Author Topic: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use  (Read 7267 times)

Offline the big cheese

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: London
  • Posts: 84
  • Cheeses: 2
  • hobbyist
    • animator cheesemaker
Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« on: August 25, 2010, 12:27:13 PM »
Hey All
I found a number of cheese recipes that involve coating the cheese in ash. I also bought a goat cheese at the weekend that was coated in coconut shell ash. My question may be quite obvious but, is it just a matter of just heating up vegetables or in this case coconut shell until they turn to ash? Is there a curtain process or anything I should be careful of?
Thanks!
Steve


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline linuxboy

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Ukiah, CA
  • Posts: 3,986
  • Cheeses: 198
  • www.wacheese.com
    • Washington Cheese Guild
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2010, 12:40:56 PM »
To make ash you need an organic source, such as wood or vegetables, or as you mentioned, coconut shell, and you need to pyrolize it without the presence of oxygen. Practically what that means is that you need a barrel or sealed crucible, such as a sealed paint can, or some other similar device where no oxygen enters and where there is an opening for the gases to exit. And you need to heat all that up to high temps, high enough to pyrolize... something like 560-600 degrees F usually, but can be more. A fire works well as the heat source

What happens is that as the vegetable matter inside is heated, it releases water vapor (that's why you need an opening so gases escape). It also starts to release combustible gases like methane. And the carbon remains because there's no oxygen, so the carbon cannot burn. So if you heat the matter for a few hours, at the end those pieces of wood or carrots or coconut or whatever will be charcoal. Then you use a hammer mill to reduce the char to little bits.

The stuff they sell is usually ground with salt, something like 20-40% salt.

I make my own ash for my goat cheeses, so let me know if you get stuck. It's pretty straightforward, though, just need heat, a crucible/container, and some vegetable matter. The real PITA is getting everything fine enough so it is a fine dust. Easy with a mill, but not so easy otherwise.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 12:48:35 PM by linuxboy »
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline the big cheese

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: London
  • Posts: 84
  • Cheeses: 2
  • hobbyist
    • animator cheesemaker
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2010, 02:41:16 PM »
Thank's Linuxboy, a great help as always!

Just one last question... I read that ash mellows the acidity and also helps to promote molds. So am I right in saying that the actual ash does not add any flavour, its more the molds it helps develop on the cheese that adds the flavour? So does vegetable ash promote a different mold to say, coconut shell ash? Can ash be mixed to give a different flavor or is this so subtle it can not be identified?

Thanks again!

I just have one last question ion this topic, how much does this contribute to the flavour? I read that coating cheese in ash 

Offline linuxboy

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Ukiah, CA
  • Posts: 3,986
  • Cheeses: 198
  • www.wacheese.com
    • Washington Cheese Guild
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2010, 03:02:56 PM »
Thank's Linuxboy, a great help as always!

Just one last question... I read that ash mellows the acidity and also helps to promote molds. So am I right in saying that the actual ash does not add any flavour, its more the molds it helps develop on the cheese that adds the flavour?


It's a difficult answer because I want to be exact. Ash from the crucible is about 95-97% carbon. The rest are elemental salts. There are also volatiles that are present that contribute to flavor and aroma. You can increase/decrease the amount of these volatiles by 1) choosing your feedstock and 2)By controlling the temperature. I'll give you a practical example. I make a bloomy rind full lactic curd log that I don't smoke, but that has a smoky flavor. The way I do that is by taking cherry and mesquite hardwood, making ash from them at relatively low temps (about 600F), and then pulverizing the results into a powder. The resulting powder definitely has a nuanced smokey, mesquite, deep kind of flavor and aroma. But it's not dramatic, just adds a layer of "huh, what IS that coy flavor. I must eat more"

As an another example, I like a very slightly aged lactic curd set with diacetylactis and Leuconostoc with geotrichum rind coated with ash made from herbs, carrots, garlic, celery, and onions. It's my mirepoix ash.The resulting ash most definitely has kind of a earthy, French kitchen sort of smell and a slight savory note. Again, not dramatic, but a supertaster would likely notice it and the aroma comes through especially for the fresh cheese. For this ash, I dehydrate the feedstock and I very very gently make the ash, just to the point where it's finished. It doesn't need so much time and heat as wood. And in this way I preserve the higher volatiles and aromatics.

If you buy your ash, it will be flavorless. Commercial ash destined for food grade preparation is washed, usually washed repeatedly. Sometimes it's acid washed to remove those salts I mentioned, leaving 99.9%+ carbon. This really is flavorless.
Quote
So does vegetable ash promote a different mold to say, coconut shell ash? Can ash be mixed to give a different flavor or is this so subtle it can not be identified?

No, the neutralization and drying properties of ashes are the same in terms of helping molds. Yes, if you make ash yourself you can definitely control the variables to craft unique flavors, but they will be very subtle. If you buy ash, it's either random vegetable base or coconut base. Not much more out there. Some specialty producers.. I know of only 1... make a hardwood ash.

Quote
I just have one last question ion this topic, how much does this contribute to the flavour? I read that coating cheese in ash

My cheeses are all about layers and complexity and terroir. So in the grand scheme of things, not terribly much. But it's definitely a flavor tool to be used in cheesemaking.
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline clherestian

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Posts: 117
  • Cheeses: 4
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2010, 08:09:45 PM »
LB, I would like to try some of your cheeses. Do you ship?


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Alex

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Haifa,Israel
  • Posts: 732
  • Cheeses: 27
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2010, 12:22:47 AM »
LB, could you please explainn in more detail the making of ash, such as that specific container.
Alex-The Cheesepenter

Offline mtncheesemaker(Pam)

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Paonia, CO
  • Posts: 677
  • Cheeses: 29
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2010, 07:31:30 AM »
And how to prepare it without a ball mill?

Offline linuxboy

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Ukiah, CA
  • Posts: 3,986
  • Cheeses: 198
  • www.wacheese.com
    • Washington Cheese Guild
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2010, 08:01:23 PM »
LB, I would like to try some of your cheeses. Do you ship?

No, can't, not licensed, and won't be for a few more years. I've gotten in hot water enough times over the years by not sticking to the law that it's a somewhat sensitive issue with me.

Quote
LB, could you please explainn in more detail the making of ash, such as that specific container.
Here's a picture of a sample can you could use. You need a container that is completely sealed except for a small opening. A cheap, easy way to do this is with a clean paint can. Punch a hole with a nail or drill a small hole on the top. You need this hole for the gases to escape. Those gases are flammable, and they will burn. One cool trick to using that is to make a return so the gases are used as fuel and heat the wood or material inside.

Quote
And how to prepare it without a ball mill?

Easiest way at home is to go to the thrift store and buy the cheapest blender that still works. Bring it home and get an extension cord and plug it in outside. Pour in a little bit of water, about 1/3 blender full. Add in the bits of charcoal, the large bits from your crucible/can. Now put it on low to crunch up the large bits. Then put it on puree and puree for a good 5-10 minutes. You want it all to be ultra tiny. Then you're left with this sludge. I saturate the sludge so there's not too much water. But after you have sludge, you need to remove the water. A few ways to do this. You could use a filter, a fine filter. This takes time. A regular coffee filter isn't really enough, but you could try a few of them. Or you could take the sludge and let it dry out. A microwave works well. You could just boil everything. Or put it in the oven. Or the dehydrator. Or leave it out in a sun for a few weeks. You wind up with this chunk of hard ash. You can avoid this by stirring during dehydration to break up the large pieces. And then as the last step, you take the chunks and a mortar and pestle or even a potato masher, or anything like that, and break it up into a powder. It's already pureed, so it's not as difficult as it sounds. Works pretty well. Takes a while, but a whole blender full makes about a pound of powder. That powder lasts a long, long time for home cheesemaking. All of that is easier with proper equipment.

Another option is to coarse grind, smash basically, and then use a coffee grinder to make powder. I don't like to do that because the dust is fine and gets everywhere. So I like to puree with water and then dehydrate or use a proper enclosed mill.

Do as much as possible of this outside or similar space. Do not do this in an area your significant other considers important to keep clean.

It is absolutely vital to get fine dust because biting in to a sandy large piece of charcoal is not very appetizing.
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline Alex

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Haifa,Israel
  • Posts: 732
  • Cheeses: 27
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2010, 09:34:16 AM »
Thanks LB, you've been very helpfull.
Alex-The Cheesepenter

Offline linuxboy

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Ukiah, CA
  • Posts: 3,986
  • Cheeses: 198
  • www.wacheese.com
    • Washington Cheese Guild
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2010, 09:39:05 AM »
My pleasure. If you can't find a paint can, you can use one that food comes in. Like those large cans used for olives and tomatoes. Get a can opener that makes a clean opening not on top of the lid but on the side, and don't cut it all the way so it swings a little. Fill it with wood, and then put on the fire with a rock on top of the lid to keep it down. Maybe make a small opening on top just in case, if your can opener does a really god job. And let it burn on the fire. The seal should be good enough that it will be mostly anaerobic pyrolization.

Alex, for you especially as the cheesepenter because you have access to good hardwoods, what you can do is get a bunch of oak chips and then one large piece of oak. Put the chips around the large piece. Then let that go. What will happen is uneven completion. The chips will be finished while the large piece will not be. The large piece will be charred and baking on the inside. But with oak, when you char it, it first will release all these amazing butterscotch and vanillin and similar compounds. That's why they use it for wine and spirits. Anyway, the chips will be done, and then they will be smoked by the vanillins and other aromatics from the large piece. So what you wind up with is char that's double smoked and flavored after you grind the chips. You can use this in your boulette d'avesnes and make it with toasted hazelnuts and walnuts. It's amazing. Have to time is right... it's a little tricky to get the uneven completion right. Have to experiment and see how hot the fire is.

You can do all sorts of cool stuff like this wish ash, but have to make it yourself for flavor, not possible to buy.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2010, 09:45:59 AM by linuxboy »
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Alex

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Haifa,Israel
  • Posts: 732
  • Cheeses: 27
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2010, 09:42:00 AM »
Thanks again, no problem for me to get any type of tin cans.
Alex-The Cheesepenter

Offline mtncheesemaker(Pam)

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Paonia, CO
  • Posts: 677
  • Cheeses: 29
  • Default personal text
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 10:32:33 AM »
Thanks for the explanation, LB. I think I'll delegate that to DH!

Offline the big cheese

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: London
  • Posts: 84
  • Cheeses: 2
  • hobbyist
    • animator cheesemaker
Re: Ash - How To Make & Reason To Use
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2010, 10:50:16 AM »
Many many thanks.. The more I learn the more I realise how little i know  :o