Author Topic: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion  (Read 3549 times)

Offline milkybar kid

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Hi,  been doing lots of reading on here for the last 2 weeks and picked up lots of info, thanks to you friendly bunch.

Iv'e read along the way that certain cheese molds should have maybe a certain amounts holes for different cheeses?

I have access to ss containers very cheap, the size is cylindrical, 17cm high with a 10cm diameter, i have drilled random holes in the bottom but not yet the sides.I have made a wooden follower from a wood cheeseboard.

What i'm asking is anyone with photos( close up) of a mold of a similar size showing the holes, so i can make a rough assumption of what to drill, and let me know what each mold is for, or is there an easier way, does each mold really need to be that specific?

Is my mold, when redrilled at the side useful for pressed and non pressed cheese? i would say yes, sorry i'm just starting out with my new hobby, and being unemployed need to do everything the cheapest way possible, without sacrificing my cheese.
My homemade screwdown press is nearly done, my 16litre pan should be here soon, as should my lipase from the states, thanks to a member on here then i am ok to go.
Just like the info on the molds. thanks.


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Offline Gürkan Yeniçeri

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2011, 03:36:47 PM »
Hi Milkybar,

There is a simple balance between the holes and the pressure. Less holes means you need to apply less pressure in the beginning and gradually increase to the required weight so that your cheese does not develope a thick outer layer which will lock in the whey before draining properly.

All of my molds has lots of holes, I prefer little holes (like 1mm) and lots of it so that I can drain the curds naked.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 08:16:37 AM »
I have pvc molds and have just made drainage holes along the lower edges of them.  It's all in personal taste.  I do start at a lower pressing weight and gradually increase, as Gurkan says.

Offline fied

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 06:31:08 AM »
Like MrsKK, I hve pvc straight moulds, open top and bottom, in various sizes for hard cheeses and brie and camembert types, but don't bother to drill holes. For soft and chevre-type cheeses, I have a number of yoghurt pots and cut-down pvc tumblers in which I pierced holes in the bottom and sides. I also have a square mould, made of slotted pvc sides, cut down from a storage box. I've also used, on occasions, terracotta flower pots with a little pvc mesh over the bottom hole, which really drain the cheeses well. It's easy to get the kinds of moulds you want very cheaply and with some experimentation if you're on a restricted budget.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 06:30:25 PM »
milkybar kid, as above depends on cheese type and what you are trying to do. If you click on the pictures twice in our Wiki: Hoops & Molds article you'll get really big/high resolution pictures.


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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 02:22:06 PM »
I don't understand why all these mould hacks when you can get inexpensive ones out there for any cheese.

As John said, it really depends on what you want to do.  For example, French style Crottin has a few weeping holes in it. It drains slowly because it relies on a rather dry curd because the curd for that recipe traditionally pre-drains in a cheesecloth for a good few hours before being moulded.  On the other hand, Italian style goat's cheese (Caprino) has an almost similar recipe but they skip the cheesecloth and go right to the mould.  This is why they have very high flow moulds that look almost like a strainer. Bottom line, the number of holes and flow has to do with what you are trying to do; what size is the curd and how fast do you need the draining to be (faster is not better; it just depends what cheesse you are making).

Offline fied

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2011, 05:00:22 PM »
On the whole, and considering how simple they are to make and from cheap materials, too, the commercial varieties are overpriced. Traditionally, farmers made their own, or had them made up locally from whatever was to hand - wood, clay, etc., so I see no reason to indulge the sometimes exorbitant mark-up of middlemen, particularly as I'm only interested in home consumption. I'll continue to make, or adapt, my own, much as I do with cheese recipes.

An example of traditional, purpose-made moulds? My family's farmers made a 3-layered soft cheese called Cambridge Cheese. The moulds were wooden planks with slots cut into them at intervals so that short boards could be inserted, making each separation an oblong mould. To keep the forms steady, the whole lot was built in a stretcher table that had whey drainage channels. Curds were ladled over the forms and hand swept to fill the moulds to the brim. After making, the wood was put into boiling water, some washing soda added, then scrubbed (as was the table), rinsed and stood on its sides until the next make. Planks were easily replaced by buying fresh wood already cut to size and the slots and separators were cut on the farm. Nothing wrong with the traditional method, or hygiene, there, I think.

For hard cheese, the moulds were made like traditional wooden barrels, of thick slats of wood. They were cooped with iron by the local blacksmith; the iron was then painted to stop it rusting, but they were scrubbed up in much the same way as the plank moulds after use. They were the only moulds that weren't fully made up on the farm.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 05:19:41 PM by fied »

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2011, 07:50:45 PM »
Overpriced??? I carry dozens of moulds here, starting at $1.75 a pop. We are talking industrial food-grade polymers (HDPE or Polypropylene) rated for 10-30 year durability in a commercial environment.  They are accurate, predictable, always consistent and make beautiful cheese. Unlike wood, they don't grow any bacteria and molds on them (and cheese is far more susceptible to contamination in moulding time than aging), they also don't resist the good cheese bacteria and mould (another thing that wood can do). The material is durable, dishwasher safe, non-porous, neutral and non-reactive. It doesn't leach any chemicals or gas into the foods.  That's a bargain anyway you look at it!

Don't get me wrong, I love old traditional methods and I am not a freak of sanitation. I age much of my cheese on exposed raw wood planks, wood shavings, straw and hay.  You are talking to someone who is gradually doing away with many of the lab-manufactured cultures (because I am finding local bacteria on my own here, extremely traditional) But not all traditional is good. Over the years we humans have replaced many of the materials and methods we use with newly discovered ones that work better. For example, over the past few decades public buildings and transportation systems all over the world replaced wood and porous materials with polymers and stainless steel. It is durable, looks nice and most importantly -it doesn't pass disease and contamination amongst the public who touches it, sneezes on it, etc. Cost benefit analysis is simple.  We also changed the windows in our houses and offices over the past 50 years.They are no longer traditional pure glass but rather a sophisticated polymer-based mullti-layered, shatter-resistant, UV-protecting compound (often gas-pressurized for insulation in cold areas too). Does it make our houses less charming? does it make a mockery out of traditional building practices? Of course not. It just makes  more practical sense.

Purpose-built moulds really add consistency and value to the cheese, and do so at a miniscule cost. Moreover, they virtually eliminate very common contamination risk point without altering the cheese (and help eliminate other cheese defects such as uneven/fast/slow drainage, lopsided pressing, size/shape/weight consistency, etc.). In other words, it is the same exact traditional cheese, just lower failure rates.  In fact, even in the EU where traditional cheesemaking is a holy grail, regulations now prohibit more and more wood and wicker moulds as part of a move to standardize production in a uniform pan-European code (ISO9002, HCAAP, A-3 material compliance, etc.) In nations where the people go out on strikes because their cheese didn't get a D.O.P Status and they feel their history will be lost -the regulators expected a big rebellion of traditional cheesemakers. What they discovered is that in reality the majority of EU cheesemakers have already moved to polymers and stainless steel over the past 5 decades anyway. It just works.

The other thing is that a purpose build mould have a form factor that considers what you want to do with the cheese and its draining or pressing characteristics. I didn't start with them going into cheesemaking and was quite good at hacking my own from tupperware, cheese boxes, colanders and what-have-you. Switching to all commercial cheese moulds a few years back was a "hallelujah" moment for me. I have never had a crooked press, an under-drained cheese, an inconsistent batch, a lopsided wheel, low yield for a given volume or anything of that kind since. It even fixed issues of slip skin because I didn't realize that slow flow trapped moisture in my cheese while a rind was building up. I kicked myself for a while for not doing it sooner and ending up with unpredictable imperfect cheese blaming the recipes etc. when in fact it was just a matter of using a good mould.

Sorry for blabbering for so long...

Offline happywandererbek

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2011, 08:25:05 PM »
Hi there, am a newby to the wonderful world of cheesemaking.  I'm gradually improving my supply of gear to make cheese with but...... I've been using plastic coated clothes airer sections to create a board to keep Camemberts on while they get their lovely white coats.  Just got a marvellous new pine dowel rack instead (courtesy of marvellous partner).  I'm assuming that it must NOT be sealed in anyway (eg estapol or other poly varnish).  Any comments greatly appreciated.  (BTW, would love to get all geared up with purpose made equipment, just will take a while to happen cashwise.......) Cheers

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2011, 08:51:13 PM »
Hi happywandererbek and welcome to the forum.  I suggest you start in the introduction section. You will be happy to know that there are tons of other New Zealanders here. (probably the most active members for size of country here)

I am not sure which plastic you are using for your platform right now but not all plastics are the same and are suitable for food.  For wood, yes; only use wood that is raw and not varnished, coated, washed etc.  Many woods are treated with petroleum products. Not only is this a bad combination with cheese; it smells too (and cheese tend to absorb the aromas of wood on which it is aged)


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Offline happywandererbek

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2011, 09:20:32 PM »
Thanks heaps for that.  This is my fourth batch of camembert - gotta love them wee babies in their fluffy bum stage!!  Will treat my wood with zero detergent and lots of hot water scrubbing and sunshine to dry...... Cheers

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2011, 09:24:07 PM »
Yes. And if you need to remove foreign molds or contamination from it, use salt rubbing and vinegar on the affected spot and around it

Offline happywandererbek

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2011, 09:31:47 PM »
Man, I've been scrubbing only up until now - vinegar and salt are soooo much more sensible!  Thanks hugely.

Offline fied

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 03:56:45 AM »
"Overpriced??? I carry dozens of moulds here, starting at $1.75 a pop..."

That maybe the case in the US; it certainly isn't for the home cheesemaker in the UK.

Yes, there's a point to purpose-made moulds. There's also a purpose to adapting both cheese recipes and moulds. Price here is one of them, inability to replicate terroir is another, inability to replicate quality of milks and creams is a third, inability in a home kitchen to keep things as sterile as a dairy would, and so on. In fact, all that home cheesemakers can ever produce, if they're experimenting with cheeses from around the world, or making do, is cheese types, not the real thing. That's fine by me; I'm not looking to be Glasgow's champion cheesemaker. I'm happy to concede that it's not fine by other people, particularly those who want to sell their cheeses. Toleration in all things, I suppose, is my motto.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Cheese Molds - Whey Weep Hole Density & Size > Straw Mats Discussion
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 03:15:00 AM »
One can find solutions to all of these problems and overcome them.  I know some of these things take a while to resolve when making cheese at home but they can be resolved.

What part of the UK are you at?

If there is any mould that you need, PM me and I will see what I have. I can probably get it cheaper to you than what you pay for it there.