Author Topic: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.  (Read 232 times)

Offline qdog1955

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35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« on: July 15, 2015, 03:13:10 PM »
  I was surprised to find I just finished my 35th cheese ( a cheddar ). Now, I started this endeavor almost 2 years ago and this got me to thinking about the learning curve----from beginner to, well let's just say, a lot better.
  Out of my first ten cheeses-----3 were absolute failures-----3 were edible, but not very good---and yes, I am rather fussy----4 were better, but not great. I thought of using a baseball reference here, but batting .400 would be great in ball, but not so good in cheese making.
  The next ten were a mix of good to getting better.
  Things improved greatly in my next ten-----no failures----but three of them were not quite up to my standards-----four were excellent. I think they got better when I finally got through my head that stirring gently, meant REALLY GENTLE-----not the manly kind of gentle I used in construction for all those years.
 The last 5 makes went very well and most are still in the cave and I believe they will all be excellent-----because of that learning curve.
So if any of you newbies get a little frustrated, don't give up to quickly-----the curve is probably different for everyone, but it's definitely there.
 35 more cheese makes and I might be able to say, " I am really getting good "
Qdog
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 05:03:39 AM by qdog1955 »
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Offline Kern

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2015, 04:17:26 PM »
Nice post.  In these days of instant gratification many younger people would simply quit.  It saddens me to see new guys join this forum ready to give up after failing at a couple of mozzarellas after only a month of trying.  My dad taught me a couple of things that have stayed with me over all these years:  Anything worth doing is worth doing well; and persistence and determination are omnipotent.       

Offline jmason

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 04:46:22 PM »
I am still very much at the front end of that learning curve, but I'm getting better and this thing is becoming much more intuitive.  One thing I have noticed that troubles me with some of the new folks is how some seem to get all hung up on 1 detail, say pH, and then freak out when things seem to happen different than what they expect.  While a pH meter, or a cheese press are important tools, they are only tools.  pH meters can be tweaky and give errant results, this can be confusing for a newb and cause them to interrupt an otherwise fine make.  I think it is important to remember that people have been making pretty darn good cheeses long before pH meters or even the concept of pH was known, people made good cheese a long time before they knew why it was or wasn't good.  Reliance on the gizmos can stand in the way of someone developing a real feel for the process.  I would hate to think that I would be all freaked out if the batteries on my meter died during a make, pretty darn sure I could carry on without it as I did for all those cheeses I made before I dug it out of mothballs to join the party.  Milk seems to know how to become cheese and we have to have the patience to let it and help it on it's journey.

John
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Online Gobae

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2015, 07:25:33 AM »
Nice post.  In these days of instant gratification many younger people would simply quit.  It saddens me to see new guys join this forum ready to give up after failing at a couple of mozzarellas after only a month of trying.

Yes, I was very close to giving up after trying nearly 12 times to make mozz and having only a 25% success rate. Then I decided to take a step back and try a different cheese (feta). Although not all of them were perfect, only 1 was a failure. With a little good experience under my belt, now I'm moving on to camembert, roquefort, brie, and chevre.

Although there's something to be said for not giving up, there's also something to said for not doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Don't give, just move on; there are SO many cheeses.


Offline Stinky

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2015, 06:23:33 PM »
I must say, all of my recent cheeses that I've tried (made in the last 4 or 5 months) have been successful, and my most recent batch (Emmental, Camembert, fast-ripening DG, Tilsit) are all excellent in my eyes.
It's probably a pathogen.

Offline OzzieCheese

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2015, 11:14:07 PM »
Personally, it has been a process of osmosis from zero to where I feel confident in answering question of those just starting.  Where on the curve ???  I feel it depends what cheese - for Camemberts I know enough to be consistent, but it can still trip you up - for Cheddar - I do good one I feel but when one - me - keeps fiddling trying new cultures the results are unpredictable. I counted all my cheeses (some not posted here) is 29 ( Malemberts count a 1 per batch) and I've done 10 so far and the first 6-7 were a disaster and I too nearly gave up on them.  Am I an expert ?  - Hardly.  Am I passionate - you bet, give me a soap box and I'll spruik with the best of them.  There are cheeses I 'll probably never try but these are those where 3 years waiting is not a hobby - it's a life choice :) .  That said however there are those cheeses that have historical and cultural significance that I feel I should try.  But most of all,  its a learning activity.  It keep the brain active, gives me something to plan for that shows results after a reasonable period and finally it's the "I made that" feeling... Nothing more satisfying.

This weekend - a Stinky... 8)

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Offline qdog1955

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2015, 05:19:09 AM »
Kern ---your absolutely right----it seems the younger gen. thinks if it can't be done electronically and fast, well it just can't be done. But in all fairness the writers and sellers of these cheese books have a tendency to make it all look so much easier then it really is----prime example---all those " easy mozzarella" recipes out there.
  John---maybe the ph meter isn't for everyone ----in my case, it was the one thing that got me on track----it's helped me understand what is happening through out the make and especially at the very end, in the press. I now know exactly when to take it out and brine. Almost 85% of my failures were do to over acidification.
 Gobae----persistence can pay off----but you're right, to keep trying the same thing over and over, the same way, and failing, should tell you one thing----that you are consistently doing the wrong thing. That's why some of the advice on the forum can be really helpful.
Mal-----your braver then I am----when  I find one that works, I stick to it----to experiment means I might fail and that really hurts the wallet---more so than the pride.
Qdog
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.

Offline John@PC

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2015, 07:25:41 PM »
Thanks for the "cheese laid bare" Qdog.  I've lost count of my cheeses made and maybe 1/4 were either toss-worthy or smoke-and-make-edible.  When Patty asks my why I make cheese considering it costs 3x 5x or so what you could buy it for (adding in your valuable time) I ask  her why do people climb Mt. Everest?  To be honest I've never told her that  :-[  but the point is that making cheese for a lot of us is an endeavor to do something special.  On the plus side I've found out that most of by boo-boo cheeses were my best cheeses. 

Offline Gregore

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2015, 12:10:08 AM »
I make cheese because I always dreamed of making cheese , as a young teen I read a book called " the elfin airship" and in it was  a  caricture that made cheese and had a smallish bulldog that loved  to sit on the porch with him and eat cheese .

Now I live that dream, price  and time do not matter  only great cheese .

But I think my reblochons are cheaper than store bought even at 15 dollars a gallon  if you do not include labor .

 I think making cheese is easy or at least something rather edible  is easy , making a good cheese is reasonable harder and making a great cheese a second or third  time is very hard .

I have been lucky and have had none that were non eatable , the first cheese was  not all that great but  did melt well enough and was better tasting when melted .

One other great thing about making cheese is that it just blows people's minds when you let them taste a cheese you make , they really find it hard to imagine that it was made at home .

Online Oolybooly

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 08:54:35 AM »
Thank you Qdog ;) as someone who is JUST beginning (nothing made. Zip. Nada. Oh wait, yogurt  :o ), this helps to see what I'm in for! In a good way I swear! I love the learning curve in new things and I like to think I'm a fairly patient person. My biggest foreseeable battle will be with my production-manager-cost-effectiveness-time-is-money-about-the-end-result-not-the-journey boyfriend! Lol! He think it's cool but is already itching about cost/reward. Good thing it's my hobby not his,right?

I always wondered how long it would take to get the hang of things but I know it's hard to pin down a number with so many variables! So thanks again!

Nieves

Offline Stinky

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 09:09:40 AM »
Thank you Qdog ;) as someone who is JUST beginning (nothing made. Zip. Nada. Oh wait, yogurt  :o ), this helps to see what I'm in for! In a good way I swear! I love the learning curve in new things and I like to think I'm a fairly patient person. My biggest foreseeable battle will be with my production-manager-cost-effectiveness-time-is-money-about-the-end-result-not-the-journey boyfriend! Lol! He think it's cool but is already itching about cost/reward. Good thing it's my hobby not his,right?

I always wondered how long it would take to get the hang of things but I know it's hard to pin down a number with so many variables! So thanks again!

Nieves

What cheese are you starting with?
It's probably a pathogen.

Online Oolybooly

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 10:26:39 AM »
Thank you Qdog ;) as someone who is JUST beginning (nothing made. Zip. Nada. Oh wait, yogurt  :o ), this helps to see what I'm in for! In a good way I swear! I love the learning curve in new things and I like to think I'm a fairly patient person. My biggest foreseeable battle will be with my production-manager-cost-effectiveness-time-is-money-about-the-end-result-not-the-journey boyfriend! Lol! He think it's cool but is already itching about cost/reward. Good thing it's my hobby not his,right?

I always wondered how long it would take to get the hang of things but I know it's hard to pin down a number with so many variables! So thanks again!

Nieves

What cheese are you starting with?


I hate to say it but I don't know! My initial list has Gouda, Caerphilly and cottage cheese, but I seem to be adding to that list (I wrote some on my intro post... Dunno how to link!) then removing cuz I want to be sure it's appropriate for my level. I'm confident but I want to be sure I'm not diving in the deep end. What's the general consesus on cheeses to start with?

Offline Stinky

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 07:42:47 PM »
H'm. If you do Caerphilly, I'd stick with a stirred-crud version rather than cheddared until you gain more experience. But it's a great cheese for a starter. It's fast, so patience is not a huge issue, and pretty tasty. Might I also possibly recommend a Butterkäse or a Tomme?
It's probably a pathogen.

Online Oolybooly

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #13 on: Today at 12:35:32 AM »
H'm. If you do Caerphilly, I'd stick with a stirred-crud version rather than cheddared until you gain more experience. But it's a great cheese for a starter. It's fast, so patience is not a huge issue, and pretty tasty. Might I also possibly recommend a Butterkäse or a Tomme?

 
hi Stinky (ps Qdog1955 sorry to be hijacking your thread :S i will try to move this convo to somewhere.. lol maybe my intro?) the caerphilly recipe i was looking at didnt seem to be complicated so im assuming its the stirred curd one. i went to the links you give and i love the simpliciy and the gorgeous look of that butterkase (how do you type that accent on the a?????) but was TOTALLY lost on the Tomme recipe :/ i notice that i gauge my "level" by how many words i need to look up definitions for and i was lost pretty early on with that one, hahaha!

Offline qdog1955

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Re: 35 cheeses---and the learning curve.
« Reply #14 on: Today at 05:36:49 AM »
No worries---you can't hijack a discussion thread---In my opinion----the best cheese for a beginner is a fresh cheese called Queso Fresco---here's a link http://www.cheesemaking.com/QuesoFresco.html  It will give you experience with most of the techniques you will need to learn---is pretty simple----you only have to wait a day or so to eat----you can add all kinds of things-----it melts well----you can make with raw milk----it will not keep for a long time, so don't make a huge batch. Knowing whether your cheese has worked out in a day or two can be a huge advantage in learning the ins and outs, and it tastes pretty good, too.
Qdog
Worrying----is like sitting in a rocking chair---- a lot of motion-----but it gets you no where.