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Old 05-21-2011, 07:12 AM   #1
May 2009
Portland, OR
Posts: 2


My milk did not set and I'm wondering if using a homebrew wort boiling kettle could have been at fault. The back story...

I'm a homebrewer and I'm now giving cheese making a try. I've done a couple of soft/fresh cheeses and all went well. Today I tried my first pressed cheese using the Gouda recipe from Ricki Carroll's book "Home Cheese Making". Since this was my first 2 gallon recipe, I didn't feel comfortable using my everyday 8 qt stainless steel pot that had worked well in my previous 1 gal recipes because I wasn't sure if curd washing could produce more than 2 gals of liquid which would overflow my 8 qt pot. So, I used my 20 qt stainless steel pot I use for extract beer brewing which happens to fit nicely inside my 32 qt aluminum hot liquor tank to form a double boiler.

My initial temp of 90 degrees was spot on and I used distilled water to dilute my fresh liquid animal rennet. The recipe called for a set time of 1 hour at which point I did not have a clean break. I checked for a clean break every 5-10 minutes afterwards until a total time of 90 minutes had elapsed since adding the rennet, but no indication like I had seen in my fresh cheeses was forth coming. I had hoped that perhaps I was misreading the break for this particular recipe and went ahead and cut the cheese at 90 minutes but after a 10 minute rest it was clear that I had not formed usable curds.

Needless to say, this was a very big disappointment but I'm glad I used whole pasteurized milk from the grocery store instead of the $22 of raw milk I purchased specifically for this project. (The plan was to do two batches, one with whole pasteurized milk and one with raw milk. I had always used whole pasteurized milk in my fresh cheese attempts.)

So, my question to the board is could my malt extract brew pot be the culprit? It is always dish soap washed after every use (and was again before attempting this Gouda recipe) but hadn't been cleaned with brewing cleaner like "Straight A" for a while. Could brewing malt residue cause issues with setting milk?


EDIT: The recipe called for diluting 1/2 tsp of liquid rennet in 1/4 cup of unchlorinated water.

Reason: missing info

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Old 05-21-2011, 11:34 AM   #2
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Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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It sounds like you used ultra pasteurized milk. That will never set a curd.

Using the brew kettle isn't a problem for the cheese, but I keep my cheese stuff FAR away from my brew gear. The reason is in cheese you want lactobacillus- that's what forms the curds and makes the cheese ferment. But for brewing, it's a disaster to have any hint of a lactobacillus infection anywhere around your gear.
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Old 05-21-2011, 04:25 PM   #3
May 2009
Portland, OR
Posts: 2

The milk was only pasteurized and the same brand was used successfully for fresh cheeses but I had no idea about cross contamination with brewing equipment. Thanks for the heads up! Any suggestions on getting the brew pot cleaned up for use in brewing again?

P.S. I'm think my setting problem was due to diluting the rennet in water that may have inadvertently been too warm

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Old 05-21-2011, 04:47 PM   #4
Aug 2007
Southern Maine
Posts: 3,949
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I recall reading in another thread that Ricki's kit instructions undershoots the amount of rennet you are supposed to use. I think that this info comes from Forrest at AHS (who also sells cheesemaking supplies)...according to him this is a well-known problem with Ricki's kit. You might want to double check, I'm not sure if this applies to your kit.

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Old 11-23-2011, 04:47 AM   #5
Nov 2011
Rogue Valley, Oregon
Posts: 112
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A LOT of people have problems or fail with rikki's recipes

I have been lucky enough not to but you know what they say "try try again"

don't get discouraged if every cheese maker stopped after a failed attempt we wouldnt be eating all of these heady cheeses

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Old 11-25-2011, 10:43 PM   #6
Feb 2007
Posts: 129

I really don't think that the brew pot was the cause. I used my brew pot for my most recent batch and it formed fine. I thing that increasing the rennet may have been the solution. It could also be that you didn't wait long enough.

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Old 01-29-2014, 01:27 PM   #7
Jul 2013
Posts: 37
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Sounds like you needed to just add Calcium Chloride to the milk from the start, which makes up for the homogenised shop-bought milk. You can buy this from amazon, and just add half a tea spoon (search google for more accurate measures!).

I came here wondering if I've made a mistake by using my brew pot to make cheese in... I'll wash and sterilize it extra good before the next beer, but will any milky flavour linger I wonder? Maybe a milk stout would be a good next bet..!

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