Author Topic: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe  (Read 1172 times)

Offline Likesspace

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Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« on: January 10, 2010, 08:34:13 PM »
Hi guys,
Today I wanted to try something different.
For the past several weeks I've been making nothing other than Gouda, Baby Swiss and Cheddar cheese.
Well after getting some input from Linuxboy, (and doing some reading on my own), I decided to try to build my own recipe for Monterey Jack style cheese.
Well I don't know exactly what went wrong but this cheese did not turn out like I had hoped.
My initial plans were to drain at ph 6.2 and to salt at ph 6.15. I would then be ready to hoop and begin pressing at ph 6.0.
From the first I saw a very rapid ph drop.
I don' t have my notes in front of me but at the time of cutting the curd I knew it would be very difficult to hit the markers I had set.
I used 1/4 tsp. of MA starter culture on this cheese, for a 4 gallon batch. I've found that MA culture is a very quick acidifier but sheesh....this sucker was really cooking along.
Well because the cheese was developing so much acid I had to cut my cook time very short (about 15 minutes into the 45 minute cook) to have any hope at all of hitting my drain Ph marker. Because of this the curd was not nearly as hard and springy as it should have been and therefore still held a LOT of whey.
My "off the cuff" solution to this problem was to drain the whey to 1" above the curd and add cold water to wash the whey off of the curd. I read about this on Dixon's web page and figured it would reduce the amount of lactose available to the culture.
After going back and reading, Dixon's site said to add enough cold water to reduce the temperature of the curd to 86 degrees but I actually took it down to 80 degrees.
I then drained the cheese, added my salt and peppers and hooped it up.
The curd was SOFT and had a LOT of whey left in it.
I started out pressing lightly (about 2 p.s.i.), and am currently pressing at about 7 p.s.i., 4 hours into the press.
They whey P.H. right now is measuring at about 5.8 - 5.9 so I'm hoping that it doesn't drop too quickly from here on out.
I'm still getting quite a bit of whey off of the curd and plan on pressing for the next 12 hours to see what happens.
My question(s) are this:
First of all, did I do the right thing in washing the curd for this type of cheese? It's all that I could think of to slow down the acid production before salting and most importantly, slow down the acid production while in the press.
Secondly, should I drop this wheel into a brine solution tomorrow morning before I head off to work?
I added 3 ounces of fine flake cheese salt to the curd of a 4 gallon batch, but do you think this will require additional salt, to stop the culture activity, before the cheese drops below P.H. 5.1 - 5.0?
I'd really like to save this cheese if at all possible, (probably a lost cause), so any advice anyone can give would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Dave


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 09:16:35 PM »
Well Dave ...

If I read this right - you cut 15 minutes off your cook time because the acid was developing to fast?
I believe you should have rasied the temperature slightly. Only a few degrees will do it for a mesophilic cheese to slow it down. This would have also given you more time to properly cook the curds.

Did you add salt before draing all the whey and between the layers as you packed the curds in the mold? The salt will help drain the whey from the curds as well as flavor them.

Start lightly. If you have a lot of whey do not over press! This will not drain whey faster but it can make little whey pockets for your whey to hide in that will not drain away. These curds will hold a lot of whey which could end up souring your cheese.

I would press lightly (3 psi) over night check the cheese in the morning if it's still squishy continue pressing until you get home. Brine later.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 04:56:35 PM »
Debi.
Thanks for the information.
I acutally had to cut 30 minutes off of my cook time and still just barely made the Ph marker at drain. Of course the curd was a lot more soft than it should have been because of this.
I did go ahead and leave the cheese in the press this morning and am not expecting much when I get home tonight. I'd just about bet that when I test the finished wheel I will see a Ph in the 4.8 - 4.9 range (possibly lower).
The cheese did firm up a lot by the time I went to bed last night, (after about 6 hours of press time) but it was also still losing some whey. I'm convinced that the wheel itself will be fine, but the cheese will probably be pretty darn nasty both in taste and texture.
I guess that time will tell what I've made but it will not be Monterey Jack.
This one will either have to be used in cooking or possibly as salad crumbles if it's not too sour.
Thanks again for your suggestions and I hope your week is going well.

Dave

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 06:41:52 PM »
Well, I just checked the Ph of the wheel, (at the 24 hour mark), and it's just as I expected. The cheese tests at 4.94 which will ensure something MUCH different than Monterey Jack and probably something much different than cheese.
Man, I really hate screwing up like this. It's just plain and simple sloppiness on my part.
I knew not to go by time concerning the ripening period but instead to keep an eye on what my cheese was doing. I instead just blindly let it ripen for an hour and by that point I was WAY behind schedule on every other part of the make.
Oh well, live and learn. I guess it will turn out to be something but whether or not I can stand to eat it, (or even have it in the house), remains to be seen.

Dave

Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 06:56:37 PM »
I think Deb's advice is spot-on.  Rushing to hit markers is not a good way to go.  In a  situaiton like this you are better off raisign the temp to kill off bacteria then prolonging cook to squeeze some more whey out.  If you are careful, and lucky, you can even out the problem and get something pretty close to what you were aiming for.  This is where the experience comes in, as any deviation in the process needs to be evened out and that takes time to learn how each change affects the rest of the process.

Your only hope now is to age it for 3 years and hope the pH comes back up.


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 08:05:31 PM »
I know how important it is to hit your markers when making cheese but you have to cook the curds first or it really won't matter.

In the event that this happen again and we all get busy with things in between it might happen just remember:

raising the temperature will slow down the acidity before pressing and cooling will lower it after pressing. Adding a bit of salt to the curds early will also.

lowering the temperature will increase acidity before pressing and pressing it longer will also increase acidity.
You can also pile the curds in a stack like cheddar to increase acidity.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 11:04:52 PM »
A couple of caveats though.

Raising the temperature probably works best for mesophillic cheeses. Thermophiles like warmer temperatures and may become more aggressive.

As Francois said, the goal is to actually kill off SOME of the bacteria to slow down acid production. So if you are cooking curds at 90F, then raising the temp 2 or 3 degrees might make things worse. I have never had to do this so I don't have direct experience, but I suspect that you need to get a meso up to 104-105F (or a little higher) fairly quickly to see a dramatic benefit.
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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2010, 11:05:07 PM »
Debi,
Thanks for taking the time to offer your advice.
I did know that raising temp would help to stall the bacteria, but I sort of panicked when I saw what was happening. It was then that I remembered Peter Dixon's washing step and figured this would reduce the amount of lactose available to be used as food. It sounds as if I did exactly what I should not have done.
I'll let you in on a little secret.....it's not the first time I've done that. :)
I will say that I didn't know that with extended aging that a cheese could possibly recover from this kind of mistake. Thanks for that information Francois.
Now if this were a large wheel (and one that I thought had a chance) I might just give that a try but it's only a 4 gallon batch and my cave space is limited so I guess I'll probably just give it a taste in a couple of months and probably end up pitching it.
Again, I appreciate the advice and insight you both have given me.
I guess it's back to the drawing board on this one.
I would like to ask what I should have done differently on this cheese...
I started the cheese at 90 degrees......added 1/4 tsp. of MA culture.....let ripen for 1 hour and then proceeded from there.
By the time I had cut the curd the Ph was already dropping rapidly but I can't believe that 1/4 tsp. was too much culture for a 4 gallon batch.
Did I ripen too long before adding rennet? Every recipe I looked at said to ripen for one hour but I know I should have been checking the Ph along the way.
Anway, if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them.
I love pepper jack cheese but this is one cheese that I suck at making.
Thanks,

Dave

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2010, 11:07:37 PM »
Thanks for that info., Sailor.
I did once raise the temp on a cheddar because I was building acid too quickly and it did work. That was last year though, and I didn't even consider it on this cheese. Once panic sets in, I'm not usually very analytical. :-)

Thanks again

Dave

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Monterey Jack (peppers added) disaster....maybe
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 04:04:51 PM »
Sailor
While a mesophilic culture will respond quickly to a variance of only a few degrees a thermophlic culture will obviously require a bigger push for the same result upwards of 5 to 10 degrees but it will still work.


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