Author Topic: Please help with coagulation/clean break!  (Read 1122 times)

Offline daviddeen

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Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« on: January 24, 2012, 04:54:25 PM »
Please help a newb!  I've made paneer for years, and recently made homemade yogurt successfully, but I've just started to try a rennet cheese for the first time, and it's failing.  I'm trying to make David Fankhauser's neufchatel, but instead of getting a clean break, I'm getting a mass of slime that I call Moo-cus.  If I can find a way to market it, I can make millions, but until then, I need help figuring out what's wrong.

So my ingredients are:
1 gallon of store-bought pasteurized whole milk
1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
1/4 tablet Junket rennet
calcium chloride (BrewCraft brand)

Technique: (as according to the recipe) I add the buttermilk to the milk in a sterilized pot and heat it to 67'F, stir in rennet dissolved in cool water, and let it sit overnight undisturbed.

On attempt #1, I followed instructions to a T and I never got close to a clean break the next morning. What I did get was a potful of disturbingly slimy Moo-cus (TM) with only a slight amount of whey separation.

On attempt #2, I added 1/4 tsp calcium chloride to the milk before heating it, thinking that was the problem.  I got something closer to a clean break, but not quite, and a few inches below the surface was the same Moo-cus as before.  I decided to go ahead and strain it to see what would happen (what could I hurt?).  After many hours of draining in a cheesecloth-lined colander, I got something somewhat reduced enough to hang.  I let it hang for almost 24 hrs in a fridge and got something like thick sour cream, kinda flavorless, and, yes, mucusy.

On attempt #3, I researched rennet and found out a) I need to use distilled water, and b) I should add the rennet as soon as it's dissolved. So I did those, not dissolving the rennet until the milk was up to temp.  I also increased the calcium chloride to 1/2 tsp, since it had seemed to help some in batch #2 and, as everyone knows, more is better.  ;)  The result is more of a crumbly break and something resembling better curds (better separation of curds from whey) but still not completely successful.

What do I do now?  More calcium?  More Junket? Please help!


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Offline John (CH)

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 08:18:02 PM »
Hi daviddeen, welcome!

Looks like you are trying to make American style Neufchatel, which is basically a low calorie cream cheese as you use milk. This is a mostly lactic acid coagulated not rennet coagulated cheese and thus you will not get a good rennet curd set or clean break. There is some info in our Wiki: Coagulation Article on the different types of coagulation.

You should be getting a very soft set after which you ladle the weak curd into cheese cloth and then hang to gravity drain the whey. There's some info in our Wiki: Curds, When To Cut Article and some info in our Wiki: Breaking Or Cutting The Curd Article on ladling the lactic acid curd. Lastly there's some tricks and traps in our Wiki: Light Cream Cheese / American Neufchatel Making Recipe that should help as well as many threads on this cheese type in the FRESH LACTIC ACID COAGULATED - Normally Whey Removed Board.

Have fun!

PS: When you start to make rennet coagulated cheese, search the forum for "Junket" and "Tablet" to get some info on dosage rates. If you fail to get a clean break when making rennet coagulated cheese, just proceed to use that batch to make American Neufchatel.

Offline daviddeen

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 10:09:21 PM »
Hi John, thank you for the reply.  Yes, it's American style Neufchatel, aka light cream cheese.  I'm using this recipe:
http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/neufchatel/neufchatel.htm

He uses it as an intro to rennet, but by the sound of what you said, A) Neufchatel shouldn't use rennet, and B) rennet used in this manner isn't a good introduction to how it's normally used?

Or do you mean that, even though it uses rennet, that isn't the main source of coagulation?  So looking for a problem with the rennet is looking in the wrong place for an answer to my problem, aka I need to get more lactic acid development?

I'll go read the articles you pointed me toward, and thank you for doing so.  But if you could clarify my questions above, I would appreciate it.

Thank you again,

David

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 05:28:40 AM »
Semi Lactic cheeses are called semi as they primarily use a starter culture ie buttermilk over 12-24 hours depending on temperature to convert lactose in the milk to lactic acid which creates a very soft coagulum and also use a small amount of rennet to aid forming the coagulum.

Had a quick look at the link and you will normally not get a semi-lactic curd with a clean break that you can cut. Maybe his method uses enough rennet to get a full rennet curd set? I don't know tablet dosage rates, if you search on Junket you'll find other's dosage rates. Junket and other tablet forms of rennet are fickle as you'll see in other posts, mainly I think as you can't tell the storage conditions or age and thus the strength of your tablets varies significantly. On your next batch you could double the amount of rennet if you want to follow his method.

Offline george (MaryJ)

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 06:40:37 AM »
The slimy might also be from the milk - try a different brand?
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Offline dthelmers

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 07:33:41 AM »
You might have two different issues going on here, as you are using two ingredients known to vary in strength. Do a search on Junket tablets, and you'll find that they are not always reliable. Store bought buttermilk can vary a lot also in the amount of viable culture in it. See this thread for a very good photo essay by Sailor Con Queso about mother cultures. You can do this with your buttermilk to get it back to strength: http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,5165.0.html
Or it may just need to set longer. I always leave mine for 24 hours, and I also use a higher temperature. I'll attach my recipe, which came about from all the great advice I received here.
Dave in CT

Offline daviddeen

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 10:17:41 AM »
Thank you to all of you!  This is starting to make more sense.  I'm going to give it another try today, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Offline daviddeen

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2012, 10:03:07 PM »
Thank you guys, especially the explanations and reading material links from John.

After reading all of it, I realized that the recipe was low-balling the temperature (and I was making it worse by letting it set at night, when our house gets cold).

So I made two changes:
A) I used a half gallon of milk but kept the rennet at a 1/4 tablet, effectively doubling it in the recipe.
B) I found out what temperature kills buttermilk and raised the milk to just a few degrees below that, then let it set during the day.

Result:
A much thicker light cream cheese that drained much better/more quickly (no slime in sight!) and with a much richer flavor.  Since it doesn't taste bitter, I think doubling the rennet was the right thing to do.  But I think the warmer temps really helped the buttermilk cultures develop the right flavor and create more coagulating lactic acid.

It didn't have as clean of a break as batch #3, but your comments also made me realize that I was expecting more of a clean break than this kind of cheese is going to give.

So again, thank you guys for the help!

David

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2012, 09:42:47 AM »
Glad you got better results this time.  When I make this type of cheese in the winter, I put my crock of milk inside a larger kettle and fill the kettle with hot tap water.  I put a lid on the milk container and cover it all with a towel.  It seems to help maintain the temperature just right.  I do my cheesemaking in the basement and in the wintertime that room can be anywhere from 54-60 degrees.

Offline dthelmers

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 11:16:56 AM »
I do something similar. I have a cheeses vat that holds four gallons of water, and a steam table pan sits in that. I put a cover over the steam table pan and it holds temperature quite well.
Dave in CT


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Offline Boofer

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2012, 07:33:18 PM »
You can also put it in your oven with the heat off and the oven light on. The heat from the oven light should be sufficient to do the job.

Also, the milk should not be ultra high temperature (UHT) or similar.

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Offline anutcanfly

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Re: Please help with coagulation/clean break!
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2012, 08:26:39 PM »
Great tips!  I was wondering how to keep my draining Chaource warm tonight.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 08:35:28 PM by anutcanfly »
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