Author Topic: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!  (Read 374 times)

Offline ATasker

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I'm actually surprised I got as far as I did on my 1st attempt at a farmhouse cheddar without coming to an unexpected result!

Some of the things I know I did wrong during this process were;
- Cutting the curds uneven (Haven't got my under-strokes sorted very well yet).
- Some clumping of the curds at the bottom of the pot during scalding.
- Cloth probably not as tight as it could've been during pressing.

With all that in mind, this is what I've ended up with after 4 days of air drying. A rind has formed quite nicely on all but one surface. In the spirit of learning as much as I can, I wondered if anyone else had come across this before and had some advice for avoiding in the future?

I'm going to dry for a few more hours and then wax, and see what I end up with!

Offline Denise

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2016, 04:02:21 AM »
Looking good. A cheese for your first cheese!

Offline Stinky

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2016, 01:00:35 PM »
were you stirring constantly?
It's probably a pathogen.

Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2016, 01:20:16 PM »
Yes, stirring constantly as I was scalding the curds, however as mentioned I may not have been getting all of them and some of the smaller curds were found to be clumping at the bottom.
After milling the curds seemed relatively similar however.

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2016, 09:18:19 AM »
An excellent first cheese. As for the drying issue -- have you been flipping it every day as it dries? If not, that will account for the uneven drying.
-- Andy

Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2016, 04:50:00 AM »
I was flipping twice daily at the beginning, now to daily. It's been waxed, so we will have to wait and see what occurs in a month! Been passing the time with Halloumi and Mozerella. Definitely hooked.

Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 12:23:40 AM »
Interestingly I got a similar result making my first camembert yesterday. I'm going to try a different milk next time and see what happens. For some reason the curds don't want to knit. I've read this could be temperature or PH related. It's summer here at the moment.. so unlikely to be too cold!

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2016, 04:00:44 PM »
I see no mention of checking the pH in your posts.  Were you doing this or strictly following a recipe and going by time?  Timed recipes are only reproducible if all factors are the same:  temperature, starting pH, culture amount and viability, draining pH, etc., etc.  For whatever its worth here is how I do a cheese I've not done before: 

1.  Pick a starting recipe from a book, etc. to get the basic "bones" of the procedure down.
2.  Search for the recipe on CheeseForum in either the Wiki's or a general search.
3.  Look at the New England Cheese recipes
4.  Google search for the cheese making recipe.
5.  Read all the comments on the CheeseForum from others who've made the cheese.
6.  Refine my Excel spreadsheet started in item 1 with emphasis on putting pH goals at the various key points.

Then I make the cheese as close as possible to the recipe I've created from an amalgamation of the above recording the pH, temperatures, press weights, flip times, etc. as I go along.  (I've attached copies of my Cheese Make Logs (.xls, .xlsx) that I use.)  (Credits to whomever I stole this from!)

Doing it in an organized fashion like this allows you to check your results against "how you did it" several months prior and make any necessary adjustments.


Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2016, 12:07:03 AM »
Thanks for the solid advice. You are correct in that I've not been measuring PH, just following recipes strictly regarding time and temperature. Most starting recipes don't dip into PH measurement but the more I read the more it comes up! Will wait and see the results (only a couple of weeks more to go) and then apply this and many other learnings to the next attempt. I'll also be looking at flocculation for my next attempt as well, as it looks to be a more accurate method.

Online Kern

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 01:33:16 PM »
I'll also be looking at flocculation for my next attempt as well, as it looks to be a more accurate method.

Plus, it is ridiculously easy to do:  Just float a small plastic container on the milk after the rennet has been stirred in marking the start time.  The ending time is when the cup immediately stops moving when lightly touched.  Multiply this times the floc factor and you've got the cut time.  When the clock strikes the right time, check for a clean break and cut.  What could be easier?

The problem with recipes is that they don't account for variations in temperature, culture level, initial milk pH, etc.  Using floc time and measuring pH accurately take care of these variables. 

Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2016, 04:48:35 AM »
As with all things, we start at the beginning and learn as we go! Good news is that my Camembert is growing a lovely white mould, and I'm having another go at making a cheddar tomorrow. Really tough to not bust into this one early, but only 10 days to go.

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2016, 09:10:17 AM »
What will be the total time of aging in 10 days? Based on your earlier post, I'm guessing it will be < 2 months at that point -- ?? Depending on how truly "cheddar" this is, it may be fantastic ... or it may be disappointing. If it is the latter, seal it back up for a couple more months and try it then. Cheeses like a Lancashire, which are in the cheddar family but higher moisture, are excellent at around 6 weeks. A true cheddar, which has less moisture, requires more time to develop. My first true cheddar was very disappointing at 2 months ... and at 4 months ... but at 6 months of age, it was excellent! Now I never open a true cheddar before at least 6 months, and generally try to go longer.
-- Andy

Offline ATasker

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2016, 01:38:16 PM »
Yes, it will be about 2 months. Mostly concerned with getting a look at how it's aging so I can get a feel for the process and also if I can learn anything to adjust.

Second attempt yesterday has yielded similar results in terms of knit, although slightly better. Key learning point was my flocculation time was 40 minutes :( Far too long. Haven't sourced a PH Meter yet, so no measurements there. Will be trying more Rennet next time to see how that impacts the process. I think I'll bump up my pressures on the final press as well to see how that goes.

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2016, 03:38:36 PM »
I get a flocculation time of 15 minutes with 1/8 tsp (8 drops) of single strength liquid calf's rennet in one gallon of raw milk.  A tad more and this drops to about 10-12 minutes.  The milk started at a pH 6.73 and dropped to 6.67 after one hour of ripening when the rennet was added.  I think that this is pretty standard among all my cheeses.  If you are getting a floc time of 40 minutes (when the bowl stops moving) then either you rennet is weak or you aren't adding enough.

Offline Beans

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Re: Farmhouse Cheddar - Uneven after press & dry, Learning as we go!
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2016, 03:59:20 PM »
Yes, it will be about 2 months. Mostly concerned with getting a look at how it's aging so I can get a feel for the process and also if I can learn anything to adjust.

Second attempt yesterday has yielded similar results in terms of knit, although slightly better. Key learning point was my flocculation time was 40 minutes :( Far too long. Haven't sourced a PH Meter yet, so no measurements there. Will be trying more Rennet next time to see how that impacts the process. I think I'll bump up my pressures on the final press as well to see how that goes.

I use 1 ml of calf rennet per gal for a floc of 12 min.  I bet your rennet is weak somehow.