Author Topic: Question concerning my first large cheese......  (Read 1688 times)

Offline Likesspace

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Question concerning my first large cheese......
« on: December 27, 2008, 07:44:31 AM »
Hi guys,
This morning I took my 5 gallon swiss out of the mold and was ready to put it into the brine batch. The only problem is that it really doesn't look as if it's ready to go into the brine.
It has a really open texture all the way around with man little fissures that have not sealed up.
Normally when I take a swiss out (after the 12 hour pressing) it is nice and smooth all the way around with a nice sealed surface, but this one is not smooth at all.
The only thing I did differently was to not use a cheesecloth in the mold. I don't know if this would make a difference but I did go ahead and wrap it in a cloth and put it back in to see if it helps.
I'm also wondering if my press weight should have changed due to the size of the wheel.
The cheese is very firm and has the elastic feel that I associate with swiss. It's just that it has those fissures where the curd has not knitted together well on the surface.
If any of you have any advice I'd love to hear it.
Right now I plan on pressing for another hour or two.....then flipping and see if there's any improvment. Hopefully this extra pressing time won't hurt the quality of the cheese.
Thanks in advance.
Dave


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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2008, 08:17:00 AM »
Morning Likesspace, I have no experience (yet) making Swiss style cheeses, but I find that if I've cooked my curds at too high a heat or for too long, they become rubbery and will be tougher to knit, even under pressure. A possibility?

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2008, 09:04:39 AM »
Cheese Head....first of all, thanks for your response.
I really don't think this is the problem since I did hit my temps right on the money and used the same cooking times that I've used for all of my other batches of swiss. One thing that I have been thinking about, might just have been the cause of this problem.
Because of the large amount of curd that I was dealing with, I had to use two seperate strainers to remove the whey. This took a little bit of extra time which might have allowed my curd to cool too much before going into the press. The recipe I use says to get the curd into the press quickly to keep them from cooling down and this is something that I've always made sure to do.
I would guess that the double strainer method used up at least an extra 5 minutes or so before getting all of the curd loaded. Now of course I could have cut this time down quite a bit but quite honestly I've been getting a little cocky about my cheesemaking since most all of them have turned out successfully. Basically I sort of drug my feet and joked around with my daughter instead of getting the curd into the press as fast as possible and there's a good chance that this is the bulk of my problem.
Oh well, live and learn.
I did just give the cheese a flip (after adding a cheesecloth) and it does have a better texture, at least on the top of the cheese. Both the bottom and the sides looked the same as before but hopefully with a few more flips this will smooth things out a little.
I'm just worried that trying to brine it right now could cause some crumbling of the surface. I have nothing to base this fear on, but I would like for it to be as smooth as possible before going to the next step.
Once again, thanks or the reply and I'll be sure to let you know how this one turns out. Regardless, it will be cheese so all is not lost.

Dave

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2008, 09:33:10 AM »
Likesspace/Dave

OK, could be slower time, but you have a much bigger batch so you would think it would retain more heat, which would offset the "delay". On brining, my experience using saturated brines and short durations, is that it makes surface initially rubbery, not crumbly. However a Feta I made did get very crumbly when I soaked it for a long time in a low salinity brine.

Other ideas are more rennet than normal or different milk (were you using your raw milk and maybe it has changed)?

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2008, 10:02:55 AM »
Cheese Head,
You might have something with the additional rennet. I usually use 1/4 tsp. for a two gallon batch but I upped this to a little over a 1/2 tsp. for this five gallon batch. I guess it is possible that the additonal rennet caused this problem.
As for the milk.......
I'm stuck in the world of store bought milk. I used my usual brand although today I'm trying a new brand with a Stilton.
The heck of it is, I'm located right in the middle of dairy country (southern Illinois) but have not been able to purchase raw milk for my cheese. The local dairymen are afraid to sell to an individual even though Illinois law states that they can, as long as I bring my own containers.
I do have two more dairies to try but have not yet done it. Both are old family friends who might just be able to come through for me. I do get a good curd from the store bought milk but I'm sure I'm sacrificing flavor potential by not using raw.
Anyway, I'm going to let this cheese press for a few more minutes and then give it a brine bath and see what happens.
The worst thing that can happen is it doesn't turn out as well as I'd like but either way it will still be cheese. :-)

Have a great weekend.
Dave


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Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2008, 01:18:27 PM »
Dave, Wayne and I have talked about this extensively and we've come to the conclusion that the pressure (pounds of force) giving for recipes are for 4" wheels. When going up from that you have to figure out the actual pounds per square inch. So for a 4" wheel it's 2 * 2 (radius squared) * 3.15 (Pi) = 12.6 square inches. For a wheel pressed at 20 pounds of force: 20/12.6 = 1.59 pounds per square inch. If you're using the new mold 8" in diamter: 4 * 4 * 3.15 = 50.4 sq. in. ; then you have to just keep uping the weight on a calculator until you get the same pounds per square inch as the original recipe. For this large mold and 20 pounds of force from the original recipe you'll need 80 pounds (weight) to press this cheese, now you see why I build a press with a pneumatic cylinder, don't even ask the pressures I have to press for 50 pounds of force on large wheels of cheese. I might just have to run my truck over it.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2008, 02:07:10 PM »
Cartierusm....
I had to read your post a couple of times but I do see what you are saying. I think I'll give this another try next weekend with the added weight and see how it goes.
One in the brine the cheese did start looking a little better but it's not smooth. What concerns me the most is that during the sweating phase, I'll probably have to do a lot of work to try and keep mold from forming in the cracks. I'll also probably end up having to cut small pieces out of the surface of the cheese since no amount of salt or vinegar rubbing will get all of the mold.
Even though you are not supposed to, I do wax my swiss. Trying to keep the proper humidity is a pain and this makes things much easier. The key is making  sure there is no mold on the cheese before waxing so I usually end up doing a little surface cutting anyway.
If you don't mind, I would like to copy your information about pressing and post it on the other forum as well. This might just help some of the other cheesemakers who are struggling with this problem.
Let me know if you'd rather I not do this.
Thanks a lot for your help.

Dave

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2008, 03:05:32 PM »
No, I don't mind. I'm one of those people that's an informer. I enjoy helping people and getting rid of disinformation.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2008, 04:12:56 PM »
Cartierusm....
One thing I have been thinking about (and was also mentioned by another poster on the other site) is that when I switched from a 4" wheel to a 6" wheel, I did continue to use the exact same pressing weights without any problem.
Even though the difference betwen 4" and 6" is not as great as the move to an eight inch mold, you would think that there would be some loss of quality.
I'm now wondering if my problem might have been in not getting the weight distributed evenly.
If you've ever done a swiss you know that the curd is certainly not the same as say a Gouda. With my 6" molds, I could barely fit a two gallon Gouds curd into the mold but with a swiss I could easily fit a three gallon curd.
Well because of this, I had to place a kitchen bowl on the top of the follower so that my press had something to rest on. Without this bowl, the pressing board would simply have been sitting on the mold sine the follower was well below the top of the mold.
What I'm thinking is this:
Because this bowl sat on the very center of the follower, the full pressure might never have reached out to the edges of the cheese. In the center the curd knitted together really well, yet outside this center part it didn't knit nearly as well. I'm wondering if a need to make a thick wooden block that covers the entire surface of the follower so that the pressing weight is distributed more evenly.
Please let me know your thoughts on this. I changed so many things while making this cheese (higher culture and rennet amounts, new forming mold, no cheese cloth in the press, direct heat cooking, etc) that I'm not sure what has caused this.
On the bright side, once I removed this cheese form the brine, it is nice and elastic and is a very nice wheel. Now if I can just get it through the sweating stage without excessive mold problems, I think this will turn into a very nice swiss.
Thanks for all of your help so far (and thanks to everyone who has responded).

Dave

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2008, 05:17:54 PM »
Depending on the follower of the mold, most mold followers can be pressed from the center, they are made pretty sturdy and shouldn't have that much flex. Can you post a pic of the mold and follower?

I hate to say it but it could be the direct heating. Scalding the milk affects the final outcome. How are you heating it, on a stove top? What is the outside diameter of the pot you're using? I believe you bought a 5 1/2 gallon pot? If so it wouldn't be hard to construct a double boiler. Find something heat resistant a couple blocks of wood, wood is an excellent insulator and won't burn because it's in water, to prop up the pot and find anything metal to put the pot in, check goodwill (maybe not in your town) or thrift stores, or a large deep baking pan. Almost anything metal will work, aluminum, steel, because it's not touching the milk. Even a couple of inches of water with suffice and it's buffering the amount of heat that gets transfered to the pot.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2008, 07:48:18 PM »
I do have a large enamaled pot that I checked tonight. It is big enough to act as a double boiler and your advice on pieces of wood should work perfectly.
I felt really good about the temps, during the making of this cheese, but that doesn't mean that everything was perfect. I think the next time I try this I will use your advice and give the double boiler method a try.
As for the mold....it's the exact same mold  you used on your parmesan. Instead of buying from the dairy Connection, I got mine from New England cheese making supply. I looked at both sites before purchasing this mold and they looked the same and had the same product description so your advice concerning the follower should be right on the money.
Like I said, the next time I'm going with indirect heat to see if this solves the problem. My entire family loves swiss so this is a recipe I do often.
Thanks again for your help.

Dave

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2008, 08:20:26 PM »
I'm a freak for fondue, so swiss is good.

I didn't see the mold on New England Cheese when I first looked, but that's where I got my mold from in 2001.

Dave, it has nothing to do with watching your temps, if you don't constantly stir during heat up the milk on the bottom with scorch for sure. When you take a reading with a thermomter next time measure the milk 1" down and all the way to the bottom, with out touching the bottom, you could have as much as 5 degrees difference. Temp is a funny thing. I use a 36" long Stainless Steel Probe Labrotory grade, only because I have it for wine making and other brewing.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2008, 09:42:45 PM »
Cartier, FYI, there was some talk & recipes on it here ;).

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Question concerning my first large cheese......
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2008, 01:32:50 AM »
Sorry CH, I live in the now, I don't look back...LOL. Thanks. I think I remember my mom making fondue when I was a wee lass for parties. I got a pot about 8 years ago...fondue rocks. I love the mystery meatball, that's raw meat balls with a chunk of cheddar in the center and you fry it in oil. I almost always have an oil fondue and a cheese.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.