Author Topic: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum  (Read 3610 times)

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2009, 08:59:18 PM »
I've long ago given up waiting. If this batch is a test batch, designed merely to test production methods and curd knitting, i see no reason not to cut it open soon,  if not now.


You can always wax, or otherwise seal  the wedges.

Looks great BTW.  I do see the usual mottled surface.  I really wish i knew what that was....

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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 09:01:40 PM »
I think I know what you mean about the springiness. Sometimes reminds me of those fancy memory foam beds. Kind of marshmellowy yet firm. I think it's neat. I am easily amused by the magic of cheese. Don't cut it to soon we all need to sit and watch the screen to see what new developes.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2009, 08:14:39 PM »
Well guys (and gals), I took Wayne's advice and cut into this wheel earlier this evening. As he said, since this is a test cheese there was really no sense in waiting. Besides the wheel was nice and dry to the touch so it was ready to be put in the cave or vacuum bagged anyway.
Basically I can't see any benefit using the amount of vacuum I was able to put on this cheese using the space bags.
Now that doesn't mean that there aren't benefits to pressing under a vacuum, but with the slight amount I was able to draw it just really didn't seem to do much good.
This cheddar looks pretty much like all of the others I've made this year. Not that it's a bad cheese, but it's just not the nice closed knit that I wanted to see.
It does slice easily and although it is dry it has a pretty nice, soft texture. It will probably turn out to be a good cheese but again not what I had hoped for.
Anyway, here's the photos. It certainly didn't help that I used a serated knife to cut the wheel, since it left those funky marks on the cheese. Also, as stated in an earlier post I'm just not much of a photographer. Regardless I think you can see that it's not what I was hoping for but it was a fun experiment to try.
Hope everyone is having a good week.

Dave

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2009, 08:54:54 PM »
okay I see a few tiny holes but maybe they will go away with aging. I had to magnify the pictures to see them. Everything will shrink some don't get to discouraged.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2009, 09:09:29 PM »
Debi, thanks for the encouragement.
I'm really not discouraged but I was hoping for a better result. As I said, this is pretty much the same result I've seen in the past so I don't think that this is the answer for any of us.
So...
Here is a question for Francois (or any others that might have insight):
You mentioned that commercial cheese factories use a very high pressing weight for a short amount of time.
Can you give me some idea of what p.s.i. we are talking about here and also the amount of pressing time that is used?
Do they hit the wheel with an enormous amount of weight right from the first seconds of pressing or do they gradually increase the pressure over time?
I would be willing to experiment with increased pressing force but I do not want to go to such an extreme force that it will damage my press or my mold.
I've always pressed lightly at first and then gradually increased the pressure as the whey expelled. If I can get away with going to say the equivalent of 300 lbs. of force from the very first I would be willing to give it a try. I have had my press up to this amount of pressure but I've only tried this at the very end of the pressing cycle.
By the way, I use a 7.5" Tomme mold and 300 lbs. is a LOT to put on a cheese this size.
I would like to try this early in the pressing cycle if you don' t feel it would trap the whey within the curd.
If you (Francois) or Linuxboy or Wayne, Debi, Sailor or any others have opinions on this idea I would really love to hear your input.
I'd really like to figure out how the commercial manufacturers get such a nice perfect curd knit.
Thanks in advance and I truly hope this experiment has been a benefit to someone else.

Dave


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2009, 09:44:40 PM »
Dave from everything I have read pressing for cheddar gong back to the late 1800's was done with less presssure for the first few minutes then increased from there. The pressure we are talking about seems to average around 2400 pounds. From what I have read in recent mass production that is limited to  around 15 minutes  for a 10 inch wheel.

Without some sort of high strength hydraulically operated presses I don't see that as possible at home. I do think your cheese is about as perfect as I have ever seen including comercially purchased cheeses. I have always found a several randon tiny holes in commercial cheddars.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2009, 11:21:07 PM »
Dave - 300 pounds on a 7.5" hoop is only 6.79 psi. Many of the sources that I have seen suggest at LEAST 10 psi if you want a closed knit. That would be the equivalent of 450 pounds on your press. Hard to achieve on a small press, but I'll bet that Carter's wonder press can easily handle that. ;) I know that 2400 pounds sounds like a huge weight, but that works out to 30 psi for a 10 inch wheel, not at all unreasonable. In her book 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, Debra Amrein-Boyes defines "Firm Pressure" as 20 to 45 psi and up.

I have posted it before, but here is my spreadsheet and a pdf that show pressing weights for various hoop sizes to achieve target psi. Just find your hoop size at the top, follow the column down to the target psi, and read the weight from the far left column.

I feel that the variable that is most neglected during pressing is temperature. We take these nice fresh warm curds, throw them in some cheesecloth and start pressing. The curds immediately start cooling down, especially with lost whey. Pressing under whey certainly helps, but even that is not enough for an overnight pressing. So, I have started wrapping a rubber seed starting/heating pad around my hoop throughout pressing. I have not tried this on a cheddar yet, but I suspect that it will help some.
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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2009, 12:12:41 PM »
Thanks for the comments Likespace, unfortunately most of my comments are useless for a home cheesemaker.

We press at 30 psi at our plant for 1-2 hours.  But our curd is preformed using a special machine that accomplishes a significant pre press.  They are large pneumatic presses with commercial molds.  Although we do use some Kadovas at 15 psi with no issues.  We use the small 1 kg molds for one product and they do blow apart sometimes but seem to last quite a while.

The big cheddar plants will press at 50 or 60 psi for only a few minutes.  They do this, again, because of the prepress.  The curd is forced into hoops through a tower that is 2-3 stories high, so the pressure is extreme.

Offline FarmerJD

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2009, 05:53:53 PM »
Francois, can you explain what you mean by pre-press? What exactly is different in what this pre-press machine accomplishes and what the main press does? I add my thanks as well to what you add here on this forum. I really appreciate your input.


I for one do not think that pressures in the 30 psi range are out of the question for home cheesemaking as long as the wheels are very small in diameter. Most small dutch presses can accomplish this.


Dave, sorry it didn't work like you wanted but it was very interesting to watch. Your cheese looks just like mine always looks. Keep at it.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2009, 06:04:37 PM »
Debi, Sailor & Francois.....thanks for all of the information.
The spreadsheet will be really handy since I usually have to calculate everything out when using a different pressing schedule. This will make it a LOT easier since all I have to do now is divide the amount of force (of my desired p.s.i.) by 5 to get the air line pressure I need. This is because my pneumatic cylinder has a force factor of 5.
I did a little math today and found that to even achieve 10 p.s.i. I would have to crank my line pressure up to 90 lbs. on a 7.5" wheel. I'm still not really comfortable taking the press to that extreme, since I've never used over 50 lbs. of line pressure before.
I'm really not concerned with the mold handling that type of pressure but I am concerned that the nut which holds the cylinder might give away. The only thing holding this nut in place is a couple of welds, one on each side.
My dad is a welder and farmer so I might have him take a look at the press to see what he thinks of it. Using hydraulics for many years I'm sure he has a pretty good feel for the amount of stress a weld can handle. I know Carter once told me that he had broken one of his presses (by taking the pressure to an extreme level) but I really don't know how much of an extreme he was talking about.
What I'm thinking now is that I might revert back to my 6" mold for a test batch.
That way I can keep the line pressure more along the lines of what I have been using and see if the results are better. I really hate the thought of going backwards yet it is probably the easiest way to test this out.
I guess if I would happen to break the press my dad could get me going again but I'm really in love with this thing and hate the thought of damaging it.
Using a 6" mold I can use 56 lbs. of line pressure to achieve 10 p.s.i..
If this shows promise then I can try upping it to say 11 p.s.i., 12 p.s.i. and so on and so forth.
Once I find a p.s.i. that works, I will at least then know what I need to work with on my 7.5" mold. Then I will just have to get up enough nerve to give that level a try.  :)
I also appreciate the advice concerning using a heating blanket to keep the curd warm. I've tried using a heat lamp but didn't have very good results with it.
I think your idea should work much better and down the road I will certainly incorporate this idea into my cheese making.
So again, I really do appreciate everyone's input and now it's back to the drawing board. I'd really like to get this figured out since I have this little problem with wanting everything to be perfect. :)

Dave


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2009, 06:11:50 PM »
Oh, I'm certainly going to keep at it Farmer!
The only problem is that the family is getting a little upset that I haven't been making anything other than Cheddar so far.
Sometime within the next couple of weeks I'm going to have to take a break and make something other than Cheddar. Maybe a Stilton, or Provolone or Camembert.
Besides, it's about time to revisit my old nemesis, the Swiss so that might be what I try.
Despite the imperfections I'm still having a blast so that's what's important. One of these days, though, I'm going to make that one wheel that will keep me bragging for years.  ;)

Dave

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2009, 09:46:05 PM »
Dave, I think you are being too hard on yourself. If the cheddar tastes good then a few imperfections are not a problem. There are a lot of things home cheesemakers just can't accomplish easily.
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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2009, 04:10:50 AM »
Virtually every commercial yellow cheese plant I have ever seen utilizes a prepress of some sort.  Prepressing is the initial knit, under whey, where the curd is matted and allowed to form under it's own hydraulic pressure.  The final result is cut out in blocks and loaded into hoops where it then goes into the final press.  You would be most fmailiar with this process by watching swiss cheese being made where the curd is allowed to mat on the bottom of the vat.  Imagine this process in a commercial plant with gigantic automated vats.  Since the system is closed, and automated, the curd can't be allowed to settle on the bottom of the vat.  Instead the curd is pumped up to the top of a pressing tower and the removed whey is pumped back in to help knit.  At the bottom of this tower is a cutter that blanks out your block size.  As the curd progresses down the tower the pressures become more extreme and this is the prepress. 

I have seen some plants with intermediate versions where the curd is pumped to another specialized vat and a pneumatic ram provdes the press.  The curd is then cut up and pressed after this.  It's hard to picture without seeing it. 

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2009, 05:21:15 AM »
I am trying to get my mind around Pre-pressing.

How can a stirred curd, or traditional cheddar cheese leverage a pre-press process when, by the time of pressing the curds have been out of the whey for a significant period of time?
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Cheddar Experiement, pressed under a vacuum
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2009, 07:50:58 AM »
Likespace, 
I think I found a couple of reasons why your experiment did not go as planned.  Sadly, I think I am one of those reasons. 

In my readings, You probably should have waited at least 2 weeks before the curds are completely knitted together. I think I advised to cut away.  (Sorry)
Second,  In looking at your setup,  I don't really see a place for whey, or air to escape to.  In other words,  there should be a reservoir, also under vacuum. that can collect whey and escaping air.

Here are some clippings from what I read.


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