Author Topic: Coagulation, Rennet - Flocculation Time Method Discussion, Flocculation Time Slow, Recommendations?  (Read 1523 times)

Offline Parselmouth

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I've only used the flocculation method described here on the site a couple of times, and discovered that my cheeses are taking a long time to flocculate. I tried a cheddar yesterday and the flocculation point happened at between 30 and 40 minutes. The stilton I made a couple of days before that was around the same, but I used different recipes and different starters, the first one was from a mother culture (which I had made up a couple of days earlier, frozen into cubes and defrosted before use) the second a DVI.

What could be causing this? I understood from what I've read that the FP should be around 15 mins, so this is obviously a lot longer. Could there be a problem with the rennet? Too much, too little? I'm following the recommendation on the bottle of 5 drops per litre and being very careful to count them out accurately.

I get my milk from a commercial dairy herd in which calves are born all the year round, but I guess there could be some seasonal fluctuation in % of cows in late lactation, so maybe this is making a difference.

I've not been making cheese long, so I'm not sure how much of a difference this slow flocculation will make to the finished cheese, and how it will affect the development of the acidification process down the line of the make. I have some pH sticks and have tried to use them to assess what's going on, but the changes in colour of the sticks is so slight that it's hard to tell whether I'm on track. I need a proper pH meter but have spent loads on cheesemaking equipment lately and need to keep some back for kids' christmas presents. lol 





 



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Offline Alex

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I've experienced FP's of 14-22 min.
Yours is too long. FP may be influenced by rennet, starter, temperature and off course milk quality.
FP will affect the moisture content of the curds. The longer PF, the softer and more moist curds.
Alex-The Cheesepenter

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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There are several possible problems, so eliminate one variable at a time. I would suspect your rennet first. The rennet could be old or otherwise weak. Or you may not be using enough. Your FP is definitely way too long so I would start by increasing your rennet by 50%. This is exactly why you want to use the Flocculation Method and not just blindly follow times in the recipes.
A moldy Stilton is a thing of beauty. Yes, you eat the rind. - Ed
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Offline Parselmouth

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Thanks for the replies. I have started trying to eliminate the possibilities, by changing from mother culture (which I find very imprecise in terms of variable quality, uncertain quantities, etc) to DVI, and making sure the temperatures are held steady. I'm going to have another go at a cheddar later on today, so I'll keep a close eye on what happens.

Even with the DVI, I don't have an accurate way of measuring the starter as it comes in a small packet sufficient for 50 litres, and I'm using much less than that. Will be around 16 litres today.  I've already used part of the packet but not sure how much so it will be a bit hit and miss.

The rennet is new, only had it around 6 weeks, but I have no idea how long it may have been in storage before I got it. Would it be possible to test the set in a small batch of milk without culture, just to eliminate the possibility that the culture is the problem? Or would that result in no set at all? 

On the plus side, I cut open a red leicester I made about 3 weeks ago and although the flavour was very mild of course, it was great, so I must have done it right on that day, at least.  ;D

Offline John (CH)

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Parselmouth, some good advice already, the only things I can add are:
  • Some info here on coagulation problems.
  • On measuring your DVI, someone here (Francois?) posted to empty the plastic-foil bag and either weigh or measure the total volume to determine it's dosage rate. I normally weigh mine as I found measuring tiny volumes was inaccurate. Also I use extra as mine is getting old, even though stored in freezer.
  • Rennet will set milk without culture, normally need less rennet depending on pH of milk, ie how much the culture has multiplied and created acid. So yes you could do tests with small batches of uncultured milk, but it may not be representative as it wouldn't include your starter cultures acidification schedule.
  • Congrats on the Leicester!


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Offline MarkShelton

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I have been making cheese for a few months now (this is my first post) and I seem to be having the exact same problem with the curd taking quite a long time to reach a clean break. I think its my rennet. Did you figure out what was causing your long floc times?
I am constantly in awe of the very first people that consumed these things, despite how funky looking and smelling they had become.