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GENERAL CHEESE MAKING BOARDS (Specific Cheese Making in Boards above) => STANDARD METHODS - Aging Cheese => Topic started by: acstokes on September 07, 2010, 11:11:20 AM

Title: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: acstokes on September 07, 2010, 11:11:20 AM
I am a newbie and I just made my first cheese, a gouda. It was a 4 gallon recipe that I followed in every respect except I used 2 gallons of whole milk instead of 4, so I cut most ingredients in half. Everything went well and my 2 lbs. of cheese looks great. I suppose in a few weeks I'll know for sure when I cut into and taste it. The only thing that went wrong was I dropped my Extech pH meter and broke the probe so I was unable to test the pH. I hope my pH was okay. I plan to try making more gouda as soon as I get a replacement probe for my meter.

I do have a few questions though:
- After pressing, I let my cheese dry to the touch which took two days. I then vacuum-wrapped it using my Foodsaver and placed it in my temperature-controlled fridge at 52F. If vacuum-bagged, is it necessary to worry about humidity?
- Then today, I read that vacuum bagging shouldn't be used to age cheese, but only to store cheese after it's aged. Is this true and do I need to wax it instead?
- How critical is time and weight when pressing? In researching gouda recipes, I read many variations in weights and times for pressing. I used 8, 25, & 50 lbs. for a 4" mold. All I can say for now is it seems about right.

Thanks for your advice.

Fred

Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: Alex on September 07, 2010, 11:36:23 AM
I wax my cheeses but I know there are members who age their cheeses in vac pack.
Something else is bothering me, what about salting? You should float the cheese in salt brine before drying it.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: acstokes on September 07, 2010, 01:21:23 PM
Quote
Something else is bothering me, what about salting? You should float the cheese in salt brine before drying it.

Alex,
I did brine it. I just didn't mention in my post.

Thanks,

Fred
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on September 07, 2010, 01:25:48 PM

- After pressing, I let my cheese dry to the touch which took two days. I then vacuum-wrapped it using my Foodsaver and placed it in my temperature-controlled fridge at 52F. If vacuum-bagged, is it necessary to worry about humidity?
No, just temp
Quote
- Then today, I read that vacuum bagging shouldn't be used to age cheese, but only to store cheese after it's aged. Is this true and do I need to wax it instead?
Where did you read that? NECS site? That's wrong; IIRC I've addressed this here before. Maybe it was another site. The cheese will taste differently when waxed vs vac bagged vs natural rind, but it will most definitely age.
Quote
- How critical is time and weight when pressing? In researching gouda recipes, I read many variations in weights and times for pressing. I used 8, 25, & 50 lbs. for a 4" mold. All I can say for now is it seems about right.

Critical for what outcome? For avoiding mechanical openings you need to press gouda under whey. If you just want the curd to knit and don't mind mechanical openings, so long as the pH is right and temp is right, it will knit under its own weight. A cheese press is one of the most unnecessary tools in cheesemaking for many cheese styles for home cheesemaking. Only useful for achieving commercial results or for making milled curd/dry salted cheese.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: acstokes on September 07, 2010, 07:59:54 PM
Linuxboy,

Thanks for answering my questions. Here's the answer to your question.
Quote
Where did you read that? NECS site? That's wrong; IIRC I've addressed this here before. Maybe it was another site. The cheese will taste differently when waxed vs vac bagged vs natural rind, but it will most definitely age.

Cheesemaking.com is where I read the statement. Here's the link: http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php?action=post2 (http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php?action=post2)
Quote
10. Can I vacuum pack my cheese instead of waxing it?
Vacuum packing is only good for storing cheese. It stops the culture and keeps ripening from happening. For aging, we recommend either waxing or keeping the rind natural.

Fred

Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on September 07, 2010, 08:10:55 PM
Yep, that's dead wrong. Vacuum sealing prevents ammonia evaporation (even then not always, depends on the type of membrane, you can make selective membranes from Nylon/HDPE/PP), and prevents proper oxygen exchange, and water loss. So the types of higher order volatiles the cheese produces will be different. Sort of like aging wine in a stainless tank vs a barrel vs a permeable plastic barrel. I've had amazing wines done with all three methods, and I've had bad wines from all three.

Consequence of lack of water loss is you have higher water, which leads to accelerated maturation, all other things being equal.
Consequence of lack of ammonia evaporation is excess ammonia buildup, and resultant conversion to odd smells, which require time to dissipate after the cheese is opened.
Consequence of lack of oxygen exchange and natural breathing is poor formation of flavor nuances.

Doesn't mean vac bagging isn't viable. One approach is to age naturally at first, then vac bag. Cheddar in 40 lb blocks is vag bagged and aged at 5-7C all the time, even good award-winning cheddar.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: acstokes on September 07, 2010, 08:26:31 PM
Great info! Thanks again!

Fred
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: FarmerJD on September 07, 2010, 10:02:44 PM

Quote
Consequence of lack of ammonia evaporation is excess ammonia buildup, and resultant conversion to odd smells, which require time to dissipate after the cheese is opened.


Ahhhh. Now I get it. This has always puzzled me. That makes perfect sense with my aging in vac bag experience. Everyone of them smells the same when it comes out and then the smell dissipates a day or two later. Life is an education. Thanks Linux.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: Susan on November 30, 2010, 08:01:48 PM
Reviving this old link as it was referred to in a recent post. It seems that some of the issues with vacuum sealing could be solved or at least improved by opening up these cheese at intervals (?monthly), allowing them to breathe, dry if needed, then resealing.  Does that make sense or a I way off base?
Susan
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on November 30, 2010, 11:21:34 PM
That's true, that would help release the ammonia. Not sure it's worth the hassle, though, when making a lot of cheese. Aging cold helps with the slower flavor development, too.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: Susan on December 01, 2010, 05:49:20 AM
That's true, that would help release the ammonia. Not sure it's worth the hassle, though, when making a lot of cheese. Aging cold helps with the slower flavor development, too.

I'm not sure what you mean by that and how it relates to vacuum sealing.  When you say 'aging cold' are you referring to the cheese cave at about 50-55F?

One of my first cheeses (just over 3 weeks old) has a bit of whey around the cheese now.  It seems I should at least open that one.  Dry.  Reseal.  Won't that make it bitter?  Maybe for those that stay dry I'll leave them alone.
Susan
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on December 01, 2010, 07:00:24 AM
By cold I meant 40-45F. Colder temp = slower flavor development = less gas production. I meant that if you age colder than usual cave temps, that it would take care of some of the vac bag drawbacks, but does take more time.

If you have whey, yes, open it and let it air out and paper towel off the water. Extra water in the bag is not good.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: John (CH) on December 01, 2010, 12:19:02 PM
Gents, good discussion!

linuxboy, thanks for your thoughts on pressing, I always wondered why I pressed my washed curd cheeses (Gouda, Edam etc) with less weight-pressure than others and yet I was happy with the result.

Also, I've read that if vacuum wrapping washed curd type cheeses after air drying and thus ripening-aging in vacuum plastic then:
I've just bought a vacuum bagger (wife has hidden it until Christmas :-\) and I'm currently ripening/aging my recent Gouda's with oiled rinds and plan to vacuum bag for long term 1-2 year aging.

Any thoughts/advice (from linuxboy or anyone) on above and after oiled rind aging when to vacuum bag ie 1-2-4 months appreciated.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on December 01, 2010, 12:30:29 PM
Yep, John, good pointers on all counts. Both studies and my own anecdotal experience support what you said.

I would natural age minimum 1 month, preferably 2. Many changes happen especially between days 45 and 60 at 50F aging. I would consider 2 months about optimum, and then vac pac and slowly age at ~40F for years.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: John (CH) on December 01, 2010, 01:44:18 PM
Many thanks!

Good news about long term aging in vacuum bags at ~40F is that I can do that in back of larger cooler kitchen fridge.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: zenith1 on December 01, 2010, 09:55:37 PM
Now this is a thread! Great discussion thanks to John and LB!
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: MrsKK on December 02, 2010, 09:24:59 AM
Well, then, considering that it is better to age vac packed cheeses at cooler temps, I guess it's working just fine that my cheeses end up in the spare fridge for the summer months.  Just about ideal, in fact.

This is a great thread and one I'm glad got revisited.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: Sailor Con Queso on December 02, 2010, 10:25:36 AM
Aging cooler also means that it will take a LOT longer to mature. LB's original reference was buying cheap cheddar, vac bagging, and aging for YEARS.

I age naturally with olive oil rubs for a month or two, vac bag, then age at 54F.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on December 02, 2010, 10:45:26 AM
That's true, it does depend on the cheese. Here's the end result of all this talk:

- You can age at whatever temp you see fit, but understand the reasons for your choice and adjust the choice to fit the cheese
- Cheeses differ in the byproducts of maturation, but generally, you have to deal with co2 and ammonia. This depends on the culture mix and strains.
- In general, a 40-45F aging will give you slower aging, but will, in general, produce a more nuanced outcome in the flavor profile
- Extended aging (1+ years) does better  at lower temps
- If your cheese has a great start (high milk quality, proper culture choice, good process), then it can tolerate higher aging temps. If not, then lower temps help to mellow out the flavors more slowly.

I routinely vac bag pieces of cheese (not only cheddar), label them, and toss them into forgotten corners of the fridge, only to find them 6, 12 months down the line. It works well for me.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: newcheemomma on September 20, 2011, 10:54:05 PM
This forum rocks! Great thread...even 100= days later! Opened a Colonia that had a natural rind and found some interior green mold. Cut out the mold, but the cheese still tastes premature to me at 31/2 weeks. Good to know that vac bagging will continue aging and I can
" label them, and toss them into forgotten corners of the fridge, only to find them 6, 12 months down the line...
Cheese saved!
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: smilingcalico on September 21, 2011, 12:36:08 AM
Linux, definitely looking for some of your wisdom after our recent discussion on moisture loss.  John might take note too.  We vac sealed some cheese at the 2 month mark after lightly (and I do mean lightly) oiling the rind.  Here we are 5 months later and there is moisture (not much) in the creases of the bag.  The aroma after opening was rank to say the least, but it dissipated within a day.  My question or thought I guess is: is the whey seepage caused by the negative atmospheric pressure in the bag?  Is there a way to prevent this?  These were small wheels + or -2 pounds.  Our normal on wood ageing gives us a nice texture, not too moist, just a slightly thicker rind. I use a 3 times floc.
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on September 21, 2011, 01:12:18 AM
Quote
is the whey seepage caused by the negative atmospheric pressure in the bag?
Most of the time, it is caused by some sort of mismatch in the rennet/flocculation technology. Meaning, if you're using a 2x floc, your curd size better be 1/4". To put it another way, your curds at fuse should be mostly done. The point of the press is not to squeeze whey out. Rather, it is to fuse the curds together. So there are all sorts of things that can go wrong here. Uneven curd size is a biggie. Temp gradients during acid buildup (warm on top, sitting on cold table) is possible. Whey pockets due to inadequate press is possible. Your rennet quality might not work with your milk type. Or, the PF is too low, and you have excess retention, but haven't compensated the recipe to account for it.

The pressure may contribute, but after a month, if the cheese is releasing water, then something was off during the make or the ingredients.

Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: smilingcalico on September 21, 2011, 04:40:35 AM
Hmmm.  So I'll need to get on my real computer because my phone won't download pdf's from the CF site for some reason.  Anyhow, I'll check for the cut size later.  I see from different recipe that says floc of 3 gets 3/8" cut.  That could be the issue.  I'll have to measure tomorrow, or technically today since it's 2:30 am! Actually, your whole answer gives me pause.  The rennet quality plus milk type is something I'll look into, but you might be seeing a new thread for that in the near future!
Title: Re: Vacuum Bag Aging - Pros & Cons
Post by: linuxboy on September 21, 2011, 09:08:49 AM
Quote
floc of 3 gets 3/8" cut.  That could be the issue.

This is generally ideal for most hard cheeses. But when you're working with milk that has a lot of fat (I might be misremembering, but I thought you're mostly a Jersey farm?), it will give you excess whey retention. In the summer it should be OK, but right around now, you'll start seeing issues. The way around it for something like Jersey milk is to use a little more rennet, add some CaCl2, or both. Or skim some cream. And, one other approach is to cut to slightly smaller curds. Something on the smaller side of pea size... maybe 6 mm size.

I think more likely, it's whey pockets from slightly uneven curd sizes. Because even floc mismatches even out after 2 months, but whey pockets do not because you will continue to have moisture gradients.

rennet quality is possible, but if you have been achieving yield in the expected ranges, it's not highly likely. But I think you get my core points, that you're dealing with a cheese that when fused continues to release whey, and that points to an inability of the curd to hold whey (due to rennet or floc mismatch or incomplete cook), or to whey pockets.