Author Topic: Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk  (Read 1265 times)

Offline kstaley

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Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk
« on: February 16, 2011, 05:04:47 PM »
Hi ...
I have a few questions for anyone who is very familiar with making bloomy cheeses.  I've made cow's milk camembert-style cheese often at home, but I usually use extremely fresh pasteurized milk that I get from a creamery where I apprentice.  I never have any problems during the make using this milk.  I haven't been able to get this milk much this winter, so I resorted today to using creamline pasteurized milk that I can buy from a large nearby dairy.  I vowed last time I used this milk that I would never make cheese with it again because I always have problems with the setting time.  So, I wasn't surprised today that I couldn't get a very clean break until 5 hours after renneting!  I used the same recipe that we use successfully at the creamery (which tends to be a bit heavy on the meso, mold and rennet compared to other camembert recipes I've tried). Here's what happened today:

- Milk pH was 6.8, so a bit high.  Target temp was 84F ... i started at 86F to encourage acidification since the pH was on the high side
- Added MA 4001, p. candidum, GEO 17 and calcium chloride (to compensate for milk).  Due to higher than expected pH, I allowed 80 minutes of ripening time before renneting (usually, I can ripen and set simultaneously)
- pH had dropped to 6.65 after 80 minutes (within target range  of 6.5-6.6), so I added rennet
- after specified 90 minutes setting time, no clear evidence of setting ... after 2, then 3 hours ... weak set (still was consistency of thin yogurt) ... so I waited a full 5 hours
- target pH at cutting was 6.4 - 6.5, but pH of these curds was 5.6 !!
- when I finally hooped the curds, not surprisingly, I lost a lot of product in the very cloudy whey
- I will try to keep the hooped curds at about 74 F overnight (after turning a couple of times), but I suspect that my final cheeses will ripen very fast (unless I age them colder than my usual 48F) and they'll probably be too acidic

So ... should I have cut the curds sooner when pH was higher (6.4 - 6.5), even though I had an extremely weak set at that time?  Any other suggestions about how I could have compensated given the suspected poor quality of this milk?  I know, I know ... poor quality milk = poor quality cheese, but, I just had to give it one more try  :)  I did call the dairy this week to find out how much time passes between milking and bottling.  They milk the cows twice daily, deliver milk daily to their pasteurizing/bottling facility and bottle daily.  I suspect there may be some undesirable bacteria somewhere in their bottling system.  I did purchase milk that had been bottled yesterday.


Offline Oberhasli

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Re: Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 10:15:41 AM »
Hi Kstaley,

I make camembert cheese quite frequently, but I don't check pH ranges when I am making it.  So, that said, I don't think this batch could have been salvaged by cutting the curds earlier with a weak set.  I always ripen and set simultaneously.  I think if you had cut the curds with the weak set, you would still have ended up losing a lot of the product in the whey.  It is puzzling why this milk doesn't work well for cheese.  It isn't ultra-pasteurized is it?  There has been quite a bit of discussion on this site about UP milk and how hard it is to use for cheese. 

I hope your cams ripen well and taste great.

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than do nothing and risk they stay.     Anonymous

Offline kstaley

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Re: Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2011, 11:41:18 AM »
Hi Bonnie,
Thanks for your thoughts.  The milk from this dairy isn't ultra-pasteurized.  I've always been puzzled about why this milk doesn't work well given that they bottle daily.  I suspect that it is something in their bottling system that doesn't make the milk unsafe to consume, just not the best qualify for cheesemaking. I'm planning to visit the farm to see if I can get any insights,

Offline tnbquilt

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Re: Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 02:29:11 PM »
I found a milk at the grocery store that works well. I tried many that did not work, and somebody else told me that the cheap milk at the Food Depot makes the best mozzarella, so I went over there and bought some. They must not over pasteurize it. I don't know why milk that you get at the creamery wouldn't work. I do know that it was an adventure to find milk that does work.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Coagulated, Rennet, Cow - Poor Curd Set After Changing Milk
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 03:17:57 PM »
kstaley, several things can go wrong here:
  • You didn't specify how much CalCl2 you put in.  If 1/4 tsp per gal wasn't enough, try 1/2. Too much CalCl2 would make it bitter but a violent pasteurization process can really strip out all of that.
  • Pasteurization; you say it wasn't ultra-pasteurized but this behavior is a lot like ultra pasteurized milk. It may have been HTST (High Temp Short Time) which is just shy of UHT (ultra high temp - AKA ultra pasteurized) and has much of the same effect on the milk. This process kills much of the essential enzymes you need to coagulate the milk with rennet and modifies the shape of the proteins
  • pH. The biggest problem with pH and cheesemaking is actually people looking at pH readings instead of learning to look, feel and smell their milk as it has been done in the 7000 years before pH meters were invented. It's a bit like driving a car by looking at the GPS instead of the road.  pH meters are very inaccurate because you constantly need to calibrate them and calibrate the reading per temperature which takes up important milk ripening time and may contaminate the milk with pH liquids. It's okay to sample some curd or whey in a pH meter for consistency and quality control but don't drive your cheesemaking based on pH reading.  I suggest that on your next batch turn off the pH meters completely and see how you feel.
  • Rennet: How much did you use? Are you using single or double strength? Animal or vegetable? Try using double strength calf rennet
  • Ripening and flocculation times: 60 minutes should be more than plenty to ripen the milk. This isn't just a matter of pH. If some acids are accelerated or over-develop because you give it too much time, they can mess up your renneting. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER rennet the curd for 5 hours.  Acidification time is the #1 factor that in the quality of your cheese. If you over-do it, you will get chalky, brittle, dry cheese and molds will fail to grow on the surface so all those processes you rely on to create cheese texture would fail. If only some molds and enzymes are at work and others fail than the entire balance of flavors, textures and acidity is going to be out of whack. Use the floc multiplier method. Camembert Floc multiplier is x6. It is better to cut poorly coagulated curd than to cut over acidified curd. If you fail to get a clean break at the x6 multiplier than wait 10-15 min more. If you still fail than you can rest assure than 5, 10 or 16 hours won't change that. Additionally you should be aware that after some ripening time the curd begins to build casein walls that trap moisture inside and the cutting of the curd is no longer as effective as it was before.
  • Ripening bacteria; the MA4001 is great for Tomme and other harder cheeses. I would suggest to use MM100 or even Flora Danica for Camemberts.
  • If you are afraid of over-acidification during the draining of the hoops at room temp overnight - move your hoops and draining platform to your cave! This way you can drain them at 55F - 60F even for 24+ hours
  • Milk quality: milk pH changes dramatically during the season. It's normal. Additionally, winter feed for many places isn't like the summer feed. Cows that cannot graze are often fed grains and silage and this seriously effects the milk quality and makeup. It doesn't respond the same. Be prepared for that.
  • One last thing to look at is cleaning supplies or sanitizers. Often people leave too much traces of detergent or sanitizing acid on the inside of the vat or pot and they really can destroy your milk. Detergents are designed to break down enzymes and proteins and they go right to work on your milk...
I hope this helps. If you are not familiar with how floc multipliers work (also called 'the spinning bowl method' by some here) please let me know and I will explain.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 03:23:48 PM by iratherfly »