Author Topic: Coagulation, Rennet - No Clean Break, Recommendation & Maintaining Vat Temperature Discussion  (Read 2341 times)

Offline bigsearock

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We were trying to make Feta today using the same store-bought goat milk as the last time we did it successfully, the same amount of calcium chloride and rennet. The only change we made to the recipe was to add a little more culture than last time and perhaps we weren't as successful at keeping the temperature at a steady 86F. After 1 hour the curds hadn't set, but last time it took us about 45 minutes, so we weren't worried. Two hours later though, the mixture was the same consistency. Anyone know what happened?

And what do we do with this stuff? I don't want to waste it. I saw someone else post that they turned a failed-to-set goat milk mixture into yogurt, but I've already got a full batch of yogurt in the fridge. Any ideas?


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Offline linuxboy

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Keep it steady at 80-85 for 18-24 hours. If your culture was active, it will acidify and coagulate. Then drain it in cheesecloth. At the end, you will have a fresh cheese like chevre, which will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, or which you can freeze.

If it did not set and everything else is the same, your rennet is probably off, or you didn't use enough rennet, or you mixed it with chlorinated water. Might be the milk, but less likely.
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Offline OlJarhead

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It took 2 1/2 hours for my 2nd cheddar to set :(  But it did finally set enough to cut the curd and press into cheese and surprisingly turned out very nice.
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Offline bigsearock

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We definitely didn't use chlorinated water, and the rennet was good when we used it 2 weeks ago. Could it not have set because the temperature was fluctuating too much? I was having a hard time keeping it at 86F using the hot water in the sink method. The temperature dipped lower than that probably quite often. We certainly wouldn't be able to keep it at that temperature for 18-24 hours without giving up on the idea of sleeping alltogether. How do other people keep 1 gallon (3.75 litre) batches warm? It's too much for my yogotherm to hold. Also could the increase in the amount of culture have had an effect? I had 2 identical recipes except one used twice as much culture. I was following that one this time.

Offline ArnaudForestier

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How do other people keep 1 gallon (3.75 litre) batches warm?

When I started (wasn't long ago, so take it for what you will), and made 1 gallon chèvre batches, I kept the small stockpot in the oven, just the pilot, the door kept slightly ajar with a wooden spoon jammed in the hinge.  Worked fine. I do this still, with bread bulk ferments.   
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Offline Boofer

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How do other people keep 1 gallon (3.75 litre) batches warm?
I use a bigger aluminum pot, normally used for steaming stuff, as a double boiler. They are usually pretty cheap. Once it's filled with water (only enough so the cheese kettle doesn't float) and brought to temp the cheese kettle goes inside, lids on, and it retains the heat very effectively.

Another method is to use a seed starting mat wrapped around the kettle. This is, of course, outside the sink not sitting in water.  ::)

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Offline Jessica_H

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I had an interesting and mildly similar experience this weekend.

On Saturday I made a Provolone out of 1 gallon of milk.  I used 1/4 tsp liquid calf rennet dissolved in a little less than 1/4c of water. My floc time was 25 minutes!!

On Sunday I made a Romano out of 3 gallons of milk.  I used 3/4 tsp liquid calf rennet dissolved in 1/3c of water. My floc time was 12 minutes.

I tried to figure out the difference...the temps were virtually identical and they both used thermophilic culture.  However, I am sure I let the provolone rennet sit on the counter for at least 5 min before adding it to the milk and I don't think I stirred it much at all...just a swish swish.  On Sunday I didn't want a repeated 25 min floc time so I pulled the rennet from the fridge and used it within a minute and I gave it a better stir but still stayed under 20 seconds of stirring.

It was the same milk, both batches skimmed, and the same rennet.

Offline linuxboy

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Quote
86F using the hot water in the sink method. The temperature dipped lower than that probably quite often.
Got it. That's your issue then. Temp fluctuations cause HUGE changes to rate of curd formation, and curd strength, especially below 88F. For example, if you heat a vat on the bottom, and have even a fan going cooling down the top, the 2-3F temp gradient will result in very odd curd. You can have curd formed on the bottom, and completely liquid milk on the top.

That said, a large volume of milk tends to maintain its temp remarkably well. But if your milk had a high pH in the 6.8s, and if the temp dropped, that absolutely could have changed the curd formation rate from 30-45 mins to 90+ minutes.
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Offline OlJarhead

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Interesting discussion -- what about putting a lid on it?  To keep it warm and stabilize the temp?  For example, I noticed that with the Turkey roaster there were warm/hot spots in the milk (must be uneven burners) but once the milk reaches temp and holds there why not turn off the burners, set the rennet and then put a lid on it (to hold the temp in)?  That ought to make it stable during the process no?

I found that the last two times I made cheese I had problems getting a clean break.  My finger went in with a clean break in but came out with a little left on it (too much goop to call it a clean break).  I'm lucky because the first time it was perfect so I know what it should be.  Anyway, the only difference (obvious one) is the annatto I added.  But I DO know that my temps have not remained stable until this last cheese batch but the turkey roaster as mentioned above, has hot spots.

IN the end it didn't matter and I managed to get enough of a squeaky curd to make hard cheese in 60 minutes this weekend despite the questionable break and my cheeses look fine, but I'm curious about my lid idea??
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Offline bigsearock

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I did have a lid on the pot, which made it rather difficult to check the temperature. I was mostly checking the temperature in the water bath surrounding it instead, but obviously not often enough.

I do need to come up with a better system for keeping the milk at a constant temperature. I was using the biggest pot I own, but maybe I should get an even bigger one and try the pot-in-a-pot solution (or wait for warmer weather). And I didn't put the rennet in straight out of the freezer, so maybe that was a problem too.


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Offline OlJarhead

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I did have a lid on the pot, which made it rather difficult to check the temperature. I was mostly checking the temperature in the water bath surrounding it instead, but obviously not often enough.

I do need to come up with a better system for keeping the milk at a constant temperature. I was using the biggest pot I own, but maybe I should get an even bigger one and try the pot-in-a-pot solution (or wait for warmer weather). And I didn't put the rennet in straight out of the freezer, so maybe that was a problem too.

I tried the turkey roaster idea and it was pretty awesome -- except draining -- and I'd recommend it to anyone!
Life's too short to buy stuff!  That's why I take the time to make it myself :)