Author Topic: Clover Experiment #1  (Read 1341 times)

Offline goatherdess

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Clover Experiment #1
« on: November 30, 2009, 11:03:16 AM »
One of the things I wanted to learn when I joined this forum was why some of my cheeses came out as Swiss cheeses, and why others didn't. This year I did figure out that  I can control for Swiss by opening and closing my kitchen window as I make cheese. It actually works quite reliably; open windows = Swiss cheese, closed windows = no Swiss cheese.  That means that wild proprionic bacteria is floating around in the outdoor air of my farm. But I still wondered where it was coming from, what causes it to get into the air.  I had a real "Aha!" moment when I read a post from linuxboy about the people in the Swiss alps gathering clover to make a tea to add proprionic bacteria to their cheese.  Perhaps the clover pollen?  I planted the stuff all around the house about 15 years back, so I could harvest it for tea.  So with closed windows, I wanted to see if the clover tea would make a cheese "go Swiss." I chose the Red clover, because I am already familiar with using it. (We also have several other types in the yard.)

I used fresh flower heads from the yard and put them into tepid (maybe 100o) water, and soon it smelled very much like perfume, very sweet. The buds were floating in the top if the water, so I pressed them against the sides of the bowl with a spoon to get the water all the way through them and make them sink into the water. I left the flowers in the water for about 1 hour until the smell changed from sweet to herbal. 

I used a Romano recipe because they are the ones that most often make the best Swiss holes. I added 7 oz. of strained clover water to a 2 qt. batch of Romano, at the same time I added the powdered Thermo, and used the usual waiting time before adding the rennet. 

Result:  A terrible curd set. It took forever to get a clean break, and even then it was a much softer clean break than I normally get.  I lost a lot of solids in the whey and that left me with fewer curds and a much smaller cheese after it was pressed. In hindsight, I do not know if this was because of adding too much liquid to a small recipe, or because I was working with a new bottle of rennet and hadn't yet figured out exactly the right amount to put into the cheese, or if adding that much water cooled the milk and made the Thermo culture grow slower.

I pressed the this cheese by hand under the whey in the cheesecloth before putting it into the press. I kneaded it to get out any air and pressed together the curds.  At the time to flip the cheese over in the press it stuck like glue to the cheesecloth and I had to use a second cheesecloth to put it back into the press. This cheese did NOT plump up in the way of a Swiss cheese and I do not think I will have any holes or be a Swiss. It doesn't cut open yet for another few weeks, so I am still waiting to see how it will taste. But since it didn't plump, I don't think I'll try such a light tea as an inoculant in the future.  It needs to be stronger.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Clover Experiment #1
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 09:29:24 PM »
Those things used to grow all over the farm I grew up on. I haven't seen them in years. Very nice experiment and nice play by play thank you!

Offline GBoyd

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Re: Clover Experiment #1
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 10:48:39 PM »
This is interesting.

By leaving the window open you were inadvertently introducing shermanii? This is the first time I've heard of reduced sanitation having a positive effect on the outcome.
Have you noticed any other changes in the cheese?

Maybe a potting clover plant in the kitchen could inoculate cheese with shermanii without opening you up to whatever bacteria and yeasts decide to float through the window. 


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Re: Clover Experiment #1
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 02:48:31 AM »
If the holes appear soon after the make (within 1 or 2 weeks) I doubt you are dealing with wild shermani, but rather contamination.  Shermani is quite slow and also adds a certain flavor profile.  Wild contaminates tend to produce very small holes since they have not been "bred" to produce long, constant volumes for big eyes.

Worth a shot though.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Clover Experiment #1
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2009, 02:07:01 AM »
Fascinating experiment, I wouldn't give up on it quite yet!

7oz on 2 qt is approx 12% - that sounds like an awful lot. Definitely much more that anything you would have gotten through an open window. It could have really acted on pH levels or have some accidental incompatibility with your meso or thermo.

Also leaving the blossoms at 100 degree (Celsius???) for an entire hour sounds like cooking them. This might have killed/modified whatever active enzyme that was initially helping you. Perhaps extracting in room temperature or doing a quick wilting (like when removing caffeine from tea) would do it?

Opening the kitchen's window can affect everything in a kitchen. I cannot even properly caramelize shallots when my window is open. When I make Labaneh cheese it makes the difference between mild or super tangy. When I make yogurt it changes from 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours for gelling. (which means it would be more sour) Natural air convection during prep and aging has a huge effect on the results. Are you experiencing this phenomenon year-round?