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.