Author Topic: My First Parmesan  (Read 2003 times)

Offline Trey Magnus

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My First Parmesan
« on: August 17, 2011, 12:16:18 PM »
OK, so several months ago, I made a pound of Mozzarella.  It turned out edible.
On June 28th I made a small (1 pound) Cheddar.  Looked good and yield was as expected, 4 more months and we will see.
A few weeks ago (July 17th I think) I made a 5 pound Colby.  Excellent curd, great yield, a few months and we will see.
And finally this weekend I got to what I have really been wanting to get in the cave.... Parmesan

I experienced one disappointment in the make and hope someone can identify where I went wrong.  Out of 4.75 gallons of milk, my yield was only 2 pounds 15.5 oz.  Based on what I have read, it should have been closer to 4.25 pounds.

I based my recipe on http://www.cheesemaking.com/Parma2.html .  I gleaned information from many other sources (most of which were from posts on this board) to customize the recipe to what seemed the best combination of all the sources I looked at.

Here is the recipe and make notes.

On Saturday we got a 5 gallon bucket of fresh milk from a local dairy (Holstein cows).  I put this in the fridge overnight to allow the cream to rise and Sunday right after Church, I got started.  I skimmed 5 cups of cream off the top.  I have no way of knowing exactly how much of the total cream I got but I estimate it was approx 60-70% of the total cream content.

This left me with about 4.75 gallons of partially skimmed milk - pH of 6.84

I put this in my 22 quart Electric Roaster and began slowly heating to 93F, stirring often.
While the milk was heating I dissolved 5/8 tsp of Mild Calf Lipase in 1 cup water.
It took about 30 minutes for the milk to reach 93F and it actually overshot to 95.5F.

{Over the past few weekends, I made several Primer Cultures (thank you Sailor) and froze them in ice cube trays.  Each one of my cubes is about 1.5-1.7 oz.
I took one large cube of TA61 and put it into a cup (covered it with cheese cloth) and 4 cubes of LH100 into a separate cup (covered) and left them in the fridge overnight to thaw.
On Sunday morning before Church, they were still frozen cubes so I filled the cups with fresh milk, covered and let sit on the counter (75F) as I would be home in about 2.5 hours to start the cheese.}

I added the approx. 1.8 oz of TA61 primer culture (in a cup of milk), 7.2 oz of LH100 primer culture (in a cup of milk) and the Lipase and stirred it in well for about 90 seconds.
I diluted 1 tsp liquid animal rennet in 3.3 oz of water.
After about 6-7 minutes I checked the pH of the milk and it was already down to 6.65 (I was a little surprised it got there so quickly) so I added the rennet and stirred it in for about 45 seconds.

I spun my plastic bowl and ended up with a floc time of 12 minutes. (I was pleased as with my previous makes the floc time was 6-9 minutes so I have been adjusting my rennet usage down trying and hit the 10-15 minute target window.)
Based on posts on this board I chose a multiplier of 2X and at about 25 minutes (hmmm it just occurred to me that I used 25 minutes after it flocked instead of 25 minutes from the time of rennet addition).  That mistake makes my results even more perplexing.  Anyway......

When I began to cut the curds at 37 minutes after adding the rennet, they were very delicate.  My curds from the Colby make a few weeks ago (which flocced at 7 minutes) and cut at (hmm another mistake... 28 minutes after adding the rennet) were beautiful and made this papa proud but these curds were very weak and delicate so I still began to cut them in 1" squares but I did so very very slowly and carefully.  It took about 6 minutes to make the vertical cuts.
I let them rest for 10 minutes and went back and made some horizontal cuts but the curd was still more delicate that I would have preferred.
Maintaining 93-94F, over the next 20 minutes, using my wire whisk, I stirred the curd to break them into smaller pieces.  They whey seemed to be getting a little to cloudy for my taste but I proceeded on per the recipe being as gentle as I could.
Once I reached the target pea sized pieces, I began to raise the temperature to 130F.  The recipe called for 20 minutes but my cooker took about 30 minutes to get there.  I had to stir constantly and vigorously to keep the curd from matting together on the bottom of the pan.  They really wanted to mat up and stick together.
Once I reached about 128F I cut the heat and continued to stir for another 10 minutes, the temp overshot to 133F.
At this point the curds were not trying so hard to stick together and following the recipe, I drained them into cheese cloth and poured the whey back into the pan.  The pH was 6.31 at this time.

I tied the curd in the cheese cloth and immediately suspended the curd in the hot whey (130-134F) and let it sit for 60 more minutes.
About every 20 minutes I tried to roll the curd mass around in the cloth to form a smooth round ball but the curd was not real interested in sticking together very much at this point.  It was forming a mass but not a very tight one.
During this time, I took about 3/4 gallon of the whey, added a cup of salt and 1 tbl Calcium Chloride to make a whey brine and brought it up to 135F.
At the end of 60 minutes, (pH 6.24) I took the curd, dunked it in the 135F whey brine and rolled the curd mass around in the cloth for about 60 seconds again in an effort to create a smooth ball but it still was not very smooth.
I then placed it into my 7-3/4" Mold and began pressing.

Now I do not have a real cheese press as of yet.  I will eventually build one (when I settle on a design and have time) but my busy work schedule has not allowed for that just yet.  In the pictures below, I have included for your amusement, a picture of my "cheese press".  The mold is in the bottom of the gray bucket with the others stacked on top of the follower with a large can of soup as a spacer.   ::)

I pressed this 7-3/4" dia. mold with about 35 pounds for 15 minutes.
Removed, redressed, and pressed with 35 pounds for 15 minutes.
Removed, redressed and pressed with 75 pounds for 30 minutes.
Removed, redressed and pressed with 200 pounds for 12 hours.

When I removed the cheese from the mold the next morning (about 11 hours at 200 pounds).
I carefully removed the cheese cloth.  This took several minutes as it was stuck on there pretty good.  I only lost one dime sized chunk off one edge.  I was surprised that the knit was very nice.  It was smooth and looked very good.
I weighed it and it was 2 pounds 15.5 oz.  Here is where I was disappointed.

Per the recipe, I put the cheese back into the mold, covered it with a 5 gallon plastic bucket and let it sit at room temperature for 48 hours.
This morning I took some pictures and then placed the cheese into 55F brine and plan to leave it for (6 hours per pound) 18 hours.

I only had 2 problems (that I know of) with this make.  The very delicate curd and the less than expected yield which I suspect are connected.
Although I hit the floc time perfectly at 12 minutes, my cut time ended up being 3X (2X was the target) and yet the curd was still very delicate.

Does anyone see any errors or have any suggestions for this make?  The 3 pounder I ended up with looks (and smells) pretty good but 12 months is a long time to wait before I see the results and I would like to get a few more in the cave before them.




« Last Edit: August 17, 2011, 12:48:17 PM by Trey Magnus »


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2011, 01:09:09 PM »
Your previous make that had good curd, was it the same milk?
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Offline Boofer

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2011, 01:14:47 PM »
Nice press. Don't think a bucket press has reached that high before. Kudos.

Thank you for detailing your process so completely. Very inspirational.

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Offline Trey Magnus

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2011, 07:32:33 AM »
Your previous make that had good curd, was it the same milk?
Yes same milk from the same cows as before.  pH of the milk when I made the Colby was 6.85

Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2011, 07:45:59 AM »
Then in your case, you need to target a lower time to floc due to the lower solids in the holstein milk. Target somewhere around 9 mins. You could also stand to build up a little more  (.05) acidity before adding rennet.

Your scalding schedule was also off as you wrote. Those curds were a tad overcooked. Makes a difference in the knit quality. But honestly, that yield is not terrible for Holstein milk. Not great, but for parm, not terrible. 8-9% is usually in the normal range.
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Offline Trey Magnus

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2011, 07:52:05 AM »
Would the reduced butterfat content make a difference?  Did I remove too much cream?

What is the ideal percentage of butterfat to use in a Parm?

Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2011, 08:03:41 AM »
It's not the butterfat per se, it's the PF ratio of the milk. And for parm, so long as you're above 1.25, you're good. For Holstein, that's somewhere in the 2.5% range. I don't think you removed too much fat. Of course, less fat means lower yield.

Nah, it was the rennet amount combined with the casein quality. But it's not terrible. The real stuff, they also use Holsteins, and it takes a bit over 1000 liters to make ~200 lbs of cheese. The vats are 1100 liters each, and each vat makes 2 wheels that are 45-50 Kg. So really, you did fine :). It's just how parm is. That's why they recover the whey fat to make whey butter, and then recapture the protein for the piggies.
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Offline Trey Magnus

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2011, 08:23:33 AM »
Thank You Very Much!  I will make the adjustments to the recipe and procedure and try it again in a week or so.  ;D

Just wish I did not have to wait a YEAR to taste the results lol.  ::)

Offline stoneyridge

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2011, 11:52:36 AM »
Is your Parm waxed?  Does waxing parmesan affect the final flavor at all.  I've been trying to age some natural-rind parms, and they keep turning blue on me!  I'd love to be able to wax them, but didn't think they would turn out right if I did.

D

Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2011, 11:57:04 AM »
Quote
Does waxing parmesan affect the final flavor at all.

yes. If you want natural rind, make them a decent size (5+ lbs) and form factor (even cylinder, no thin disks or tall cylinders), and use saturated brine. It will dehydrate the outer rind and salt it to such a point that nothing will grow on it.
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Offline stoneyridge

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2011, 01:13:19 PM »
So - I have 4 3-lb wheels currently aging.  Would it be best to wax them at this point, or add salt to the rind to discourage mold development?  I've been using a vinegar brine wash to clean off any growth, but it keeps coming back :(

Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2011, 01:32:38 PM »
If you haven't conditioned the rind by now to create a proper gradient of salt and moisture, it's a little late. You can salt, but with wheels that small, you'll lose quite a bit of cheese to the rind that way.

I would wax or vac pack and age them out to 14-18 months. They'll still taste great, I bet.
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Offline stoneyridge

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2011, 01:38:54 PM »
Thanks for your help!  These are my first parms, so I'm looking forward to trying them.  The oldest is a little over 2 months now, so it probably is too late to adjust the rind.  I will try waxing or vacuum sealing.  Unfortunately, I currently don't have a way of making larger wheels.  Thanks again.

D

Offline Trey Magnus

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2011, 09:17:19 AM »
OK, well my make did not go exactly as planned (low yield) and even if it did, the plan had some flaws (too large diameter mold for one thing) and now I have a really good looking thin disc where a cylinder is needed to naturally age.  I see above where you said that it would be OK to vacuum pack a Parm.  My question is, how long do I need to wait?

For my Colby, I waited 2 weeks but those curds were not as dry at the time of pressing and I also did not press it as hard and it is almost twice as thick as the Parm.  After one week I noticed a very small amount of liquid in the Colby package so I removed it from the pack, dried it off and let it sit overnight in the cave and re-vacuum packed it.  Now when I handle it (twice a week) to turn it over there is no liquid in the bag and it has a good "cheesy" feel to it.  Not too firm, not too soft, juuuuuust right (I hope).   :)

The rind on the Parm is already very dry and there is very little give to it when I pick it up.  I am afraid that if I don't do something soon, it will be a large hockey puck and inedible.  The combination of it being thin, drying at room temp for 48 hours and the 18 hour brine has dried it out a lot (so it seems to me).

All that to ask.... how fast can I vacuum pack it?

What is the downside to sealing it up it too early?

Does it need to breath to age properly?

I know the vacuum pack is liquid tight but can oxygen molecules (enough of them) get in and waste gasses get out?

Thanks In advance.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: My First Parmesan
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2011, 09:47:34 AM »
Quote
What is the downside to sealing it up it too early?
If you had a decent make (even curd size), and a good press ( even drainage), you can pack after a day. Most people have trouble because of their make process. It's not conducive to vac packing, so there's excess whey.

In your case, I think 2-3 days is fine, and then vac pack.

Quote
Does it need to breath to age properly?
No.

Quote

I know the vacuum pack is liquid tight but can oxygen molecules (enough of them) get in and waste gasses get out?
Generally, for most plastic bags, not significantly.
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