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CHEESE TYPE BOARDS (for Cheese Lovers and Cheese Makers) => RENNET COAGULATED - Hard Cooked (Swiss) => Topic started by: Mike Richards on September 12, 2013, 11:15:57 PM

Title: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 12, 2013, 11:15:57 PM
Questions first:
- Why do I use a wooden board for washing?  I know I should, but I don't know why.
- Is 6.3 a good pH target for draining/hooping? (Not that I'll hit it, it's just nice to know what I'm aiming for)
- I'm still unsure about brining these big cheeses.  I'm doing another 12 gallon batch, expecting around 11 - 12 lbs.  If I do thickness times weight will that get me the right salt content?  I expect it to be about 4.5 inches thick, so around 50 hours in the brine?
- I'm debating whether to do a salt washing or a wine/brine wash.  Suggestions?  We don't drink wine, so if I do that, what do I get?

I'll post on the make tomorrow...hopefully.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Tiarella on September 13, 2013, 06:13:03 AM
I am impressed as all hell at your big batches.  Have I missed photos of your huge parm style?   :o. Is your modified sink being amazing for these huge batches?
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 13, 2013, 09:34:07 PM
Tia--you should wait to impressed when I actually try one from the big batches and see if it is any good.

Today's make had a couple of interruptions that likely ruined the cheese.  The first led to my nephew having to take over the cheese making.  He did a great job of following my hurriedly given instructions.  Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him to to turn of the heat and the controller after adding the rennet.  I don't know how hot it go, but the bottom of the vat got pretty hot--so much so that when I was cutting the curd, I could feel the difference in stiffness above the heaters.  Then, the second interruption led to the curds sitting at 120F for about 10 minutes.

We finished the cheese, but even though it appears to knit fine, when I've taken it out to flip, the skin tears very easily.  I'm hoping that pressing it longer will magically fix that problem, but I have very little confidence.  Even if I can get it in the brine without it splitting, I'm pretty sure it will break apart in there...I'll share a photo when it does.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Tiarella on September 14, 2013, 06:20:39 AM
Oooh, sorry you got interrupted!  That happens mostly by me having to go do chores here.  I never have enough time to get through a long cheese make without needing to leave and the best I've gotten is leaving it in the press for too long on it's first or second pressings.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Tiss on September 14, 2013, 09:47:14 AM
I hate it when that happens. I likely ruined 2 gal of Jersey last week. The curd didn't set in time, which meant that I had to leave it while I went to my son's little league game. It was way acidic by the time I got home. I tried to do a couple things to stop developing any more acidity, but I'm not expecting anything good :(

Hopefully yours will be a happy accident- something you can name after yourself that will transform the future of cheese!!! (or at least taste okay on a cracker).  :o
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: High Altitude on September 17, 2013, 11:01:20 AM
Well, I do know that a dry, hard gruyere (my first ever make that was too thin and then I basically "killed" the rind by my overzealous brushing to remove any and all semblance of growing molds) makes a wonderful, if slightly too salty, grating cheese.  You'll enjoy it no matter what.

Kuddos to your nephew and his efforts.  Be sure to give him a nice big chunk of the final masterpiece!

...and it goes without saying that eventual photos are a MUST  ;)!
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 17, 2013, 11:06:59 PM
I've been washing it since Saturday (Tuesday now).  I'm not seeing much of a schmier developing, but I think that's because I can't seem to keep it wet.  I've got the humidity fairly high (85%-95%)--high enough that molds are growing a lot faster on my other cheeses, but this one keeps drying out.  I've got it covered with a bowl, but I think I need enclose it a little more tightly.

[img width= height= alt=gruyère at 4 days of washing]https://scontent-b-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/537002_397304433728336_53106773_n.jpg[/img]
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on September 18, 2013, 05:10:59 PM
wish I would have seen this earlier.

Standard for Gruyere AOC in Switzerland is to brine it for 20 hours or something around there, if you brine it 50 hours, you are getting more into the range of Romano or Parmesan as far as salt is concerned -mountain cheeses aren't that salty, because you have to carry the salt up the mountain yourself.

I remain skeptical of pH targets, at least for Alpine type cheeses, the pH changes during the make process are pretty minuscule, most acidification occurs in the press and during aging. I've found that if you follow your time targets on these cheeses, you are going to do pretty well about every time.

Wood will help with moisture -you wash the board with brine, it gets colonized with BL and coated with alcohol, it absorbs water and slowly releases it back into cheese. Also curd doesn't seem to want to stick to wood so much.

If you don't have wine, any alcohol will do. If no alcohol, then vinegar will work too, especially a wine or cider vinegar. The idea of the wash is that the alchol (or vinegar) is sterlizing, but the BL can survive it.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: High Altitude on September 18, 2013, 05:51:22 PM
That is SO cool Mike!  What kind of wine did you use for the brine wash?

p.s., you should seriously consider drinking wine....it's a wonderful thing! :o
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 18, 2013, 07:06:56 PM
Thanks for the answers, Alp.  I got a pretty low yield (9.5 lbs) and ended up only leaving it in the brine 25 hours, so hopefully it will still be closer to a alpine.  I did buy some wine (first time in a liquor store--interesting experience.) and have been using it to wash the cheese.

HighAltitude--I'm not sure what kind of wine it is.  It was the cheapest, small portion of wine at the store.  It looks like an oversized juice box.  The whole being Mormon thing limits my inclination to try wine, though the smell was not terribly appealing to me, either.  But, when the church decides alcohol is okay, I'll try some to see what I think. ;)
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on September 18, 2013, 08:32:16 PM
Don't worry, some of us who wash our cheeses in wine also happen to be Mennonites

To avoid going to a liquor store or down the liquor isle, I just make my own.

We had a couple gallons of our fresh cider turn a bit hard from setting in the sun (oops) and I'm thinking about making some spiced hard cider for brining my Mutschli, like an Appenzeller
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 19, 2013, 09:59:16 PM
Making my own wine for cheese washing will have to go on my list of things to learn how to do.  Right now it's behind making really good cheese, ice cream, and (eventually) cured meats...oh, and bee keeping...and effective gardening...and canning...
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on September 20, 2013, 10:29:10 AM
It's really not hard at all.

And if you press cider, It's easier to make hard cider than to make not hard cider some thimes  ???  The stuff turns to alcohol quite easily.

Maybe some time, I will put up a thread about how to make an entirely homemade wash brine

We use our own wines and solutions of local wild fruits, for the most part. I've got a few gallons of wild grape wine aging away in the cellar, waiting to be smeared on the cheese. These will make for a very dark purple, almost black, rind, a very interesting look.

I'll fiddle around with spice mixtures for hard cider, and see if I can come up with something that to me tastes Ostschweiz or like east Switzerland, where this is often what is used (Appenzeller, for example)

Westschweiz and in the Berner Oberland, they use white wine pretty well exclusively. I think as you move north Toward Bern and especially to the wine regions around Zürich, you see more colorful wines used to wash cheeses. Honestly a great deal of what separates many regional cheeses in the German speaking part of Switzerland is how the are treated AFTER they come out of the press.
You have a class of cheese called Winzerkäse, which is the wine-maker's cheese. It can be anything, just these are specially treated with quality wines.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: High Altitude on September 20, 2013, 12:23:29 PM
I grew up a Seventh Day Adventist, but (fortunately) my parents didn't strictly abide by the "no drinking, no dancing, no smoking and be vegetarian" rules....though we did make our own gluten for "meatloaf" a few times!  So anyway today, I also make my own (red) kit wine (still a novice).  I need to make some white though as I'd like to do white-wine washes before venturing into the bolder red washes. Today I pick up my chocolate-raspberry port kit order.  Sorry, I digress.

Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: DrChile on September 22, 2013, 12:57:17 AM
Alpkäserei - you know the joke about fishing with mennonites?

Go fishing with two mennonites and you'll have all your beer left over.
Go fishing with one mennonite and you'll have no beer left over.

Trent
(a Holmes County Ohio Mennonite who's setting down roots in Cincinnati, but at times longs for the country living of his youth)
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 22, 2013, 10:59:55 AM
Alp--I planted some apple trees when first got to this house (2 years ago).  Our harvest so far has been 10 apples...better than the 2 cherries I got.  I'll have to wait until I stay somewhere for more than  2-3 years before I can get good return on my fruit growing efforts--that or buy a place that already has established fruit trees.

I'd be interested in seeing your "entirely homemade wash" post as well as hearing about how the apple cider wash turns out.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on September 22, 2013, 01:06:16 PM
I'll work that up some time, maybe later this afternoon, maybe 2 months from now  :o
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 22, 2013, 09:37:23 PM
When you get to it, I'll enjoy it.

I'm on day 9 of washing.  Even though the meter reads 85-93% RH, the cheese hasn't been staying wet. I moved it to a more closed off environment within the cheese and it is finally getting a little slimy today.  Unless it's a bad idea, I think I will continue washing it daily until it's more slimy.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Spellogue on September 22, 2013, 09:47:56 PM
I was raised Catholic.  We drink vehemently.
I still drink quite happily, but I'm a recovering Catholic. 

BTW do the Swiss ever use beer in the wash?
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: High Altitude on September 23, 2013, 10:52:54 AM
I've been beer washing a Coriander-Orange Peel Trappist for a few weeks now.  It never got slimy though, just tacky.  Anyway, I've reduced to 2-3 washings a week just to keep the bad spotty molds at bay.  I have no idea if I'm doing anything right with this one though :-(.  One thing I have discovered is that even the worst makes (almost always) still turn out to be edible cheese  ;D.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on September 23, 2013, 11:22:13 AM
Homemade post is up somewhere else, in the ingredients section.

Also, I don't know of any beer-washed Swiss cheeses off hand. Beer isn't that important in Switzerland, wine is the alcohol of choice for the most part. But since there are over 450 different styles of cheese in this small country, I am sure one of them at least uses beer...

Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on September 29, 2013, 10:42:21 PM
I've been washing this for quite a while now, but haven't seen any b linens growth (at least, I haven't seen any color change like I expected).  I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong or if I just don't have any naturals floating around in my house.  In any case, I think I'll stop washing here soon.  I'm a little uncertain how to do that, though.  Even though I wash the wood with each washing, the cheese still sticks, and I'm concerned that once I stop washing it will stick even more.  I'm thinking of putting a cheese mat between the cheese and the board while I let it dry it out.

[img width= height= alt=wet washed cheese]https://scontent-b-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1382197_402720119853434_1959441207_n.jpg[/img]
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: JeffHamm on September 30, 2013, 12:37:22 AM
Looks good.  You'll have wild b.linens around, they are on your hands.  It will colour up in a couple weeks.  I've often found that the colour comes in after I've stopped washing.  Nice job.

- Jeff
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Boofer on September 30, 2013, 08:33:23 AM
Sweet-looking cheese, Mike!

I've done the mat on the board deal...works great.

-Boofer-
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: High Altitude on October 01, 2013, 10:35:06 AM
That looks amazing, Mike.  I also cannot get b.linens to grow here.  I even washed mine for an extra week with the slimy stuff, and all I get is freckles of other colors and an odd neon yellow spot (on my most recent port salut).  I just keep washing (a couple times a week) with the salt-water brine and hope one day that I'll get some red/orange.  I'm going to order another type next time, and hope for some "desired" colors.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on October 01, 2013, 06:51:15 PM
OK here is the deal with BL

if you have slime, you have them. Color is not indicative of BL, it is just indicative of certain strains. You who have these problems just have a dominant strain native that doesn't happen to produce a deep color early on, but I assure you it will be noticeable as the cheese matures.

Spots also are fairly common in 'wild washes' and may be indicative of a fungus or yeast, but most often just mean you have a few varietys of BL or similar bacterial cultures growing on the surface. This is common in Europe, and it too will diminish with time.

The deep colors of wild BL cheeses often come out with time -after a few months of drying time, they will turn into more of a golden brown (never looked into this, it is likely either due to a switch in metabolism or perhaps a different strain of bacteria takes over in dryer conditions)

Unless you are lucky, you are NOT going to get red or orange out of wild BL. If I want color to my rind, I achieve this by tweaking my wash ingredients. If I want red, I use something with some reddish hue to it (like cider) if I want purple, I use red wine, etc. If you are picky about getting colored BL rinds, you may be best to colonize your wash with a commercial culture.

All washing for an extra week will do is generate a thicker rind, which for most people is not desired. Think of it this way, the more wash you do, the more slime you make. That slime dries out and a new layer form on top of it. SO if I wash for 14 days, I will get a heavy crusty rind once it dries out. Unless I am going to age this cheese for 5 years, there is no need for me to wash it that long. Your BL have colonized the cheese almost always within the FIRST DAY, maybe the second day if your cheese is isolated in a ripening box. From this point on, washing duration just thickens the eventual hard rind.

10 days is the guideline for most aged cheeses, if you only want 4 or 6 months, you could wash for 7 or 8 days and be fine. If you want a 2 or 3 month cheese, you could probably get away with 5 days.

Mike, your cheese most certainly has a well developed wild BL rind, this looks precisely like what our cheeses in Switzerland look like when they leave the initial washing and go down into the aging cellar. Just watch as it dries, the color will come then. The first phase, as I have before pointed out, is slimy and nasty and somewhat unappetizing for the inexperienced. It just gets better after this.

Note that the type of white wine used has a pronounced impact on the color too. In general, the more color to your wine, the more color to your cheese.

Actually the more I look at that cheese, the more perfect it looks to me. In my opinion, you have hit the nail right on the head, And I'll give you a cheese for your fine work!
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on October 01, 2013, 06:53:10 PM
as for the board,

it usually will stick a little bit. You can use a mat if that makes you feel good, but I never do.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Mike Richards on October 02, 2013, 09:40:47 AM
Thanks for the help, Alp.  Your post makes me feel better.  I look forward to seeing what happens with this guy now.
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Spellogue on October 02, 2013, 01:46:48 PM
10 days is the guideline for most aged cheeses...

Guess I could have stopped washing my semi-hard chevrotin about two weeks ago.  Do you still do a periodic maintenance wash after this period?  Say every 10 days or so?  Or do you find that generally unnecessary?
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: Alpkäserei on October 02, 2013, 02:11:41 PM
Once a week or so for the next 2 or 3 months, then just a rub down on occasion IF it wants to grow strange things (it will do so if your environment is heavily contaminated -mine always want to grow a strange brown powdery mold that I have never been able to identify)
Title: Re: Gruyère attempt with questions
Post by: SouthernCheese on October 14, 2013, 07:20:35 AM
Questions first:
- I'm still unsure about brining these big cheeses.  I'm doing another 12 gallon batch, expecting around 11 - 12 lbs.  If I do thickness times weight will that get me the right salt content?  I expect it to be about 4.5 inches thick, so around 50 hours in the brine?
- I'm debating whether to do a salt washing or a wine/brine wash.  Suggestions? 



Hi Mike,

Sorry that I'm late to the game on this post. For a cheese that size (10-12 lbs, 4.5" tall), I suggest a brine time of at least 24 hours, preferably 36 in a fully saturated brine. That should give you the proper salt levels and firm up the rind surface so that, when it dries, it won't stick to the board. Some cheese makers brine and also dry salt the surface in the cave to help develop the rind the way they want, so you may want to experiment.

To clarify the "sticking" comment, I mean assuming that you only wash one side at a time (the top side) and flip consistently (daily, until the rind develops). Then you cut back on the washing/brushing to what you need, depending on your goals.

The cheese you're making is not too much different from one I make commercially (http://naturesharmonyfarm.com/product/fortsonia/ (http://naturesharmonyfarm.com/product/fortsonia/)) and I'm sure yours will come out just as well if not better, given proper aging (52-54 degrees, 90% humidity).

Good luck!