Advice for new cheese makers
Posted: 10 November 2017 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  1450
Joined  2008-05-14

Over the years I’ve picked up a few things that I’d like to pass on.  I admit I could have learned a lot more, but that’s another story.  Anyway, if you’re just starting out, by all means stick rigidly to the recipe.  As you gain experience and a “feel” for the process, you can go with your instincts more.  But here are a few things that might be helpful.

1.  Be anal about sanitation.  You can’t over sanitize, but you can surely miss cheese ruining bacteria by being sloppy.  I even sanitize the outside of my milk bottles before I pour them into the pot.

2.  Use your hands.  What I mean is do all the stirring with your hands, not a spoon.  It’s important to feel the curd as it progresses.  You’ll have to be exceedingly gentle in the initial stages; less so as the cooking phase moves along and the curd hardens.  Of course you’ll need to at least rinse your hands well before you plunge in.

3.  As you become more accustomed to the proper feel of the curd, rely more on feel than on the clock.  While the recipe may call for a 50 minute cooking time, it’s more important that the curd is right.  There are variations in milk - especially if you’re using raw milk, and each batch has individual characteristics.

4.  Take your time while packing the mold.  The only way to minimize mechanical holes is to firmly pack the mold.  By firm I mean really firm.  I use my fist and a lot of pressure to pack the curd as tightly as possible.

5.  I personally recommend vacuum sealing over wax.  Reasons?  Well, there is less concern for molding of the wheel once sealed.  You won’t have to be concerned over the humidity in your cave.  And here’s a reason I would not have thought of before I began sealing - you can dry your wheels in the cave instead of in the open air.  There will be less sagging of the wheel due to the lower temp, and less chance for contamination by bacteria or mold.  But the biggest reason may well be that you won’t have to put up with the mess of handling wax.

6.  If your cave is a refrigerator or freezer, I suggest you put a sheet of plywood over each shelf.  You won’t have the indentations from the wire racks, and your wheels will look much more professional.  And if you’re sealing, you don’t need to worry about keeping the wood sanitary.

So there are a few pointers.  If you can add to the list, I’ll maybe be able to learn a bit more.