Author Topic: Questions - Mature Cheese Taste/Aroma vs Cultures & Making Warming Milk, Curd Size, & Temperature Co  (Read 1189 times)

Offline Annie

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Hey, Everyone!!!!
I took a break from making cheese after last summer, and my daughter was kind enough to give me a highly recommended book (as opposed to my previous book) which has been very helpful :)

But I still have questions, and will ask only 4 of them now :)

1. I am making cheese from my raw milk from my cow. To be honest, it all ends up with a similar sort of taste and smell. Is that to be expected from the milk? I have used a variety of cultures (thermo, meso, yogurt, buttermilk) so I don't think it's the cultures. I am thinking that maybe different cheeses developed in different places because of the different tastes of the local milks? In which case I am thinking I should shoot for perfecting cheeses which go with my milk rather than trying to get the various tastes of various cheeses--does that make sense?

2. How do you raise the heat of the curds at the rate of 1 degree F over 2 minutes? (I have a lot of trouble with this!)

3. How important is it that the curds all be the same size, since all the directions I have tried give me different sizes?

4. How important is it that to have everything be the temp they suggest? My (10th) thermometer is not all that accurate, and sometimes I have just gone with some things I know (like I know at 120/F it will start to sting my skin a bit, and that 176/F on my thermometer is a higher than 176/F because of the mess the yogurt came out to be). But honestly: all these precise temps, like 176, 88, 86, 94... I wouldn't even be able to swear that my entire batch of milk was all the same temp (altho I stir when taking the temp) at any particular time!

Thanks very much!!!!

Annie

Offline hoeklijn

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Hi Annie,

I'll try to answer your questions as good as I can from my own experience.
First of all, it's no rocket science! Working clean is the most important thing IMHO.
1. What kind of cheeses are you making? There will be a significant difference between blue cheeses, white mold cheeses and rind washed cheeses. But also (semi-)hard cheeses can have a variety in taste, also depending on how long they are aged, how they are pressed, what herbs you add etc. etc.
2. Depends on how you work. Working au bain Marie you have to add hot water. I'm using an electric kettle and from experience I know when to switch on and off. Also working au bain Marie is a matter of experience. And log what you are doing, otherwise you will forget.
3. Again, it's no rocket science. Generally you can say that the smaller the curd, the more surface there is for the whey to drain, so the drier the curd will become.
4. One of the charming things of artisan cheese is the variety, also in what is supposed to be the same product. When I buy cheese at my local cheesefarm different batches of the same Gouda of the same age will taste differently. And what is causing that difference? The combination of differences in temperature, volumes of additives, morning or evening milk or mixed milk, temperature in the storage, differences in the brine etc. etc. And what will always taste the same? Cheese from a factory because everything in computer controlled. If you really want to be more accurate buy a digital thermometer. I have one that also has a clock, so it's easy to control how long it takes to rise 1 degree...

I wish you success, don't be afraid to ask and to experiment.
- Herman -

Offline dthelmers

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1. I am making cheese from my raw milk from my cow. To be honest, it all ends up with a similar sort of taste and smell. Is that to be expected from the milk? I have used a variety of cultures (thermo, meso, yogurt, buttermilk) so I don't think it's the cultures. I am thinking that maybe different cheeses developed in different places because of the different tastes of the local milks? In which case I am thinking I should shoot for perfecting cheeses which go with my milk rather than trying to get the various tastes of various cheeses--does that make sense?

The different cultures should make a difference, as will the other aspects of the make, but the milk makes the biggest difference. Finding what style best suits your milk is the way to go. Try some different styles, such as a tomme, a washed curd tomme, a Gouda, a Cheddar, maybe a Caerphilly, and see how they work with your milk.

Quote
2. How do you raise the heat of the curds at the rate of 1 degree F over 2 minutes? (I have a lot of trouble with this!)

I use a vat in a water bath. I heat the water with a hot water heater element; another way would be to use a sink and add hot water as needed, but my setup reliably raise the temperature 1°F every minute it runs.

Quote
3. How important is it that the curds all be the same size, since all the directions I have tried give me different sizes?

The curd size will determine the final moisture content of your cheese, along with how long or hot you scald the curd. I aim for a particular size in any given make, but there is always some variation.

Quote
4. How important is it that to have everything be the temp they suggest? My (10th) thermometer is not all that accurate, and sometimes I have just gone with some things I know (like I know at 120/F it will start to sting my skin a bit, and that 176/F on my thermometer is a higher than 176/F because of the mess the yogurt came out to be). But honestly: all these precise temps, like 176, 88, 86, 94... I wouldn't even be able to swear that my entire batch of milk was all the same temp (altho I stir when taking the temp) at any particular time!

I have the best success when I try to follow the temp guidelines closely. I use a brewing thermometer that I bought for $15, and I calibrate it regularly. I always find temperature variants in the milk, but they disappear after I start stirring the curd

Dave in CT

Offline Annie

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Hi Annie,

I'll try to answer your questions as good as I can from my own experience.
First of all, it's no rocket science! Working clean is the most important thing IMHO.
1. What kind of cheeses are you making? There will be a significant difference between blue cheeses, white mold cheeses and rind washed cheeses. But also (semi-)hard cheeses can have a variety in taste, also depending on how long they are aged, how they are pressed, what herbs you add etc. etc.
Thanks so much, Hoeklijn :) I have made feta, what I call American Muenster (I don't have the red stuff), Parmesan, Pecorino (many ways), English Farmhouse, and a couple of others. (I know some of these call for a different kind of milk.) I will carry on :)


Quote
2. Depends on how you work. Working au bain Marie you have to add hot water. I'm using an electric kettle and from experience I know when to switch on and off. Also working au bain Marie is a matter of experience. And log what you are doing, otherwise you will forget.
Ah, I will have to try doing it differently. I was using a double boiler (what we call a bain Marie) but always found out too late it was heating too quickly or had gotten too hot. I will try adding water as DThelmers suggests.


Quote
3. Again, it's no rocket science. Generally you can say that the smaller the curd, the more surface there is for the whey to drain, so the drier the curd will become.
I was concerned that having different sizes in one batch would cause a problem, but I guess it evens out!

Quote
4. One of the charming things of artisan cheese is the variety, also in what is supposed to be the same product. When I buy cheese at my local cheesefarm different batches of the same Gouda of the same age will taste differently. And what is causing that difference? The combination of differences in temperature, volumes of additives, morning or evening milk or mixed milk, temperature in the storage, differences in the brine etc. etc.
:-[ I know I shouldn't want the exact same thing, but I guess I was judging the cheese based on that, which was kinda dumb of me  :-[ So now I won't worry about it!

Quote
And what will always taste the same? Cheese from a factory because everything in computer controlled. If you really want to be more accurate buy a digital thermometer. I have one that also has a clock, so it's easy to control how long it takes to rise 1 degree...
Sigh... 3 of my old thermometers were digital. Someone on here recommended a good thermometer which I am saving up for :)

Quote
I wish you success, don't be afraid to ask and to experiment.
Thanks so much for your help!

Offline Annie

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The different cultures should make a difference, as will the other aspects of the make, but the milk makes the biggest difference. Finding what style best suits your milk is the way to go. Try some different styles, such as a tomme, a washed curd tomme, a Gouda, a Cheddar, maybe a Caerphilly, and see how they work with your milk.
Thank you very much. I am going to do that!

Quote
I use a vat in a water bath. I heat the water with a hot water heater element; another way would be to use a sink and add hot water as needed, but my setup reliably raise the temperature 1°F every minute it runs.
I am going to experiment with this too.

Quote
The curd size will determine the final moisture content of your cheese, along with how long or hot you scald the curd. I aim for a particular size in any given make, but there is always some variation.
So nice to know it's not just me :)

Quote
I have the best success when I try to follow the temp guidelines closely. I use a brewing thermometer that I bought for $15, and I calibrate it regularly. I always find temperature variants in the milk, but they disappear after I start stirring the curd.
Calibrating the thermometer was how I found out how off it was. You have a brewing thermometer and it works out? Do you mind if I ask what kind it is? I do try to follow the temps given, but right now, I am not at all sure how close I'm getting.

Thanks so much for your help :) These were things which kind of made me nervous when I made cheese, so now I will be more relaxed!

Offline zenith1

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Annie-welcome home! As the others have already commented the culture will and do make a difference in flavor and aroma. I know that you mentioned the different types of cultures that you use but an important thing to realize is that not all mesophilic cultures are the same or are thermophilic cultures either. You need to pick carefully to arrive at your desired flavor and aroma profile for a specific cheese. Also you can use adjunct cultures like L. Helviticus which is also a thermophil to move in the direction that you want. I have attached a chart the was graciously provided by another member's hard work. Look through it and decide what types that you will need to attain your desired cheese. You will not necessarily use the same type of culture for every cheese that you make. Try searching the forum for the type of cheese that you want to produce and see what types of cultures are being used. You can then use that as a jumping off point to create something of your own.
Keith

Offline DeejayDebi

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Welcome Annie.Nothing much to add here just wanted to say hi. I think the important think for a new cheese maker is just to practice technique for awhile. Temperature control curing cutting, strirring, seeing the curd for what it is, soft- delicate and wet - as opposed to firm- rubbery and dry, looks at your textures and colors, take note of the ease or difficulty to which the whey is released and it color and texture. There are a lot of telltales when making cheese. One just had to look.

Offline dthelmers

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Annie,
I don't know what brand it was, I'll try to remember to see if there's a mark on it when I'm home. It is just your regular thermometer except that it has a long stem and a good clip, so I can get it in the center of the milk without touching the bottom of the pan.
I also had a digital thermometer with a probe, the one that Alton Brown always uses. I liked it because it beeped when at target temperature, but I found that it lagged a bit: it would suddenly wake up and register several degrees higher than it had just showed. For other things I use those cheap pocket thermometers. They're great, but you need to calibrate them all the time, but that's pretty easy, just stick them in ice water and turn the nut a bit. I use them now and then to check that my main thermometer is not just stuck in a pocket of hot or cold.
Dave in CT

Offline Annie

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Annie-welcome home! As the others have already commented the culture will and do make a difference in flavor and aroma. I know that you mentioned the different types of cultures that you use but an important thing to realize is that not all mesophilic cultures are the same or are thermophilic cultures either. You need to pick carefully to arrive at your desired flavor and aroma profile for a specific cheese. Also you can use adjunct cultures like L. Helviticus which is also a thermophil to move in the direction that you want. I have attached a chart the was graciously provided by another member's hard work. Look through it and decide what types that you will need to attain your desired cheese. You will not necessarily use the same type of culture for every cheese that you make. Try searching the forum for the type of cheese that you want to produce and see what types of cultures are being used. You can then use that as a jumping off point to create something of your own.
Thank you so much--the chart looks very helpful :) This will be exciting!

Offline Annie

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Welcome Annie.Nothing much to add here just wanted to say hi. I think the important think for a new cheese maker is just to practice technique for awhile. Temperature control curing cutting, strirring, seeing the curd for what it is, soft- delicate and wet - as opposed to firm- rubbery and dry, looks at your textures and colors, take note of the ease or difficulty to which the whey is released and it color and texture. There are a lot of telltales when making cheese. One just had to look.
Thanks so much--this is really good advice for someone who leaps in to do everything at once  :-[ :-[

Offline Annie

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Annie,
I don't know what brand it was, I'll try to remember to see if there's a mark on it when I'm home. It is just your regular thermometer except that it has a long stem and a good clip, so I can get it in the center of the milk without touching the bottom of the pan.
I also had a digital thermometer with a probe, the one that Alton Brown always uses. I liked it because it beeped when at target temperature, but I found that it lagged a bit: it would suddenly wake up and register several degrees higher than it had just showed. For other things I use those cheap pocket thermometers. They're great, but you need to calibrate them all the time, but that's pretty easy, just stick them in ice water and turn the nut a bit. I use them now and then to check that my main thermometer is not just stuck in a pocket of hot or cold.
Thanks so much :) May I ask, you said you calibrate your thermometer in ice water--do you do boiling water as well? Because that was where mine went off, I couldn't get it to do both accurately. Unfortunately, I think when I decided to calibrate to boiling that was a mistake because I use more lower temps (Duh!!!<<<to myself!) Thanks again!

Offline Caseus

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Annie, I'm not experienced in cheesemaking yet, I'm only just about to wax my second cheese.  But I thought I'd mention that my Thermapen from Thermoworks is accurate, and is easy to use for cheesemaking.

Offline dthelmers

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Annie,
I don't know what brand it was, I'll try to remember to see if there's a mark on it when I'm home. It is just your regular thermometer except that it has a long stem and a good clip, so I can get it in the center of the milk without touching the bottom of the pan.
I also had a digital thermometer with a probe, the one that Alton Brown always uses. I liked it because it beeped when at target temperature, but I found that it lagged a bit: it would suddenly wake up and register several degrees higher than it had just showed. For other things I use those cheap pocket thermometers. They're great, but you need to calibrate them all the time, but that's pretty easy, just stick them in ice water and turn the nut a bit. I use them now and then to check that my main thermometer is not just stuck in a pocket of hot or cold.
Thanks so much :) May I ask, you said you calibrate your thermometer in ice water--do you do boiling water as well? Because that was where mine went off, I couldn't get it to do both accurately. Unfortunately, I think when I decided to calibrate to boiling that was a mistake because I use more lower temps (Duh!!!<<<to myself!) Thanks again!
No, I just calibrate to freezing and they seem to work just fine, agreeing with the more expensive digitals. I would probably calibrate to boiling if I were using for temperatures in that range, but for these low temps I think it works fine. I also only calibrate me pH mater to 4.0 and 7.0, not to 10.0 as some do, and my practical results tally with my pH readings.
Dave in CT

Offline beechercreature

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On a semi-related note. I calibrate to boiling fairly often. I don't boil water just for said purpose, I just use stick the thermometer in something that I happen to be boiling anyway. In my case it's most often beer, but veggies, eggs, whatever else you would be boiling would work just fine.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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If calibrating to boiling, you need to compensate for elevation if you want to be accurate. There is a lot of difference between boiling at sea level or at 8000 feet.
A moldy Stilton is a thing of beauty. Yes, you eat the rind. - Ed
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