Author Topic: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?  (Read 2930 times)

Offline Brandnetel

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OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« on: January 29, 2011, 10:07:37 PM »
I have a question regarding whether it is OK to cut a cheese that has been pressed in order to get the right proportion for the cheese style.

In brief, I am making a cow's-milk tomme from 4 gallons of milk and got lots of curd yield. Knowing the amount would never fit in my 2 petit tomme molds, I went ahead and pressed it in 2 small 'hard cheese' molds from Cheesemaking - you know the kind, cylinders that are square-proportioned in cross-section.

Anyhow, after light initial pressing, the cheeses are still taking up nearly the full height of the mold. While I anticipate that these will flatten down a little bit, I'm pretty sure I will still end up with pretty tall cylinders. So it occurred to me - is there any reason that, prior to brining them, I could not just cut them in half with a sanitized blade? No rind will have formed at that point, and I would think I could just brine and age the 4 resulting shorter cheeses as normal and they would be better-proportioned for the tomme style. Could even press lightly for a little bit after cutting if necessary.

Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 07:31:01 AM by Brandnetel »
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Offline Brandnetel

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2011, 09:23:13 PM »
Well . . . I took the plunge and went ahead and did this. cutting open my 2 large (to me!) cheeses after about 24 hrs of pressing under light weight (maybe 15 lbs spread over the two 4.5" diameter cheeses). There were some mechanical openings here and there in the paste, actually looking pretty right on for pics of tommes I have seen here, but I wasn't really comfortable with those on the surface, so I did a 'finishing' press for about 30 minutes. A surprising amount of clear liquid was expressed during this brief final press.

And here are the resulting "tiny tommes"! At 4.5" in diameter they are a bit smaller than the petit tomme mold size, but around the same depth. They came in between 1 and 1-1/3 lbs each, and I'm brining the lot of them for 4 hrs now. There is still a hole here and there in the rind, but IIRC from threads here, that's OK . . . . ? In the end I just felt better about getting a more tomme-like look and proportion and who knows, maybe I'll vary the rind or something on two of them for fun.

'

(Sorry my regular camera is unavailable so I only have phone pix . . .)
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Offline Brandnetel

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2011, 01:58:23 PM »
So, about a month in with these cheeses that I cut, and I must say the cut sides are behaving very differently. I have been washing the rinds primarily with a 'morge' made from pureed Tomme de Savoie, and have mostly seen white mold coming up, with a little bit of brown and some B. Linens here and there (probably cross-contamination from adjacent cheeses in my mini-fridge 'cave').

But the cut sides, which although lightly pressed were not nearly as cleanly closed as the others, havee really resisted mold growth on the whole. Also, in some cases they have cracked a little right at the surface. I'm a bit at a loss to explain the different behavior - if anything, I might wildly guess that these sides were more absorbtive of salt during brining and thus are worse environments for mold?

Would be interested in any feedback that folks might have, thanks!


The uncut sides are doing OK I think for mold/rind development, although it hasn't quite spread to all areas (esp. the very edges) despite repeated dunking and spraying with 'morge' and hand-rubbing over the 'bald' spots. You can see some difference where the cheese was sitting on the bamboo slats of the mat.


The cut sides, however, look very different, with little mold growing and a few cracks. And it looks like more yellow/orange mold where it does occur. Mostly what you can see here is the translucent exposed surface of the cheese itself.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 02:24:49 PM by Brandnetel »
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Offline darius

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2011, 02:45:52 PM »
I'm glad you are posting your progress even though none of the experts here have chimed in. Since I'm new at this, I'm learning a lot from everyone. Thanks. :)

Offline Brandnetel

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2011, 11:26:40 PM »
Well, at just over 2 months in i succumbed to temptation and cut open one of my "so-called mini-tommes". I thought the rind looked great but as soon as I cut it open I could see it was (like many of my other efforts) significantly drier than anticipated or desired.


Nice rind, nice color, smells great . . .


Ah, but so crumbly . . . .



The paste became more sliceable after it had been open for a little while, and it was firm but still had just a hint of give to it. The taste was excellent, although (once again) very different than what I had anticipated - some of the richness of a parmesan coupled with a nice earthiness and some pungent complexity, especially when including the rind. If it was not for the fact that Tomme de Savoie was my more-or-less target I would have been 100% pleased with this firm, flavorful cheese. Another data point along the road, and very satisfying in its own way.
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Offline Susan

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2011, 04:32:48 AM »
Your cheese looks delicious!  I'm surprised the experts haven't chimed in by now.  I am definitely not one.  But I recall reading on this forum that the rind already begins to form in the mold so when you cut it you alter the rind.  It looks like you were able to discover that in your progress when the sides developed differently.  Thanks for posting your progress.  I've wondered since reading about it, what difference it would make and I've considered doing the same thing! :D

Offline Tomer1

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2011, 04:49:25 AM »
Possibly low humidity in your fridge? (Is that cracking I see on top or mechaical opening)
Perhaps next time once a solid yeast crust has formed you can vaccum seal if you have the abillity, not the traditional way of making this cheese but one solution to your problem.
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Offline Boofer

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2011, 08:05:27 AM »
Your cheese looks great. Yum! It actually looks like a longer-aged cheese than 2 months.

I haven't seen anyone offer a reason for why a freshly made cheese (and then cut) would have different characteristics on the cut rind side. I saw that with my Taleggio. Development of the rind on the cut was less enthusiastic. Don't understand that, but I will try not to repeat that action.

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Offline Brandnetel

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Re: OK to cut pressed cheese to the right size?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2011, 10:30:56 AM »
Thanks for all the feedback, folks! While I do think its great that we have some very experienced folks here, for me there is value to the participation of people at all experience levels. It is nice to see a kind of community and body of knowledge developing as we all swap stories and info. Sometimes it's even more significant to me that someone says "oh yeah, that happened to me too" as opposed to getting the received knowledge from on high.

Tomer: Yes, keeping the RH up in my fridge has been an ongoing challenge. I think I'm at an OK point now, but maybe not earlier in the aging of this cheese. Yes, those are cracks that developed during aging, mostly. I have 2 more of these, maybe if I can resist eating them I will vac seal one at this point and see how that develops.

Susan: You will note from Boofer's response that he also experienced different development of the cut side of a cheese done in this way. I think the consensus is not to cut cheese after you have started to mold it. If I could do this again I would have left these in their original larger configuration, which might also have helped keep more moisture within the bigger cheeses.
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