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Old 06-14-2009, 09:38 PM   #1
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Default SS vs. Al: The Next Generation

So, I'm reading Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll and found the following eerily-familiar warning at the beginning of Chapter 2: Equipment:

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Note that aluminum and cast-iron pots are not used in cheese making because of the reaction of acids with metallic salts, which, when absorbed by the curds, cause unpleasant metallic flavors. Acids also corrode the pots, making sanitation very difficult.
As I read this I say, "where have I seen this before?"

So, I'm posting here in an attempt to get at the truth of these statements. I mean, the same could be said for brewing, and I have been happily brewing in aluminum pots for years with no hint of metallic flavors. Also, I have to wonder what all those cheesemakers used before stainless steel was invented in the early 1900's, and how they could stand that horrible metallic flavor.
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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It wasnt made in aluminum thats for sure, I bet it was in a wooden vat as they used to make beer

Dunno about the aluminum and cheese, thats up to your discretion I guess

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Old 06-14-2009, 11:42 PM   #3
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I bet it was in a wooden vat as they used to make beer
OK naive question, but how does one go about boiling water in a wooden vat?
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Old 06-15-2009, 02:18 AM   #4
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they used oak barrels for fermentation/aging vessels, and had copper pots for boiling of the wort

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Old 06-15-2009, 06:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
OK naive question, but how does one go about boiling water in a wooden vat?
Fire... rocks... wooden vat...

Brought up here a while back - something I HAVE to try eventually...
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:24 PM   #6
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I read about using rocks as well. I would guess it would be a very tedious and frustrating method. Possible, but for most, simply not worth the effort.

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Old 06-15-2009, 11:29 PM   #7
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I believe the question was how cheese was made "back in the day", not beer. The answer: it depends on the type of cheese and the region.

The metallic reactions are actually a part of the flavor characteristics of some traditional cheeses. I'm not talking about aluminum.

Alpine cheeses with cooked, pressed curds where traditionally made in copper kettles, because it is such a good conductor of heat when cooking the curds over an open wood fire high in the Alps. Traditionalists say that the copper oxides have a chemical reaction with the milk and curd, which helps the starter cultures and produces the distinctive flavors of these cheeses. Nearly all of today's American "swiss" cheese is made in stainless steal, but has chemicals and enzymes added to replicate these flavors. They just don't taste as good as the Emmentaller and Gruyere actually made in copper.

Bloomy-rind (brie, camembert, crottin) and fresh cheeses (chevre, fromage blanc) were probably historically made out of whatever the milk collection vessel was, which may have been everything ranging from aluminum, wood, iron, etc... Since they aren't cooked curd cheeses, it would not have been necessary to apply heat.

I'm not certain about the washed-rind monastic-style cheeses (limburger, taleggio, etc...). They may have been made in copper, like the Alpine cheeses, or maybe something else like wood.

English cheese like cheddar and stilton are more modern, were generally made by the merchant class (not the peasant class like the bloomy-rind and fresh cheeses) and were probably made in the most recent type of metal available at any given time.

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Old 06-16-2009, 04:35 PM   #8
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I'm not sure the pH of cheese, but I suspect it's very low compared to beer, so while beer is OK as long as the pot is properly seasoned cheese is probably out. I only use stainless for cheesemaking just as I won't put tomato sauces in an aluminum vessel. But I do all my brewing with aluminum.

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Old 06-17-2009, 02:01 AM   #9
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I'm not sure the pH of cheese, but I suspect it's very low compared to beer, so while beer is OK as long as the pot is properly seasoned cheese is probably out. I only use stainless for cheesemaking just as I won't put tomato sauces in an aluminum vessel. But I do all my brewing with aluminum.
Again, it depends on the type of cheese.

The pH of fresh milk is around 6.6-6.7. I'm not sure the typical pH of beer or wort, but this is definitely higher (less acidic). Of course, as the milk is made into cheese, the pH drops. As the pH drops, the chemistry of the curd changes.

The Alpine cheeses mentioned above actually have a fairly high pH while they are in the kettle. Most of the acid development doesn't happen until they are in the forms being pressed, and even then they don't become very acidic compared to most other cheeses, which is what gives them the smooth elastic body and a durable texture, since the proteins are more intact.

Cheddar is more acidic, with the pH on pressing being in the range of 5.5 or a little higher, giving it that slightly crumbly texture. Bloomy-rind cheeses are yet more acidic curds, with the chevre, fromage blancs, feta, and blue being the most acidic, a pH in the high 4's.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
The pH of fresh milk is around 6.6-6.7. I'm not sure the typical pH of beer or wort, but this is definitely higher (less acidic). Of course, as the milk is made into cheese, the pH drops. As the pH drops, the chemistry of the curd changes.
I thought beer wort was in the 5.0 - 5.8 range usually, which from your description sounds more, or at least as, acidic as cheese.
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