Author Topic: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....  (Read 2675 times)

Offline Likesspace

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My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« on: January 26, 2009, 08:52:13 PM »
Okay guys, here's my problem.....
A little over a week ago I made a batch of Camembert and got the best curd I've seen to date.
Not only was the curd nice and firm but I also got 5 wheels of cheese out of a two gallon batch. This is a first for me, since normally I only get 4 wheels out of a two gallon make.
Well anyway, after three days out of the mold, I was getting a very nice formation of white on the surface. I honestly felt that I would be able to wrap this cheese after only 7 days.
Well now something has changed and I'm not sure what the problem is....
Where I used to have a nice white coating I now have a wrinkled looking rind forming that is a lot like you would see on a Stilton.
Also, the white mold seems to have died away, (dried up?), except for a few very sparse spots.
The only thing I can think of is that this cheese was VERY moist when I moved it to the aging cave but once it was in the cooler temperatures, it did firm up quite nicely.
I took one of the wheels and moved it to room temp for the day but nothing really seemed to change. I'm wondering now if  the cheese is in some sort of accellerated ripening period and the white has started to die back more quickly than it should.
This is a first for me so I'm at a loss.
My thoughts right now are to go ahead and wrap this cheese within a day or two and see what comes of it.
Btw.....
When I took these wheels out of the mold they were fairly smooth.
As you can see from the pics, they are nothing even close to smooth now.
It anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it.

Dave


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Offline chilipepper

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 09:21:41 PM »
Dave... it's alive.. IT'S ALIVE!!  :)

Certainly unusual, maybe too much or too little moisture in the cave? What temps and humidity were you letting it grow at?

Offline LadyLiberty

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 01:54:03 AM »
Dave... it's alive.. IT'S ALIVE!!  :)

Certainly unusual, maybe too much or too little moisture in the cave? What temps and humidity were you letting it grow at?

Isn't all cheese alive?

That being said, Dave, that's pretty strange, I have no advice, but I have to say you may have won the prize for the most alien looking cheese.  I know little consolation, but it certainly is one of the weirder cheeses I've seen... I DON'T think I'd try it.

Offline LadyLiberty

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2009, 01:55:48 AM »
It's almost as if certain groups of bacteria have sucked themselves into the cheese and are pulling the rind with them into it. 

Offline Tea

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2009, 03:16:58 PM »
In another post on camemberts (John's I think) RRR was talking about slip and also a condition called toad skin, (had a french name for it).  Now I would definately say that your's has the toad skin look, but I would also say that another mould has taken over the original mould as well.
The use of GEO is supposted to stop the slip and formation of the toad skin look, and salt rubbed into the area of mutant moulds is supposed to stop them spreading.  I think that maybe your's might be to far gone, but it would be interesting to see if rubbing the surface with salt, kills off the mutant mould?  I mean, what have you got to lose?
I also agree with LL, I don't think that I would be eating these.


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 07:21:54 PM »
Chili...
LOL!
It does sort of look like some sort of large electrically charged brain! That cracked me up.
Tea and L.L....
The strange part is that these wheels were covered with a nice thick white mold only a couple of days ago. I really have no idea why that mold would have died off and this wrinkly surface made it's appearance.
Two of the wheels look pretty good. They do have a couple of spots that still need to fill in with mold but all in all I am happy with them. These are two that were not nearly as moist as the rest.
The other three look pretty much like this example. Just flat out nasty looking.
I'm an adventurer but I'm not sure I could ever eat any of these three. I might go ahead and wrap them up, just to see how they ripen but I'm not sure I could actually try eating them.
The other two.......well, I might give them a try if things look and smell okay at the end of the aging process.
You know, I really hate it when I have a batch of cheese fail and this time is even worse since this was the best looking curd I've ever gotten.
It pained me greatly to post pics of this example since I usually only post pics of my successes.  ;)
At least it was only a two gallon batch. I guess it could have been worse.
Oh, one more thing.....
These nasty looking cheeses have a very strong ammonia smell coming from them. The aging room is not nearly warm enough for this to happen, but it is happening regardless.
I've decided that Camembert is the most tempremental cheese I've ever tried to make, so there's no doubt I will be trying many more batches in the future.  This has no gotten personal.  :D

Dave

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2009, 02:39:37 AM »
I wouldn't toss it just yet. Let it ripen some more then crack it open and if it smells of then just disect it and see if you can see what went wrong.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2009, 05:35:18 AM »
My 2 cents:
  • I would try eating it, will probably give you a better idea as Carter said of what is possibly wrong.
  • Either the rind is expanding (improbable) or the pate is shrinking (probable). The only way for the pate to shrink is from drying or mice but you dont report a hole ;). You didn't mention your aging room's humidity but as you said your curds were very moist. Thus I suspect the root cause is over moist curds resulting in drying shrinking Pate and abnormal coat.

Offline LadyLiberty

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2009, 06:02:47 AM »
My 2 cents:
  • I would try eating it, will probably give you a better idea as Carter said of what is possibly wrong.
  • Either the rind is expanding (improbable) or the pate is shrinking (probable). The only way for the pate to shrink is from drying or mice but you dont report a hole ;). You didn't mention your aging room's humidity but as you said your curds were very moist. Thus I suspect the root cause is over moist curds resulting in drying shrinking Pate and abnormal coat.


What about the strong scent of ammonia?

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2009, 06:56:28 AM »
I wish I could contribute here, but I got nothing.  I do have a question though.

I've never made a Camebert,  but my Mother is now requesting one.  Based on the threads here,  what is the relative level of difficulty of this cheese verses a cheddar or gouda?
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas


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Offline John (CH)

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2009, 07:48:39 AM »
Wayne, in my limited opinion, in theory it is a straight forward simple cheese to make but in practice from my and other's posts, it is finicky as subtle changes in making and aging conditions do not give optimal performance.

L.L., thanks, missed that, when researching this cheese I made a Camembert Recipe Tricks and Traps webpage where based on that research I put down that Ammonia smell was normally only from overripe Camembert, which some people prefer ;). So as Dave's Camemberts are only ~10 days old I'd say that the process has gone sideways on him. If they were mine, I'd cut one open now and try a length wize slice out of it :). If want to age more, just squish the two halves back together, OK not optimal but it could work.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2009, 12:24:34 PM »
First of all, thanks everyone for the replies.
I am still up in the air as to what I'm going to do with these little cheeses...
The nasty looking ones will probably end up in the trash since the ammonia smell is pretty bad.
There are two others that look much better....one looks absolutely normal while the other one is filling in nicely and never got the wrinkly look of the above example.
One other cheese is still pretty sparse and has some of the wrinkled rind but nothing like the photo. I did choose by far the worst of these cheeses for my photo.
None of these wheels have the ammonia smell...it is only coming from the two really bad wheels.
I think John has hit the nail on the head with his post...
These cheeses (the two really bad ones) were not just moist, they were wet when they went into the cave.
The others had varying degrees of moisture and I'm sure these are the ones that look okay.

Wayne, this is my third batch of Camembert and up until this point my cheeses were getting better and better.
My first batch had a problem with overripening at the rind due to too warm of a ripening temperature.
My second batch is now at the stage where they are very soft at the outer edge and quite soft towards the middle. The only place that does not yet have this softness is a very small area in the middle of the cheese, and the taste is wonderful.
If left at room temperature for a half hour the cheese runs out onto the saucer at the edges and the innner parts sort of "sag" out of the rind.
It really does look nice.
My problem.....I am now down to only one wheel left from this batch.
As John said, I would not consider this a hard cheese to make yet it can be very temperamental.
I'm still not sure what I did wrong on this batch but I don't want to do it again.
I hate having a failed cheese and the main reason I will probably pitch the two worst wheels is simply so that I don't have to look at them.
I can handle failure, but I can't handle having to see my failures over and over again.  :)
Again, thanks for all of the responses.

Dave

Offline Tea

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2009, 02:00:48 PM »
Dave I agree with your sentiment that this is now personal.  I am determined that I am going to get this to work, but I need to be able to age them at the proper consistant temps, and that is my biggest downfall at the moment.  So until I get a proper cave setup, I am resisting the urge to make any more.

Wayne the cheese making part is very simple and fairly quick.  It is from there that the variables start to come into play, temp, airflow, mould formation, ammonia gas release, ripening at optimal temps, and correct wrapping, unfortunately all play a part in getting this cheese right.  At any point, it any one of these things is not correct, as Dave found out, things can go AWOL very quickly.
Whereas if you don't quite hit a gouda on the head the first time, you usually have something that is edible. If camembert start to go wrong, you most likely won't have anything to eat in the end.

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2009, 02:35:22 PM »
sounds like a challenge.
And this falls in line with Likespace's earlier thread about small changes to your process
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline chilipepper

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Re: My latest batch of Camembert is doing something weird.....
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2009, 06:00:02 PM »
I fear the subtle changes in this beast are all in the details of aging. If you can be diligent and control all the aspects that is where you will have repeated success.

This book is also incomplete but does give some good information in the parts that are there.

Camembert: A National Myth

One thing they do mention is Penicillium Album which give a white rind that turns to grey. Just a thought....