The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Faulty Cheese—How Avoided
Faulty Cheese—How Avoided.
correspondent who has a dairy of 27 cows, and who is making cheese on the farm, writes us that he is having some trouble in getting his cheese down firm and solid. "It is disposed to be loose and spongy, and what is the remedy ?" &c.
If a detailed account of the method pursued in manufacture were given, we should be better able to point out faults and make suggestions for their correction; but in the absence of anything more definite than the above, we should say that "the milk is made up too sweet." During fall and spring, when the weather is cool, milk is slow to take on an acid condition, and where the manufacture of cheese is carried on from day to day the curds will require to lie a longer time in the vat than during summer. Not unfrequently the required acidity is not obtained for several hours under the usual manipulation, and if the curds be removed to the hoop before the acid is sufficiently developed, the cheese will be loose and spongy, and the whey will not readily separate and pass off in pressing. These spongy curds are of frequent occurrence during the change from hay to grass, or from grass to hay, and the cheese, of course, does not sell well in market. The remedy is to hasten acidity by the use of sour whey. It may be added to the milk at the time of putting in the rennet, or later, while the curds are scalding. Old cheese-makers, who can judge very correctly as to the condition of the milk when ready to start heat in the morning, prefer to add sour whey at the same time with the rennet; but in case the cheese-maker is rather inexperienced, perhaps it may be as well to use the sour whey while the curds are scalding. No particular rule can be given as to the quantity to be used, as this depends upon the condition of the milk. If the milk is quite sweet, from one to two gallons is not unfrequently used for thirty gallons of milk. If used in the whey while the curds are scalding, it can be added in small quantities, from time to time, until the required acidity is produced. This condition of curds is best, known by applying the hot-iron test. Take a handful of curd from the vat, press out the whey, and bring it in contact with a piece of iron heated so that it will "siss." Then, on withdrawing the curd from the iron, if small threads are formed, or in other words, if the curd "spins" out into threads, the acid is properly developed. The threads should spin out from one-half to three-quarters of an inch in length.
The tour whey to be employed should have been previously prepared as follows :—Take any quantity of sweet whey and raise it to near the boiling heat. The oil and albuminous matter will then rise to the and may be skimmed off. The whey thus freed from impurities act aside in a cask or other convenient vessel until it becomes distinctly acid, when it is ready to use.page 155
In factories there is generally not so much necessity for using sour whey in cheese-making as there is at farm dairies, because the milk, coming from different herds, and carted to the factory in cans, which are not always perfectly sweet, will have a tendency to start well on toward acidity. When the acidity is once begun, the subsequent heating and manipulation of the milk and curds hasten its development, and hence in many factories sour whey is not employed. In small factories, however, when the milk is kept very sweet, it is used with advantage.
Acidity in cheese-making is one of the leading features of the Cheddar process. It assists the curds to readily part with the whey; it imparts a solid texture to the cheese, prevents porocity, and helps the cheese to develop that sweet, nutty flavour, so much sought after by our English customers. A soft, spongy cheese, does not readily part with its moisture. The surplus whey which remains in the cheese soon decomposes during the curious process which the cheese undergoes, and gives the cheese a bad flavour. So well is this understood, that a porous, spongy cheese is avoided, even though it may be of good flavour at the time, because it is known that such a cheese cannot retain a sweet flavour long, but must soon turn bad and rot down.
The art of making good cheese depends largely upon management in the development of acidity. If not carried far enough, the cheese will be porous and fall into decay; if carried too far, it will be hard and crumbly; but when tempered with the golden mean, we have perfection of flavour and long-keeping qualities. The process can only be learned by experience.
Enough perhaps has been said to guide our correspondent in his operations, so as to correct the fault complained of in his cheese, and we trust our suggestions may help others who may be labouring under difficulties similar to those named.