Author Topic: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing  (Read 1315 times)

Offline jlewis92

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Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« on: March 05, 2012, 10:48:55 AM »
Hi,

New to cheese making and hit my first problem. This post will be a little long as I'll try to include all of the pertinent details I am aware of. I do not measure TA or pH yet.

Previously, I made two 4 lb cheddar wheels following Morris' recipe. Everything went as planned and at 5 and 4 months respectively, samples of each are really tasty. Texture, taste, appearance, aroma...all very nice. However -

On my third attempt, I tried to make the port wine variation from 200 Easy Recipes (Amrein-Boyes). The make was the same as my previous two batches up till the soaking in port part. After 24 hours in the press, I took the cheese out of the mold and I could see that the individual milled curds where barely fused together. They would better be described as loosely stuck together and broke apart easily into the individual milled curds from light handling.

I didn't know what to do except to try to repress them. I placed the loose curds in my double boiler and warmed them to about 95-98 over about 30 minutes. A recut most of the partially flattend curds into more slender pieces again. After warming them, I put the 6" mold into the press under 300 lb pressure (10.6 psi) where it remains. I am planning to check it in 24 hours, redress it and continue to press as needed. I skipped the preliminary press weights because I was concerned about the temp dropping two quickly as cause of problem and I guessed that having already been pressed for 24 hours, I wouldn't be expelling more whey by jumping straight to the max pressure for my system.

1) Is it possible to  salvage the cheese in this way?

2) What went wrong? Was it only a case of more time needed in the press? If the pressure was adequate for the first two wheels (they were actually done at 7.8 psi), what would be the reason for lack of fusing this time?

3) How to avoid this in general for regular cheddars (did I just get lucky with my previous attempts?

4) For port wine cheddar specifically, is it ok to soak the milled curds prior to pressing per the authors instructions or is the lack of fusing common with this approach? What is proper technique to add port wine or porter or stout in hard cheeses?

I am concerned that soaking the curds in port wine did something to affect the fusing that normally occurs. Has anyone used the 200 Easy port wine recipe / technique with success or is this an idea that maybe wasn't tried out by the author? I warmed the port before soaking the curds.

Outline of the make below. (temps and times were all hit very closely)

4 gal Snowville whole cow's milk, non-homogenized, pasteurized (same as previous batches)
warmed to 86
Ripened for 45 minutes
added 3/4 tspn CaCl
added 12 drops anatto
1/2 tab rennet
Clean break at 45 minutes
Cut curds, rested 5 minutes
cooked curds to 102 F over 50 minutes
Rested 40 minutes (texture test was so so at 30 minutes, but good at 40 min)
drained, stacked, rotated slabs over 70 minutes
cut slabs to 2" x 1/4 ribbons
Soaked in warmed port for 30 min (temp settled at 98)
Drained for 5 minutes
Tossed with 1 tblspoon salt
loaded into mesh lined mold
Pressed at 0.7 psi (20 lb) for 30 minutes
Pressed at 7.8 psi (220 lb) for 2 hours
Pressed at 10.6 psi (300 lb) for 22 hours

Pressing was done in my basement which was 66-68 degrees. Previously pressed on first floor at 68-70.

Any help is appreciated.



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Offline Cloversmilker

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 10:05:58 PM »
This is exactly what happened to me when I tried the same recipe.  Did you soak at room temperature as I did?  If I were to try the recipe again, I would 'cook' the curds in the port wine instead of letting the temp drop.  I would also consider cutting the curds a bit smaller after the port wine soak.  It also seemed to me that the port wine affected the surface of the curds and prevented fusing. I don't know enough about the chemistry to know if this was really the case.  Maybe someone with more knowledge will help us out.   

I rescued my curds by refrigerating them until the next day, when I made the curds for a stirred curd cheddar, milled the port curds to about the same size, combined at cooking temp, and then pressed.  The resulting cheese looked (and smelled  ;)) very nice.  The curds all fused very well.  It is now in wax aging.  Here it is just after coming out of the press. 

Offline jlewis92

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 11:06:43 PM »
Thanks for your reply. Your re-pressed cheese looks great. I love the marbling.

I warmed the port first because it seemed a bad idea to let the curds fall to room temp. The temp with the port and curds settled in around 97-98. But I lost temp during draining and tossing with salt. Not sure of temp going into the mold.

Any thoughts as to whether or not it will work without the addition of fresh curds?

I will post results when they are available.

Offline Cloversmilker

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2012, 11:12:08 AM »
My guess is that your approach should save the cheese.  There are some cheeses that are pressed, milled, and then pressed again.  (I'm thinking of Cantal, but there may be others.)  The final pressing should be done at super high psi however.  So throw all the weight you have at it and hope for the best.

I'm hoping that someone with more knowledge comments on the effect that port soaking has on the surface of the milled curds. 

Offline jlewis92

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 03:39:47 PM »
I didn't have much luck fixing the port cheddar. The curds partially knitted but didn't in many places. You can easily see the outlines of the individual curds everywhere and for about 20% of the surface, there are cracks or completely separated curds that are only partially stuck together. I will vac seal it and throw it into the cave. Can I still age this for 6-12 months or must it be consumed young?

Whether or not it was the port causing problems, consensus from other posts seems to be that more psi can overcome some of these type of issues. To this end, I have set myself to building a pneumatic press. Maybe a regular lamp or heat lamp could also help to keep my thin flexible plastic mold warm?


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Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 04:44:53 PM »
Port wine has a very low pH (something like 3.4 from memory).  I would chalk your lack of fusion up to curd surface pH being too low, either from over cheddaring or, more likely, soaking them in port.

I have never seen a cheese made with a recipe like that.   The reason is primarily that you won't get a true port flavour in the cheese since you are adding it prior to maturation.  Cheeses soaked in alcohol like this are done after maturation, either by soaking the entire wheel or by milling the wheel, soaking in alcohol and repressing at very high pressures.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2012, 05:01:23 PM »
When you add port, or wine, any type of acidic thing (port is 3.5 pH or less), it's like you're pouring sand in between all the curds. You can't fuse it if there's sand unless you can press at 2,000+ PSI (not a typo. And even then, will have some issues). If you want to fuse it, you need to make a mortar. You can do this chemically by adjusting the calcium and pH of the port, which IMHO is pointless, as the port flavor will go out by the time the cheese ages. Or you can age the cheese, add port to a more lactic curd mix with low water activity, mix it all in so the calcium in the curd buffers the port, and press just like Francois suggested.

Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline jlewis92

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2012, 08:53:48 PM »
Thanks all. This would explain why Cloversmilk's rescue attempt succeeded (he remilled and combined with fresh curds) while mine did not.

Clover I think went 50 / 50 aged cheese to new curds. Is there a rule of thumb on the minimum amount of fresh curds to use to get a cohesive knitted wheel? Is the more lactic to help the fresh curds match the flavor profile of the aged cheese? For low water activty, do you do more stirring/cooking of the curds or some pre pressing?

Since I learned the hard way with the port, can you advise if there are any similar issues with adding hot peppers to the curds prior to pressing?

Offline Cloversmilker

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Re: Cheddar Curds didn't fuse after pressing
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2012, 09:16:35 PM »
Thank you for the explanation.  Apparently Debra Amrein-Boyes didn't test all the recipes in her book. 

So the port flavor will age out of my cheddar?  Rats.  How long do you recommend aging mine before cracking it open to try? 

Mine had slightly more remilled curds than fresh curds in the final press.  It's a whale of cheese, weighing in at the 8 to 9 pound range.