Author Topic: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break  (Read 954 times)

Offline First Timer

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Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« on: September 08, 2011, 11:16:50 AM »
Ok so I've made beer before and I thought it would be pretty cool to make some cheese, since I love cheese.  I didn't have any interest in some of the "beginner's" recipes that I found for yogurt and the like so I decided I would give a blue cheese a try.  I found a recipe for farmers cheese/neufchatel that I was going to use as the base for my blue cheese.  The first time I used 2 gallons of store bought (Walmart) milk, 1/2 tab of rennet in 1/2 cup tap water.  I used cultured buttermilk as my starter.  I heated the milk up as directed (65-75F) added the buttermilk then added the rennet.  I let it sit for 24 hrs as instructed.  But it never made a clean break, best I can describe it was that it was a sort of applesauce consistency.  I cut it but the curds (if you could call them that) just sort of dissolved.  I tried to ladle it into my cloth but there was no separation of curds and whey it was all sort of a sloppy mess.....

So I decided to try again after I read about CaCl.  I purchased some from a brewing store and went and got some milk.  This time at a local country store/dairy that has they're own milk figuring this may be better/less pasteurized than a big box store milk.  I heated the milk up as directed, added 1/2 tsp. of the CaCl dissolved in 1/2 cup water, the same amount of buttermilk as before, and the same amount of rennet as before.  I thought for sure this would work this time.  I let it sit for 24 hrs and what do I find, same problem as last time almost exactly, except this time there was a wee little bit of whey separated out and laying on top, other than that it was a big applesauce like mess and I ended up throwing it all out again. 

Any advice would be great because I'm hesitant to try a 3rd time and throw more milk out.  I don't really have any easy access to raw milk either that's why I've been using store bought.  Thanks.


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 01:25:06 PM »
what recipe?
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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 06:39:52 PM »
Hi and welcome . . . don't throw it out!

You said that your recipe was for farmers cheese/neufchatel, there are many different types of farmers cheese, but I think you are referring to American style neufchatel which is a low calorie version of cream cheese which is a lactic acid curd cheese. Also you said your recipe says that after adding starter culture (buttermilk) and rennet to let it sit for 24 hours which means that your recipe is definitely for a mostly lactic curd coagulated cheese. More info on lactic vs rennet coagulated curds in our Wiki: Coagulation article. With your recipe after 24 hours you should be getting a very soft curd like in those pictures, you should not be getting a harder rennet coagulated curd.

How soft depends primarily on temperature, time, and how active is your starter culture, if you added fresh store bought buttermilk then you will probably as you got a very soft applesauce / little bit of whey expulsion. Most recipes using buttermilk as a mesophilic starter culture call for using pre-ripened buttermilk, which would give you more bacterial growth, lower pH, and more coagulation. With lactic acid coagulation you want a faster bacterial growth and curd set to out-compete unwanted microorganisms.

Also, you didn't mention your rennet tablet type or size/strength. Many people here have problems with using tablet rennet (uncertain of age/storage etc), Search the forum for word Tablet and you'll get lots of hist/threads. You'll want to check them out if you want to use a rennet coagulated cheese recipe next time which you need for blue cheese to get lower moisture content and have gaps in your cheese between curds for the blue to form.

As to what to do with this batch, I would use it to make a lactic acid cheese like light cream cheese, have a look at our website's Wiki Recipe for that or some of the threads on it, basically you need to hang your very soft curd in cheesecloth and allow whey to drip out.

Have fun!

Offline Saltysteele

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 07:42:58 PM »
john, you and others here, just simply amaze me with your cheese-making knowledge.  it is a bit overwhelming, how little i know about cheese making.

on a side note, the milk from walfart was the only store-bought milk i was able to get to coagulate without cacl, even though that success varied gallon to gallon.  (i'm guessing their need to produce cheaply outweighs quality control, which let some less-pasteurized milk slip through  ;) )

does your local home-brew store carry cheese supplies?  i'm lucky enough that mine does (i'm in SW MI).  they have the rennet in the cooler with the hops and wine cultures, and the cheese cultures and molds in a freezer up front.  i wouldn't have ever known they were there, if i hadn't asked.  ask them, the next time you go  :)  the first time i purchased rennet, i asked if they had rennet, the fella ran in back and brought up a pack of tabs.  i didn't know they had liquid, until the next time i went, and the gal showed me where it was kept.  they had veg. rennet, double strength veg. rennet and veal rennet (liquid), in addition to the tabs.  not only is the liquid so much easier to use (add an amount to your water, pour in immediately, as opposed to tabs: crushing and then letting sit for 20 minutes, and still not having an accurate way to tell how much is there), for the same price i can buy a bottle of the liquid and get 3 times more uses out of it.

sorry, got off on a tangent.  what i was getting at was the ability to add tiny amounts with the liquid.  sometimes you'll see a recipe call for 1/5th drop of rennet (measure out 5 tsp of water, add a drop; each tsp you take out will be 1/5th drop)(also be sure if it is noting regular or double strength, you may have to dilute or multiply your amount of rennet).  i have no idea how you would use tabs in a recipe like that.  the chevre recipes i was finding called for just a titch of rennet (chevre is a lactic coagulated)

about asking your brew shop- in the freezer with the cultures, my shop has kits for making certain kinds of cheeses, in addition to the meso's, thermo's, molds, etc.  seems like mine had a neufchatel culture (just add the packet of culture to a gallon of milk).  this is what i did with my chevre.  as i become more experienced, i'll purchase individual ingredients and do it myself, but this was just easier for someone who has no clue (me).   ^-^

however, yours might not have the cheese making stuff, but you could always twist their arm to get it  :)  it doesn't take that much room on their shelves   8)

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 11:08:28 PM »
Also, that whey on top of the curd tells me it was just right.  What you don't want to do is cut the curd with a knife, or stir it.  You want to ladle it gently into a cheesecloth or mold to drain.  The previous batch also sounded like it was close, may have needed a bit more time.  I'd suspect your second batch may have had more culture than the first, if all other factors were equal.  Shake up the buttermilk before using to get a good even distribution of it.  You're on the right track!
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Offline First Timer

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 07:32:29 AM »
Ok for a little more detail I used one of the Frankhauser recipes.  There was the one from his website and another in the Junket tablet container.  From the pictures on his website it said I should be getting a clean break that is cut but then still hung over night before the blue is added to the curd and its slightly pressed.  It has been a little cooler here lately could that be part of the reason?  The bugs not being able to do their work as well?  I'm just not sure what I need to do next time.  Should I leave the buttermilk sit out for a while to warm up before being added to the milk?  I don't think I can get liquid rennet anywhere so I need to stick with the tabs, should I use filtered/bottled water instead of tap?  I ladled the "curd" into some clean white, non-terry dishtowels to drain but there's so much of it since it didn't separate and when I lifted it up nothing was draining out.  Thanks for the help so far.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2011, 10:01:28 AM »
First Timer

With lactic acid coagulated curds you do not get a clean break. As smilingcalico says with lactic acid curd you normally do not cut it but break the curd which for small batches means ladling, see Wiki:Breaking Or Cutting The Curd.

That recipe seems to be a rennet coagulated one which presumably calls for cutting the curd after ~1 hr +/-, not after 24 hours? Temperature does play an important parameter in both rennet and lactic acid curd creation, cooler than recommended means slower/less. Next time, for blue cheese making I would follow the Wiki recipe or one of the ones in the Blue P rocqueforti Board, I'd also read several of those threads to understand the tricks and traps. I'd also increase your rennet dosage by 50%.

For using Buttermilk as your mesophilic start culture on your next batch, I'd do as per link above to heavily pre-ripen.

Rennet should be pre-diluted in unchlorinated water, I use our tap water which we have a reverse osmosis system on, which I assume does not remove chlorine, see discussion here.

For your current batch, as it was mostly a lactic curd you won't get much whey separation in the vat as you normally have just one large uncut curd. For these types of curds you normally gravity drain the whey from the curd either in baskets or in cloth. The problem with cloth is finding the right weave and material. As yours is not draining whey it sounds like your weave is too tight, thus I'd move the curd to a courser weave. Some more info in our Wiki: Cheese Cloth article.

PS: Seeing as you are currently on your second and soon to make 3rd batch, you can change your visible name from First Timer if want :D, just click on Profile in top left menu.

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: Coagulation, Rennet, Tablet - No Clean Break
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2011, 10:16:50 PM »
I second John on the various factors.  As for temp, I leave it overnight starting at 84°.  I usually find it at 77° in the morning.  The warmer, the more activity.  If you find the temp is much lower, wrap the pot in towels and/or place it in the oven (no need to turn it on, but if your house is frigid, a very quick, and low temp preheat may help) it will be better insulated. 
I still have a feeling it's really a lactic acid set cheese, but I don't bother with Fankhauser, as this is really the PREMIER site for cheesemakers (BIG THANKS TO JOHN AND OUR OUTSTANDING MEMBERS!).  While you are at Wally World, peruse the kitchen items and find a 4 pack of "tea towels".  They are excellent cheese cloths, and are hemmed too!
Definitely spring for non-chlorinated water.  If in fact your recipe is for a rennet coagulated cheese, the chlorine may have deteriorated your rennet. 
Lastly, use the search to look up "blue honey" and you'll find an excellent lactic blue recipe from Captain Caprine (I still can't help but picture Captain Caveman when I think of him).
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