Author Topic: Camembert Swelling  (Read 1129 times)

Offline vavroom

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Camembert Swelling
« on: June 13, 2010, 02:21:23 AM »
Well, I'm not sure what to do with my second batch of camembert...  I threw out the 1st batch. 2nd batch is doing the same thing, sooo. Not sure.

Using the same recipe that was used on the 1 day workshop I attended (http://en.wheelinggourmet.com/blog/attending-cheesemaker-for-a-day-workshop/ ), getting the same result both times.

The very first camembert we had done during the workshop did not behave that way. The two batches I've done myself are (ok, I think I'm repeating myself now...)

What is happening is that there is swelling, like they are producing gas. Which I wouldn't expect from camembert (or perhaps I *should* expect it?). There is a slight amonia smell, but I read elsewhere here I shouldn't worry about that. Ok.

Photos aren't showing the swelling, so not uploading. The moment I touch the cheese, it seems to break the skin enough to let out the gas and it "deflates".

I probably should give more data about aging temperature, times, etc.  But I managed to spill milk all over my notes, and the ink went blerch!

So, there you go! Tall order, figuring out what I could have done wrong, based on next to no information at all :D Any thoughts?
Nic
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 03:45:34 AM »
Can you take photos that show it? Camembert can be a bit pesky and they are very prone to contamination during fabrication. Baking bread in the same kitchen or using knife that wasn't sanitized after using it for other foods can be enough to make it catch yeast infection. Aging conditions can cause it too - especially if too hot or too humid (90%RH is good to start with. 100%RH is too much. Did you get water beads all over your aging container? If you did, did you wipe them off?)
And last but not least, milk quality. Was this fresh milk? raw? homogenized or non-homogenized? How old was it when you made the cheese? Sometimes the feed of the cows can cause this too. Cows that don't graze much and are on cheaper diet of corn and silage tend to have gas. You are replicating what's happening in their stomach inside the cheese.

Does it smell ok? or like ammonia?

Offline MarkShelton

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2010, 03:50:25 AM »
I've had failed attempts at camemberts, but swelling is new to me. It could very well be contamination with some kind of yeast or other (undesirable) bacteria. Mostly, my camembets failures have been due to excessive ammonia smell/taste
I am constantly in awe of the very first people that consumed these things, despite how funky looking and smelling they had become.

Offline mtncheesemaker(Pam)

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2010, 09:22:12 AM »
Is it actual swelling or more like the skin is detached? How old was the cheese when this happened?
Pam

Offline vavroom

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2010, 04:02:47 AM »
Thanks for the replies all.

Yoav, been hyper careful to sterilise all utensils, hands, etc during cheesemaking process. No formation of waterbeads inside the container, although it wasn't dry either (FWIW, the house this morning was 6C and 96% humidity inside, but that wasn't in the cheese container ;) ). Milk was homogenised, fresh.

Pam, definitely swelling from inside, gas development inside the cheese, but more pronounced at the skin. Started happening about 2 weeks in.

I've wrapped them and put them in the fridge. I'm prepared to throw them out later on, but I'll check and see what the heck is going on first.

As an aside, I just cracked open the very first one I made and it was YUMMM. Will be blogging about it tomorrow
Nic
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2010, 11:44:04 AM »
If you rule out sanitation and cross contamination (can be attributed to other things in the air too by the way) and your milk was fresh and well kept (still had 7-10 days remaining so you know it was milked and pasteurized in the past 4-5 days), than the next thing to look at would be animal feed, ripening bacteria, aging conditions.

Animal feed can seriously affect gas buildup in cheese. If you know the farmer (or have on the milk package an email address for the farm or milk co-op) than ask them simply what their cows eat.  If this is supermarket milk than it's very likely that the cows are on cheap feed of silage and corn and they don't graze much. This could be a reason for gas.  As for milk starters - some mesophilics produce more gas than others. This is usually from starters that are meant to develop eyes in the cheese later. This should be minor, unless you added something crazy to your milk like Shermanii that's meant for Swiss cheese. You say your house is 6C/96%RH which is better than an aging container... (how on earth do you maintain such high humidity with such cold air? Rain? Humidifier? The dew point of the air at this temp should be rather low), it seems like your aging conditions are okay but - - when you initially drained the Camembert (before putting it in an aging container at a cool place), was it draining in a hot kitchen or other warm room?

A couple of weeks ago I had an issue with over-active yeast and rennet in Crottin that was in an 80F room which was too hot (mind you, I let the milk ripen for 18 hours and drain the Crottin in the room for 48 hours thereafter). The result was a fluffy, airy, slightly bulged Crottin which turned into an aged semi-soft goats cheese with many eyes. Wasn't a proper Crottin but some other very tasty creature.

I would pose a direct question to Alex, Francois and Linuxboy. Alex is very good with Camemberts and young cheeses, Francois is a professional and Linuxboy is an encyclopedia of cheese biology... I also suggest you post a photo. Hard to do cheese forensics from text alone.

Offline vavroom

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2010, 04:32:55 PM »
As I said earlier, the photos didn't show the bulging, and the moment I tried to move the cheese to take a better photo, it just disappeared.

There may be contamination from the air. Definite possibility.

The culture is the same that was used for the first cheese, which didn't have problems. Unfortunately, it was sold as a "brie/camembert" culture mix, and I'm not sure what is in it! Not buying from them again :D

As for the house. It's Winter here, the ground is clay, it's been pouring with rain, and the only thing between us and the wet clay is about 75cm of space and 2cm hardwood floor! We wish it weren't the case!!! Temps go up throughout the day. And we do get condensation, have to open windows and doors to air it all up. Not healthy for humans! :)

Cheese are wrapped now. We'll see what happens in a few weeks :)
Nic
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2010, 11:00:37 PM »
I believe these mixes are one part dry calf rennet, one part Penicilum Candidum and one part Geotrichum Candidum. My problem is that these packages are always mysterious, Buy and mix your own cultures and you will have far greater control over your cheese character and quality. (You'll probably save money too). Try different strains and compare the results until you find your favorite combo. 

Cheese is a living ecosystem where different bacterias compete over nutrients just like in any other food chain scheme on the planet. The bacteria that eats more is the one that multiplies faster and the competing bacteria eventually die off in starvation. It's part of the safety miracle of cheese and why it's not just spoiled milk but rather something very controllable and safe. We decide which bacteria to inoculate into the milk first, we then switch it on and off by controlling temp/humidity/acidity conditions or by adding friendly bacteria. It is possible that your "cheap Camembert mix" actually did its job perfectly by over-growing and starving off the competing contaminating bacteria that caused the bulging.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2010, 11:10:37 PM by iratherfly »

Offline vavroom

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2010, 03:04:05 AM »
I'm back! After an injury in the work toilets/shower combo (someone took a shower and didn't bother to dry the floor), I spent a day in hospital, with "only" soft tissue injuries. That said, when you have soft tissue injuries to your shoulder and you use your arms to propulse yourself... Wellllllll. Back to cheese :)

I purchased the culture mix, not knowing better. I don't think it's a cheap mix, but I do dislike not knowing for sure what's in. It'll get used, but I ain't buying mixes ever again :) I don't think it has rennet in it, as their camembert/brie recipe calls for using rennet.

The cheeses haven't bulged back since wrapping and putting in fridge. There may be hope yet. If it's not camembert, it just might be eatible cheese anyway :)
Nic
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Camembert Swelling
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2010, 06:57:35 PM »
Vavroom, I am happy you are OK! Sounds like quite an accident you've had!

I am in agreement... you need to know exactly what's in your mix so that you can replicate your recipe later if these guys are no longer in business, or if you even plan on giving your improved recipe to others. It takes a short break in between cheese to all of a sudden not be sure which culture you've used "that one time when you had a really great batch".


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