Author Topic: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons  (Read 9851 times)

Offline acstokes

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Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« on: September 07, 2010, 11:11:20 AM »
I am a newbie and I just made my first cheese, a gouda. It was a 4 gallon recipe that I followed in every respect except I used 2 gallons of whole milk instead of 4, so I cut most ingredients in half. Everything went well and my 2 lbs. of cheese looks great. I suppose in a few weeks I'll know for sure when I cut into and taste it. The only thing that went wrong was I dropped my Extech pH meter and broke the probe so I was unable to test the pH. I hope my pH was okay. I plan to try making more gouda as soon as I get a replacement probe for my meter.

I do have a few questions though:
- After pressing, I let my cheese dry to the touch which took two days. I then vacuum-wrapped it using my Foodsaver and placed it in my temperature-controlled fridge at 52F. If vacuum-bagged, is it necessary to worry about humidity?
- Then today, I read that vacuum bagging shouldn't be used to age cheese, but only to store cheese after it's aged. Is this true and do I need to wax it instead?
- How critical is time and weight when pressing? In researching gouda recipes, I read many variations in weights and times for pressing. I used 8, 25, & 50 lbs. for a 4" mold. All I can say for now is it seems about right.

Thanks for your advice.

Fred



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Offline Alex

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2010, 11:36:23 AM »
I wax my cheeses but I know there are members who age their cheeses in vac pack.
Something else is bothering me, what about salting? You should float the cheese in salt brine before drying it.
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Offline acstokes

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2010, 01:21:23 PM »
Quote
Something else is bothering me, what about salting? You should float the cheese in salt brine before drying it.

Alex,
I did brine it. I just didn't mention in my post.

Thanks,

Fred

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2010, 01:25:48 PM »

- After pressing, I let my cheese dry to the touch which took two days. I then vacuum-wrapped it using my Foodsaver and placed it in my temperature-controlled fridge at 52F. If vacuum-bagged, is it necessary to worry about humidity?
No, just temp
Quote
- Then today, I read that vacuum bagging shouldn't be used to age cheese, but only to store cheese after it's aged. Is this true and do I need to wax it instead?
Where did you read that? NECS site? That's wrong; IIRC I've addressed this here before. Maybe it was another site. The cheese will taste differently when waxed vs vac bagged vs natural rind, but it will most definitely age.
Quote
- How critical is time and weight when pressing? In researching gouda recipes, I read many variations in weights and times for pressing. I used 8, 25, & 50 lbs. for a 4" mold. All I can say for now is it seems about right.

Critical for what outcome? For avoiding mechanical openings you need to press gouda under whey. If you just want the curd to knit and don't mind mechanical openings, so long as the pH is right and temp is right, it will knit under its own weight. A cheese press is one of the most unnecessary tools in cheesemaking for many cheese styles for home cheesemaking. Only useful for achieving commercial results or for making milled curd/dry salted cheese.
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Offline acstokes

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2010, 07:59:54 PM »
Linuxboy,

Thanks for answering my questions. Here's the answer to your question.
Quote
Where did you read that? NECS site? That's wrong; IIRC I've addressed this here before. Maybe it was another site. The cheese will taste differently when waxed vs vac bagged vs natural rind, but it will most definitely age.

Cheesemaking.com is where I read the statement. Here's the link: http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php?action=post2
Quote
10. Can I vacuum pack my cheese instead of waxing it?
Vacuum packing is only good for storing cheese. It stops the culture and keeps ripening from happening. For aging, we recommend either waxing or keeping the rind natural.

Fred



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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2010, 08:10:55 PM »
Yep, that's dead wrong. Vacuum sealing prevents ammonia evaporation (even then not always, depends on the type of membrane, you can make selective membranes from Nylon/HDPE/PP), and prevents proper oxygen exchange, and water loss. So the types of higher order volatiles the cheese produces will be different. Sort of like aging wine in a stainless tank vs a barrel vs a permeable plastic barrel. I've had amazing wines done with all three methods, and I've had bad wines from all three.

Consequence of lack of water loss is you have higher water, which leads to accelerated maturation, all other things being equal.
Consequence of lack of ammonia evaporation is excess ammonia buildup, and resultant conversion to odd smells, which require time to dissipate after the cheese is opened.
Consequence of lack of oxygen exchange and natural breathing is poor formation of flavor nuances.

Doesn't mean vac bagging isn't viable. One approach is to age naturally at first, then vac bag. Cheddar in 40 lb blocks is vag bagged and aged at 5-7C all the time, even good award-winning cheddar.
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Offline acstokes

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2010, 08:26:31 PM »
Great info! Thanks again!

Fred

Offline FarmerJD

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2010, 10:02:44 PM »

Quote
Consequence of lack of ammonia evaporation is excess ammonia buildup, and resultant conversion to odd smells, which require time to dissipate after the cheese is opened.


Ahhhh. Now I get it. This has always puzzled me. That makes perfect sense with my aging in vac bag experience. Everyone of them smells the same when it comes out and then the smell dissipates a day or two later. Life is an education. Thanks Linux.

Offline Susan

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2010, 08:01:48 PM »
Reviving this old link as it was referred to in a recent post. It seems that some of the issues with vacuum sealing could be solved or at least improved by opening up these cheese at intervals (?monthly), allowing them to breathe, dry if needed, then resealing.  Does that make sense or a I way off base?
Susan

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2010, 11:21:34 PM »
That's true, that would help release the ammonia. Not sure it's worth the hassle, though, when making a lot of cheese. Aging cold helps with the slower flavor development, too.
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Offline Susan

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2010, 05:49:20 AM »
That's true, that would help release the ammonia. Not sure it's worth the hassle, though, when making a lot of cheese. Aging cold helps with the slower flavor development, too.

I'm not sure what you mean by that and how it relates to vacuum sealing.  When you say 'aging cold' are you referring to the cheese cave at about 50-55F?

One of my first cheeses (just over 3 weeks old) has a bit of whey around the cheese now.  It seems I should at least open that one.  Dry.  Reseal.  Won't that make it bitter?  Maybe for those that stay dry I'll leave them alone.
Susan

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 07:00:24 AM »
By cold I meant 40-45F. Colder temp = slower flavor development = less gas production. I meant that if you age colder than usual cave temps, that it would take care of some of the vac bag drawbacks, but does take more time.

If you have whey, yes, open it and let it air out and paper towel off the water. Extra water in the bag is not good.
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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 12:19:02 PM »
Gents, good discussion!

linuxboy, thanks for your thoughts on pressing, I always wondered why I pressed my washed curd cheeses (Gouda, Edam etc) with less weight-pressure than others and yet I was happy with the result.

Also, I've read that if vacuum wrapping washed curd type cheeses after air drying and thus ripening-aging in vacuum plastic then:
  • The water content should be 2-3% slightly lower than for air drying to account for less/minimal vaporization than with artisan oiled or commercially coating with lower permeable latex.
  • Aging in vacuum wrapping at normal ~14C / 57F will result in "ill balanced poor flavour and consistency" and thus you should age at lower than 6-8C / 43-46F although you will still get a somewhat flat flavour.
  • That commercially a different low CO2 producing starter culture is used.
I've just bought a vacuum bagger (wife has hidden it until Christmas :-\) and I'm currently ripening/aging my recent Gouda's with oiled rinds and plan to vacuum bag for long term 1-2 year aging.

Any thoughts/advice (from linuxboy or anyone) on above and after oiled rind aging when to vacuum bag ie 1-2-4 months appreciated.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 12:30:29 PM »
Yep, John, good pointers on all counts. Both studies and my own anecdotal experience support what you said.

I would natural age minimum 1 month, preferably 2. Many changes happen especially between days 45 and 60 at 50F aging. I would consider 2 months about optimum, and then vac pac and slowly age at ~40F for years.
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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2010, 01:44:18 PM »
Many thanks!

Good news about long term aging in vacuum bags at ~40F is that I can do that in back of larger cooler kitchen fridge.