Yesterday, I mentioned flocculation for better curd. David over in Manitoba, Canada picked up on this, and asked me to expand. By the way, David was recently featured on the New England Cheesemaking Co. blog. You can read all about him at this link. Well done mate.
Anyway, let me explain the flocculation method which is a better method for curd set.
The times given in most cheese recipes are great for beginners and experienced home cheese makers alike. You can check for curd set by the tried and true “Clean Break” method, however there is a better whey to determine curd set for your cheese.
The flocculation method for better curd is a way to test the point of coagulation after adding the rennet to your milk. Using a factor (determined by the type of cheese you are making, you multiply the time taken for the flocculation point to help you predict the best time for curd set.
So here is the process.
- Add your rennet when the recipe states. Start a timer so you know how many minutes have elapsed.
- Leave the milk for five minutes, then take a sterilised small plastic bowl and place it on the surface. It should float.
- Then spin the bowl gently, whereby it should rotate freely. Do this every minute or two.
- You should notice that at around the 8 minute mark you may find slight resistance from the milk, test by spinning every 30 seconds.
- Between 10 and 15 minutes, the bowl should become ‘stuck’, indicating that the curd mass has formed. This is the flocculation point. It may take longer, so don’t panic. Keep testing till the curds set.
- Once set, don’t try to spin the bowl any more, just remove it gently and note the time elapsed.
Watch what I mean in this video.
Now you have to multiply a factor by the total time it took for the curd mass to set by a figure listed in the table below. (Source: Cheese Forum Wiki)
|Swiss & Alpine types, Parmesan, Romano||2-2.5|
|Cow’s milk Cheddar||2.5-3|
|Monterey jack, Caerphilly||3.5|
|Feta & Blues||4|
|Camembert & Brie||5-6|
The factor (normally between 2 and 6) is multiplied by the time it took to reach flocculation point, giving you the time to cut the curd.
So if flocculation time is, for example, 15 minutes, then for Parmesan, total time since adding rennet to when cut is 37 and a half minutes. This is the optimum time to cut the curd for the type of cheese you are making.
The Cheese Forum states;
“The reason for the different multipliers for different cheese type recipes is because the curd at time of cutting will have different strength, young curd set will more readily release water when cut versus older curd set will release less.”
So as I mentioned in my previous post;
A soft cheese usually has a higher flocculation time, and a larger curd cut, keeping more moisture in the cheese.
A hard cheese on the other hand has a lower flocculation time, and a smaller curd cut, releasing more whey for a firmer, drier cheese.
I hope this explains the flocculation method in more detail. I tried this method during the last Caerphilly that I made, and I did notice an improvement in the curd structure during stirring.
Try it out on the next batch of cheese you make. I would be interested in your results.