Monday, March 29, 2010

Cheese Vat

For a while I have been looking for a cheese vat for the the creamery I am building. I have contacted several makers of cheese making equipment and received as many quotes. As I am planning to make raw milk cheese, I don't need a vat pasteurizer. This lowers the initial investment but a new 150 to 200 gallon round cheese vat costs anywhere in the range of 15-to 20,000 dollar, a major investment. These cheese vats are triple walled and have an insulated outer wall. Hot or cold water circulate in the jacket of the vat. This is done by means of a spray pipe for indirectly cooling or heating the product. These vats last forever and have a high resale value. However, I would rather spend less an buy a used vat. But they are hard to come by, hence the high resale value.
I have located a used cheese vat in the Netherlands. The construction is slightly different. Instead of an insulated stainless steel wall, the outer wall is made of wood. The wood used is Teak which was traditionally used in Holland to built cheese vats. Wood has been banned as a material to make cheese in a long time ago but it is perfectly adequate as a insulating material for the outer wall for a modern cheese vat. In fact, because of the wood these vats hold the temperature better than triple wall stainless steel vats. The wood is treated with a two part food safe lacquer and thus made impervious, a concern my local dairy inspector had. Including shipping to the United States it will only be about a third of the price of a new vat, a major savings. But the vat is a larger than I would have liked. It has capacity of 240 gallon and the minimum filling is one third. This means the smallest batch I can make in this vat is 80 gallon. As I am planning to collect the milk in cans from farmers, it will be a lot of hauling. A 100 pounds a a full can will be back breaking work to fill up the entire vat. But I really like the look of this vat as well as the price.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cave Content

In the last post I promised an update of what's in the cave. The first picture shows some soft washed rind cheeses made on February 13 after a recipe for Vacherin. Since I took this picture I have cut into one of the cheeses. Although it is very soft, it doesn't remind me of a Vacherin as I remember them. I have washed the cheeses regularly with brine to develop a rind of the coryneform bacteria. The cheese at the right is from the same batch but I didn't wash it. I let it grow "wild".
The second picture shows some simple tommes with a washed rind. This batch was from mid January. Below it a batch of reblochon made February 22. This was a 5 gallon batch resulting in 5 two pound wheels. I washed 4 wheels regularly with a brine mixture and I let one wheel go wild as shown in the 4th photograph.
Below it two alpine style cheeses, each about 10 pound, one from early January, the other from mid February.
All cheeses mentioned above were made from Jersey milk. The cheeses in the last two pictures were made from Ayrshire milk. Some blue in the first and some lactic washed rind cheese in the last.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tomme in Press

I haven't posted for a few weeks and feel awfully guilty. This lack of posting doesn't mean I haven't made any cheeses. On the contrary, I have made quite a few. I will post an update of the content of the cave in a few days. For now just a picture of some tommes I made yesterday being pressed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

67 days

The epoisses is 67 days and holding up very well. This little cheese I removed from the cave at about 45 days and wrapped it in wax paper before putting it in the refrigerator. The rind is dryer than the cheeses I wrapped in saran wrap.