Author Topic: Cheese making curriculum  (Read 135 times)

Offline mozsticks123

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Cheese making curriculum
« on: February 11, 2017, 09:31:38 PM »
Hello all.

I'm relatively new to cheese making and was curious about a few things that I don't see being discussed a lot in the forum's.

1. There is a lot of information to digest and a lot of processes to master in cheese making. Is there a particular order one should make certain types of cheese that starts off simple and progresses to using more complex processes? Example... Starting out with fresh acid coagulated cheeses that require no affinage and progressing to rennet coagulated cheeses that require months of affinage. ??

2. When making cheese, what are some of the methods everyone uses to log thier cheese making? Such as checking temperature/ph every x number of minutes to monitor cheese progression. What are the best logging outlines you have found that help you record and replicate great cheese recipes you have developed??
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 10:07:57 PM by mozsticks123 »
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Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Cheese making curriculum
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 09:46:13 AM »
Find something that works for your setup, equipment, and environment.  Do it until you perfect it, at least to your satisfaction, and then do it the same every time.  I would suggest you start with a fresco or short affinage cheese to see if your processes are working rather than wait a year for a cheese only to find you totally screwed it up. ;)
Making the World a Safer Place, One Cheese at a Time!  http://alewis64.blogspot.com/

Offline mozsticks123

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Re: Cheese making curriculum
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2017, 10:47:42 AM »
Thank you! Someone also mentioned trying feta as my first cheese in another post. I might try that as well.
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Offline awakephd

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Re: Cheese making curriculum
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2017, 02:15:59 PM »
First off, welcome to the forum! This is a great place to ask questions, learn, and share from your own successes and failures - and we all have some of both to share!

With regard to progression, I don't think there is any single path that is best for all. I agree with Al that it is good to make some quick-maturing cheeses at first, to get quick feedback on how you are doing - but there is a wide variety of cheeses that fit this bill, depending on how you define "quick." Two key questions are going to be what kind(s) of cheeses you like - no reason to make a cheese you don't care for just because it is "supposed" to be next - and what equipment you have, especially your ability to press a cheese.

Starting with a no- or low-press fresh cheese, with no aging other than perhaps a couple of days in the fridge, will give you a quick introduction to cheesemaking and can give very quick feedback. Pressing can be done simply with a jug of water or a canned good.

From there, if you don't have a press, you could go the direction of mold-ripened cheeses, which require no pressing - camembert/brie/etc., or blue cheeses such as a stilton. These are not generally considered "beginner" cheeses, but they are really not that hard. A camembert can be ready in 4-6 weeks, depending on your aging facilities; a blue will take more like 12-14 weeks, so not as quick on the feedback.

If you do have a press, you could go the route of Caerphilly or Lancashire, which ripen in 3 - 6 weeks. These are both considered to be in the cheddar family, but don't require the 6 months or more of a true cheddar.

Many folks here on the forum advocate working with one cheese make over and over again until you really get it perfected. This is good advice ... which I did not take. There are some cheeses that I have made many, many times, tweaking my process each time until I consistently get the results I want, but rarely do I make the same type of cheese twice in a row. The 90 or so cheeses I have made include more than a dozen different types - I just like to experiment.

The key, as you allude to, is keeping records so that, the next time you make a particular variety, you can compare, adjust, etc. Currently I just use a spreadsheet, with columns for the date, ingredients, type of make and source of recipe, description of the make (the steps), and notes on what happened. I include test points for temperature and pH only where they seem to matter. Others on this forum use much more detailed make sheets, keeping closer track of time/temp/pH along the way.

From time to time, different users here have talked about developing some software to keep a cheese log, but I have not yet seen anything suggesting anyone has followed through or finished any such program. That includes me - I started work last summer on a program to keep my cheese log, but it is not yet finished, and won't be until at least this summer - the first time I will possibly have time to do more work on it. Certainly if/when I complete it, I will make it available here, complete with source code, for the edification and/or critique of fellow members. But meanwhile, I keep using my old spreadsheet ...
-- Andy

Offline Gregore

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Re: Cheese making curriculum
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2017, 11:49:47 PM »
Not only keep data , but thoughts about a prosess or about how you link things are proceeding . Record tastes and textures of the curd , clearness of whey.  All these things help you see how all of the parts of cheese chemistry are connected.
Sometimes it can tell more about what really caused this new flavor than  a bunch of numbers.