Author Topic: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press  (Read 4099 times)

Offline Likesspace

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Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« on: January 30, 2009, 08:08:26 PM »
As most of you know, I got a new cheese press earlier this week. Well once Friday rolled around I couldn't wait any longer.
I decided to make a 5 gallon batch of parmesan to test this thing out and so far I am well beyond impressed.
Please  a look at my photos and let me know what you think.
Not only what you think of the press (which is beyond cool) but the process itself.
This is the first time I've tried a step by step representation of any cheese I've made.
First couple of pics are of the break I got and the first cutting of the curd.....
More to follow.........


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 08:20:04 PM »
Continuing on.....
After cutting the curd, I decided to get a little rough.
Quite honestly, this might be the understatement of the century since I really treated this curd as if it was a rented mule.
I not only cut this curd I abused it. I used my whisk like a slavemaster would use a whip.....yeah, I got medeival on this sucker.
The reason I treated the curd so severley was to get the find texture that professional parmesan makers get.
From everything that I've read, the final curd should be the size of a grain of wheat. Well from growing up on a farm I know just how small that actually is, so I didn't cut the curd any slack.
Here's a couple of pics of the curd, during the cooking phase and of the whey at draining. I'm really pleased at how clear the whey was at, at this point in the process......

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 08:27:33 PM »
.....Okay, so the whey is partially drained and the sterilized and warmed mold is waiting.
I made sure that I kept the curd under the whey until I was ready to place it in the mold.
I did this becasue all of the parmesan videos show the curd going into the mold, straight out of the whey. I tried to stay as close
as possible to the professional process in the homemaking envirnoment.
Here's a shot of the curd in the mold and another after the press has been set up.
Have I mentioned that I truly love this cheese press?

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2009, 08:36:40 PM »
......Okay, so everything is set up and ready to go...
Now all I have to do is stack on a bunch of weight and then wait a few minutes so that I can remove all of the weights and then repeat the process.....
But wait!
I now have a pneumatic cheese press that doesn't require all of that work.
All I have to do now is flip a switch and I'm ready to go.
So, here's a pic of my "weight stacking" and of the switch that is used to make the whole process work.
One thing that I did have to learn....
The switch MUST be left in the "on" position or the pressure will not stay on the curd.
Once I figured this out, I found that no matter how long the cheese is in the press, the pressure will remain the same.
Also, After nearly two hours in the press the pressure in the air tank has not even dropped a full pound.
The only time that the pressure would not remain the same as set, is if the air pressure in the tank dropped below the pressure needed on the cheese.
Since my tank pressure has not dropped at all in the past two hours, I don't see this as ever being a problem.
So, here's the pics:

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2009, 08:45:33 PM »
.....
So, once the cheese was in the press, the waiting game began.
I was still a little leary as to how the press would do over time.
Well I can now say that after nearly four hours in the press, the pressure still has not dropped off on the tank,  but  the cheese itself is getting rid of a lot of whey.
Also, the press is just as tight, on the cheese, as it was at the beginning.
Not to be repetetive here, but this press is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I simply can't put into words the high rating it deserves!
So, here's a shot of the whey draining off of the custom made drain board and the cheese at the first flip (after 30 minutes).
It will be another several hours before I'm able to post the finished product.


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2009, 08:53:21 PM »
Oh, one more thing of great importance....
I really don't like the fact that these photos make my hands look both hairy and fat.
I'm looking at them right now and they look neither hairy NOR fat.
I think it must be some type of photographic artifact that is not a true representation of the original.
(yeah, I have sexy hands in real life)
Okay, nuf said.
 ;D

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2009, 03:42:20 AM »
I'm glad you said it so I don't have to...about the hands that is.

I'm glad you are enjoying the press. Did you find that any whey, using surface tension, ran under the drain board, even though the press rocks forward? I tested it but didn't give it a lot of time as I had to ship it off to a very anxious person. I thought of machining the front edge and right under the drain gap on the underside so whey won't run under.

Sounds as though you got a usuable product. I don't know if I mentioned this in Wayne's post on Parmesan Questions, but as far as my experience and recipes go you cut the curd into 1/4" pieces and then cook it to release whey and bring the curd to the 'rice' size. If you chop it up early on it will release more whey and make very hard curds such as the ones in "the brick". I also need to stress the rest period after cutting. Having said that I can't remember if I did a rest period which would allow the curds to release a lot of whey early on because the cut curds didn't form a sort of skin. NOW having said THAT I base this on "the brick" and using my first incarnation of the auto stirrer and it chopped up the curds pretty bad, not blender like, but still gentle. And the cuds came out very hard, but it was the batch I let ripen for 3 hours as a test so the curd set up very very well, so that could be the problem with the hard curds, but realizing the little steps that are important now logic makes the former part of this paragraph more likely in a real world sense. That means probably both irregularities played a part, but next time who knows.

P.S. BTW very nice set! What milk and cream and quantity? How much rennet? CaCl2 and how much? Ripening Time? Set Time after adding rennet?
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2009, 07:17:27 AM »
I guess I should have given a little more information about the make, so here are some stats (and thanks for our comments):

1. 5 gallon batch. 1 gallon whole store bought milk and 4 gallon 2% milk. Warmed in 90 degree water bath for approx. 4 hours. Then transfered to double boiler set up and raised the milk to 100 degrees F.
2. I did not add cream to this batch due to it being a reduced fat cheese
3. Added 1/2 tsp. Thermophilic Starter and 1/4 Tsp. Italian Starter and let ripen for 45 minutes at 100 degrees F.
4. Added 1 tsp. 30% calcium chloride solution, diluted in 1/3 cup of water RIGHT before adding the rennet. This was a new step using advice from Chilipepper.
5. Added 1/2 tsp liquid vegetable rennet, diluted in 1/3 cup of water and let sit for 45 minutes.
6. Cut curd into approx. 1/4" cubes and let rest for 15 minutes. (I do think this is probably the best feeling curd set I've gotten to date. The break really did look perfect).
7. Began raising temp. to final 130 degree temperature. This took right at 45 minutes. Held Curd at this temperature for another 30 minutes.
As for cutting the curd, I did get really rough with this, but no matter what I did, the curd would not reduce much in size, due to the cutting.
The curd was firm enough that even though I was whipping through the curd, they still held their shape and stayed pretty close to the 1/4 inch size.
After the cooking, I do feel that I achieved my goal of having very small pieces of curd, pretty much the size of a grain of wheat. Also, they were very firm little pieces.

So, in another few minutes I'll be taking this out of the press and putting it into a whey brine.
The press did hold pressure perfectly overnight and the wheel looks really nice, at least from what I can see through the mold. I'll snap a pic before placing it in the brine and once I remove it.

Dave

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2009, 07:20:09 AM »
Oh Carter....
I just checked and there was a SMALL amount of whey on the countertop, below the drain board. This could very well have been the result of spilling a bit when dumping the plate. While watching it drain last night, the draining board seemed to perform perfectly.

Dave

Offline Tea

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2009, 02:56:19 PM »
Thanks Likesspace, that was very informative.  After wrestling with my press over the weekend, I am definately ready for something new.


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Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2009, 03:54:28 PM »
Dave this is not a comment on you as I have the same problem. The knitting on yours seem as though its not that great. I have the same problem. Any ideas how we can get this cheese to knit better. I mean after all the reading and research so Parm makers press other do but only hand press with a weighted follower and all of the parm I've ever had looks to be one solid chunk. ON ONE LINK though, I think Wayne posted, it shows them putting a partially aged Parm on a pottery type wheel and almost sanding and scraping to get a good looking rind. So maybe it's only the surface curds that are open looking?

Again your set looks great. I have an experiment, btw I like how you used a gallon of whole milk, how about using a gallon of the good milk in my next batch. So 12 gallons of 2% and 3 gallons of the Past/NON HOMO milk and see if that's like a crystal, when you grow a crystal you need another crystal for it work off of. Maybe the good milk will gives a predictable set everytime?
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline chilipepper

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2009, 04:05:25 PM »
Dave, I'd definately like to see this one out of the final pressing.  That is a mighty fine looking cheese you have there.  We definatly must have very similar pots as there is no way you could do an extra quart in there! :)

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2009, 07:44:26 PM »
Tea, Carter and Chili....
First of all, thanks for the comments. This is my first "real" attempt at a parmesan and I'm pretty excited about how it turned out.

The first pic I posted ,of the wheel, is after only 30 minutes of very light pressing. Below, I've attached a couple of pictures of the finished product (Parmesan on the right and a Romano from Saturday on the left).

Honestly Carter, this curd knitted together as well as any cheese I have made.
After brining, the cheese is very firm and almost shiny on the surface. I think I might have nailed this particular cheese (not so much from having a great amonut of skill but probably due to beginner's luck and a LOT of reading before giving it a try).

As I said in another post, your (Carter) press design worked perfectly and Tea.....I know exactly what you mean about being ready for something new.
I was so sick of stacking and un-stacking weights only to either have them tumble off in the middle of the night or end up with a lop-sided cheese due to the weight shifting. It was really nice going to bed and waking up with the press exactly as I had left it.

I think this will be a cheese I make on a regular basis until I get a better feel for the process. I was very happy with my final curd size (see the pic at the end of the cooking process and notice the tiny size of the curds on my hand) and I really think this might be the key to getting the curds to knit together. Also, I did keep the cheese under the whey right up until I loaded it into the mold and once I started loading I moved as quickly as I possibly could.

Carter...
One thing I'm going to try is making either a Cheddar or a Gouda using a mixture of 2% milk and whole milk.
Every single time I've used 2% milk I get a break that is out of this world. I'm also thinking of trying a mixture of 2% and whipping cream to see how that works out.
One thing I have noticed....
Every time I get a good curd set, the entire process goes so much easier and better. It's easier to hit the cooking temps and to get the proper final curd size.

The Romano on Saturday was made due to a mistake...
I started out making a Cheddar but added Thermophilic culture by mistake.
Once I realized my mistake I started digging through my recipes to find a Thermophilic cheese that had the same starting temp. as the Cheddar. Well Romano was the first one I came across and thought "What the heck....it'll be a grated cheese weekend".  :-)

I really did have fun making these cheeses and the press made it all the more so.
Man, I really love trying to perfect this craft.

Dave

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2009, 07:53:21 PM »
As you can see, these cheeses have a LOT of character (at least according to Wayne).
Man I hate those bumps.....
The parmesan went throught the final pressing without cheese cloth and the Romano had cheese cloth throughout the entire process.
Honestly I can't tell a lot of difference since those damn bumps are on both wheels.
Also, there was no "shaving" of the bumps with these wheels. The surface of the cheese was so firm that it left divots each time I tried to trim them off. I finally gave up and just put it in the brine.
Oh well, in 10 months time, who will care about the bumps?  :-)


Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Parmesan...Step by Step Process with a Review of Carter's Press
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2009, 01:49:24 AM »
Dave I hope everyone in your house feels better, I noticed your children have chicken pocks... :D

I've just orderd some fine food grade plastic mesh to use in place of cheese cloth. If it works I'll talk to you about it.

P.S. Did you notice the part about them sanding the wheels?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 01:54:26 AM by Cartierusm »
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.