Cheese-making: the pursuit of perfection and embracing the holy cheese

Cheese experiments

Cheese experiments

I have never managed to make a cheese without holes so in my unending quest to find the cause of the problem and to make the perfect cheese, I’ve been carrying out a series of experiments to see if I can remedy the situation.

I reckon that the problem could be influenced by any of the following factors: milk temperature, amount of rennet, amount of pressure or ambient temperature.

MILK TEMPERATURE
My original cheese-making technique was to heat the goat milk to 28-30ºC before adding the rennet. Once a clean cut had been achieved, I would then slowly heat the milk to 38ºC.
1. The first experiment was to heat the milk to 34ºC, add the rennet, cut the curds after the clean cut and heat to 38ºC. This didn’t seem to make any difference whatsoever.
2. The second experiment was to heat the milk to 38ºC, add the rennet, wait for the clean cut, cut the curds and then leave them to settle to the bottom of the pan. The difference in this case was that the curds were softer than normal but it made absolutely no difference tot he finished cheese.

RENNET
I normally use 1.25ml of powdered rennet to 5 litres of milk but some people on Internet say that holy cheese could be caused by too much rennet. The instructions on the back of the rennet pot actually say that 0.01ml of rennet should be used to each litre of milk. Too much rennet is a bad thing and can make a cheese which squeaks on your teeth but I wanted to see what would happen if I used less than I normally do. Normally, it takes 45-60 minutes for the milk to achieve a clean cut but when I used less rennet it took about 2 1/2 hours. Apparently it can take as long as 3 hours to achieve a clean cut. Once again there was absolutely no difference in the finished cheese.

AMOUNT OF PRESSURE
I started this cheese-making season by applying pressure of 5kg for 30 minutes, 10kg for another 30 minutes and finally 15kg for the final 30 minutes.
1. I decided to change the pressure to 10kg-15kg-20kg
This didn’t make any difference to the final cheese but is the pressure that I will use in the future.
2. I tried doubling the amount of final pressure: 10kg-20kg-30kg
The cheese still expanded in the press and had the additional problem of an unstable stack of weights on top.
In conclusion, I don’t think that the pressure makes much of a difference.

AMBIENT TEMPERATURE
Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about this but I think this is what is causing the problem. I therefore think it’s a good idea to make the cheese early in the morning, and get it into the fridge as soon as possible. I have also started applying a 2kg weight on top of the salted cheese in the fridge to stop it expanding.

All things considered, I’ve decided to embrace my cheese’s holiness wholeheartedly and join the ranks of Dutch and Swiss cheeses.