Author Topic: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?  (Read 1570 times)

Offline NW Fromager

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Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« on: October 22, 2011, 12:21:17 AM »
As I begin getting my equipment together, I'm starting on my hoops and followers.   I just got some 6" PVC pipe and cut it into three hoops, two 7" high and one 9" high.

I've noticed that some hoops I've seen here and elsewhere have no holes (such as antique wooden hoops), while others have holes spaced about an inch apart, yet others have many holes, almost amounting to a perforated mesh.

Is this a matter of preference, style of cheese desired, or what?  Thanks for your input.
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2011, 12:50:26 AM »
There have been a number of extensive discussions here in the past over the usage of PVC. I would highly suggest to refrain from using it. It's not food grade and poses some serious health implications in contact with food.

As for the weeping holes - it really depends on the type of cheese you are making. Cheese moulds are made with a certain number of holes to allow the proper volume of whey to drain from a cheese within a specific range of time best suited for that cheese. My suggestion is to spend a few bucks and get proper food grade polypropylene cheese moulds. They are worth it and easy to get. Moreover, you will eliminate one more possible failure factor and never have to blame an improper cheese mould for a cheese that didn't work out.

Generally though, most cheese moulds would need holes. Like I said - we need to know what cheese you want to make if we want to find the correct hole pattern.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2011, 06:34:35 AM »
NW Fromager, there's also some info summarized in the Wiki: Hoops & Molds article.

I also made some pressed cheese hoops from white PVC and followers from polyethylene cutting board and used them on my first few cheeses before I knew better. As iratherfly recommends, I've since upgraded to manufactured purpose built ones and junked my old kit.

Offline NW Fromager

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2011, 02:41:42 PM »
Thanks guys, that answers my question about the holes.

Regarding the PVC, I did read the wiki and a number of the threads here regarding the pros and cons, and after a bit of research, reading MSDSs and so on, I decided the risk was minimal at worst and opted to use it for the time being. 

There are many different types of PVC in use, including the cling wrap used throughout the food industry.  From what I've seen, the primary toxic culprit in the material is not the PVC itself, but the phthalate plasticizers added to it in many applications in order to make it flexible: shower curtains, furniture, car interiors, kids toys, inflatable what-nots, etc.  While I've found many articles about the dangers of these types of vinyl leaching and off-gassing, I'm not finding anything about PVC piping, which is designed specifically to be inert in contact with a wide variety of strong acids, alkalis, salts, alcohols, etc.

Given the short amount of time the curds spend in the hoop, I'm willing to take the risk for now (until I can afford to lay in a stock of proper hoops) but I sincerely appreciate your input and concern. 

Cheers!
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2011, 05:33:35 PM »
Why not simply pay a few extra dollars and get HDPE pipes?
One of the main reasons I would use PVC and favor HDPE is melting temp and sanitazation.
PVC cannot be sanitized in boling water since it melts which HDPE can even withstand going thrugh a pressure cooker for complete sterilization (Although I've never tried and think i'l ever try it since boiling is sufficient)
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Offline NW Fromager

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2011, 05:43:35 PM »
I looked all over for 6" HDPE, but couldn't find it.  Home Depot had a 24" piece of 6" PVC for a few bucks.  PVC melting point is 390°F, so I can definitely boil it.  Gotta sterilize before I use them anyway, so I guess we'll find out!  ;)

P.S. I'm sure I'll settle on an avatar soon. Sorry to be bouncing all over.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2011, 07:13:42 PM »
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Offline NW Fromager

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2011, 08:15:24 PM »
It all depends on what type of PVC and what other compounds it's been mixed with for a given application.

;)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 08:23:04 PM by NW Fromager »
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2011, 06:31:18 AM »
There is a great difference between max. operating temp and processing temp (at what temp the matirial is moulded).
Its very much possible that the product will lose its shape at 100c , you should buy a small piece to try out before spending all that work.

You wont find HDPE at home depot.
You should try a technical plastic store which serves the industry.
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2011, 06:03:54 PM »
It is my understanding that the cling wrap industry had moved to a new type of polymer that is PVC free because of these exact reasons (that's why cling wrap doesn't stick as well as it used to, say 12 years ago)

HDPE is really easy to find... just use Tupperware and make holes in it!  You can also use an HDPE bottle (like the ones used for sauces in restaurants) and cut it. 

My worry is that by the time you will be done you will end up with a semi-functional cheese moulds that will cost you just as much as genuine one, importend from France costs. Why get the pipes, do the work, have cheese issues because drainage is too fast or too slow (especially a problem if you are new to making cheese and don't recognize an improper whey flow when you see it) -and then in a few months throw it away to get proper moulds and spend the money once again? I mean, the cost of milk for your very first batch will be more than those moulds... (and if you are planning on purchasing cultures for cheese making, then most culture dealers also sell moulds so buy it in one purchase and combine shipping costs. You will get it all together)


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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2011, 11:22:50 PM »
I know of many factories that use heavy PVC for hoops.  After a few boils in CIP I'm sure there's nothing left to leach out of them.  The factory I work at uses some stainless hoops but the problem is after industrial use they tend to not be round anymore, so we use PVC.  They require no maintenance, where the stinaless ones have to go out a few times a year to be made round again at a machine shop.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2011, 01:35:10 AM »
PVC? You past inspection in Connecticut with PVC moulds???  It is so illegal where I am, only about 200 miles from you.

The problem is that they do leach and they are somewhat porous, and that every time they are exposed to heat or pressure they begin to re-leach. I don't get it. You can get French food-grade PP multi-moulds with 25-30 year lifespan for dirt cheap for a factory; why would you do them out of building construction materials?

Anyway, how have you been doing? Haven't seen you on in a while!

Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2011, 12:03:12 AM »
Ha, no not in CT, although I doubt the inspector there would care.  I was actually refering to New Zealand.   Moulds here, of any kind, are expensive.  Some of the specialised ones are downright unaffordable.

Have you ever seen an industrial CIP bath?  I sincerely doubt there is anything left to leach out of the pipe after going through one of those.  It's essentially a steam injected boiling bath of caustic solution followed by a boiling acid soak.  Compared to that curd at 110F seems very mild.

Offline NW Fromager

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2011, 12:48:21 AM »
Okay, I must have been looking in the wrong places before or maybe I was only looking at expensive molds, but I just found out how crazy-cheap molds and hoops are in some places.  I'll be picking up a few.

Out of curiosity François, what temps are your PVC hoops exposed to, for how long, and how do they hold up?
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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Hoops: Holes or No Holes?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2011, 12:25:28 AM »
The caustic bath is steam injected and 100C.  The acid bath I'm not sure, but it's hot enough I wouldn't put my hand in it, plus it would probably dissolve skin.  These baths are designed to remove any trace of organic matter on equipment and are pretty effective.