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Help, help!

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:44 am
by Patricia Thornton
Yesterday was my first attempt at cheese making and what a disaster!

Although I thought I had followed an amalgam of 'experts' instructions to the letter, when I added the VegeRen and whisked it in, the milk immediately turned into what looked like a cheese wheel floating in the centre of my pot. I waited and waited to achieve a clean break but it never came and eventually decided enough was enough and scooped (the only word I can use) out my cottage cheese-like curds to drain.

I decided to proceed regardless (live dangerously I say!) but the real problems started when, at 1.30 this morning, I attempted to use my Dutch cheese press.

When I put a weight on one side the whole thing toppled over and everything went flying. Finally, my husband rigged it up with a 50lb weight on one side counterbalanced with 56lbs the other, but we are both fairly certain this cannot be correct.

Although I can find lots of pictures of such presses on the web I haven't been able to find a single one in use. This type of press is said to have been in use for hundreds of years so I assume they must be easy to use, once mastered, but I can't figure it out. So, can anyone tell me how to use the thing?

And of course, if anyone has any suggestion about what went wrong with my cheese, I'd be grateful for their advice before my next go when I intend to use whatever milk is available directly from the animal, rather than shop bought.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:30 am
by jenny_haddow
Hi Patty,

Sounds as though the vegeren went to work pretty quickly to me, and it does sound as though you have achieved curds and whey. Were you left with a pale greenish liquid after you strained the curds? Also, what's the temperature in Bulgaria at present? It's been pretty hot out there I understand, if it's hot now it could possibly affect the speed of developing curds. You say you used bought milk, did it have added calcium perchance, that could develop the curds very rapidly.

If you have the same Dutch cheese press as me, then yes it needs counter-balancing somehow. I have a hook in the wall and a strong string loop around the top of the press which I hook over to hold it upright. I suppose they were originally bolted to a table, you could employ clamps to hold the base to a work surface, but I find the hook and strong string method works for me.

Do you have your cheese pressing now? If so do give us a progress report.

Nil desparandum


PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:52 pm
by Patricia Thornton
Hi Jenny, as always, thanks for your help.

I've kept the whey with the intention of making Riccotta - if all else failed - and you're right about the colour - a kind of pale green. My inability to learn the language (calcium is not in my dictionary) makes it impossible to say if the milk contains any added calcium but this just might be the answer and I will try and find out. As for the weather, the unbearable heat of the past ten weeks seems to have gone; it has been so very hot that I was unable/unwilling to cook and certainly there's been no sausage making in our house!

As I had no other plans and all the necessities I decided yesterday was certainly cool enough to try cheese, with the results mentioned in my previous post. I think my main worry was that the curds didn't appear to coagulate but were simply individual curds suspended in the whey but in the shape of a 'cheese wheel'.

It was in the press over night but now it has been placed in my fabulous new cheese press! My husband has just made it for me - two hardwood chopping boards and four stainless steel rods - it works a treat. If I can get somebody to take a digital photo I'll post it and you can see that a Dutch press has nothing on the Bulgarian version!

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:35 pm
by nell
I don't know if you did this but perhaps if you mix the rennet with a little cool water and mix it in a gently top to bottom motion for about 20 strokes. This is how I was taught by Margaret Morris from Glengarry Dairy and cheese supply. It mixes the rennet throughout. Nell

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:47 pm
by saucisson
Thank you for sharing that with us Patricia, it took my mind back to my first trepidatious foray into the world of cheesemaking.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:56 pm
by Patricia Thornton
Hi Nell, thanks for the tip. I did mix the rennet with cool, previously boiled water, I wouldn't describe my mixing action as gentle, quite the reverse actually. Perhaps next time.............