a little plastic container. I then put all four in a cooler with 95 degree water in the bottom and wrap the cooler with a blanket for 6 -8 hrs. I freeze the plastic container for the starter and use the 4 quarts to make four batches over 2 weeks. So... Is this a waste because of probable contamination?
You are right about my milk being cold. At least 6 gallons a day saved back for cheese so I make cheese every 4 - 5 days unless I do something else with it. 6 gallons are fresh and 6 are probably 3 days old. Are the natural meso strains going to be consistent in what they produce or is this rolling the dice?

Wow, what a thread!

Offline linuxboy

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Re: PH in cheddar making.
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2009, 02:30:36 PM »
I freeze the plastic container for the starter and use the 4 quarts to make four batches over 2 weeks. So... Is this a waste because of probable contamination?

That should be fine. The biggest sources of contamination are from a container that hasn't been cleaned (you should take the 4 quart containers out from a dishwasher that's been through a sanitize cycle, or bleach, or similar), or from airborne dust particles that are carrying yeast, bacteria, and mold. If you cool to 95, add culture, and immediately seal the container, you should be fine. It's not aseptic, so there's a chance some other bugs will grow, but honestly, you should be ok. Other people say to use a mother culture within a few days, but it will be viable for months (viability does decrease...store as cold as possible without freezing), and if you keep everything clean, the cheese will be fine.

Are the natural meso strains going to be consistent in what they produce or is this rolling the dice?

The strains in a specific geographic area tend to stay they same unless the environment changes drastically. So for example, winter strains may be a little different than spring/summer ones. In terms of rolling the dice, that depends on how clean you keep everything. Do you keep hair trimmed around the udder to minimize hair falling in? Do you sanitize and teat dip? Do you squirt a few times from the end to let the bacteria-heavy milk out? Is there any mold on the straw where she sleeps? Any poop? I don't think you feed silage, but if you did, that can contaminate from the air. And then there's the milk handling... do you milk into a bucket that's already in an ice bath? You separate into covered gallon containers and chill right away, which is very good. Cold air circulating in the fridge helps to bring the temp down.

You could use a clabber starter instead of commercial ones. If everything is clean, it should work just as well, maybe better. When you make clabber, does it taste sweet, perhaps slightly sour, or is it very very sour? Any gas bubbles form? If your clabber is tangy, but also somewhat sweet and creamy, that makes for a great starter. If it smells "off", or is very sour, or the texture is stringy, or there are gas bubbles, then it's contaminated.
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