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Milk to curds ratio

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hello, new to the forum. Was wondering what the Milk/Cheese ratio is.
In other words, what specific amount of milk yields what amount of curd?
post #2 of 29
Depends on the starter culture, the ripening time, the salt, the rennet concentration. Generally speaking, if you're looking to make cheddar, you need 10-11 times the amount of milk. About 17X for a harder cheese like Parmigiano. Interesting question. Why do you ask?
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

Milk/Cheese ratio

Aneke, Well, I'm glad you asked..... I am indeed about to make cheddar as you so intuitively surmised. But I had a vision of making a biggish, waxed, wheel of it. Naively ambitious for a rookie who's already failed three times, no doubt, but I refuse to give up the dream. I have even made my own semi-industrial, sized cheese press (it's cool). I just dumped 3 gallons of milk into a pot. I've got vegetable Rennett tablets and Mesophilic starter. I'm concerned that I won't have enough to work with after I drain off the whey. Thanks for the reply, Gabe
post #4 of 29
You'll probably have a great deal of difficulty with vegetable rennet. What kind is it? from fungus? from cardoon thistle? Animal rennet works best for most cheeses, especially those designed for aging. Beware of wax. I think what you're going for is a bandaged cheddar. THese are protected with lard and cloth. Difficult to get the right ripening conditions though...

You might want to pick up Home CHeesemaking by Rcki Carrol if you wish to pursue this. Considering how much milk you'll need, it's a good idea to get all the advice you can get.

One of our members Luc also made cheddar; hopefully he'll chime in. Good luck!!
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Anneke, you're killing my dream with that harsh dose of reality. While I will take your advice regarding the Rennett. I refuse, however, to give up on the four gallons of milk gently, creamily, simmering , lusciously on the stove. Through sheer force of will, it will become a round of WAXED, cheese. What do you think will happen? How deluded am I? Gabe
P.S. The Rennett is Microbial Coagulant (M. Miehi and/or M. Pussillus),salt, corn starch, Magnesium Stearate, Cellulose Microcristaline.
post #6 of 29
Don't let ME kill your dreams!!!! Cheesemakers become artisans because nothing gets between them and the perfect drum of cheddar! Besides, I never actually made cheese so you're way ahead of me... :)

Most cheeses sold in wax today are not ripened in wax, as mold will likely develop. They dip them just before they go to market. Don't ask me why the 640 lbs cheddar blocks that are aged in plastic don't mold....
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 

Milk/Cheese Ratio

Anneke, Drats! you were right. I should have listened to you. My curds turned into liquid mush. But I'm still not giving up. I've got the mush in the refrig in a cheese cloth in a large colander. Hopefully when I get back home it will harden and I will be able to cheddar it. Thanks for the help though. Despite my wife's protestations, I will live to cheddar again! Gabe
post #8 of 29
Hi Gabenevins (and Anneke),

I am chiming in this post.
My experiments have uncovered that when it comes to cheese making at home, the right ingredients, precision and attention to details makes the difference.

Before commenting or even orienting you in any direction, I need to know the following:
what type of milk are you using? fat content? homogenized? store bought milk?
when heating the milk before coagulation how do you do it? directly on the stovetop?

Also instead of using pure mesophilic culture to inoculate the milk, I found out that using freshly cultured buttermilk works better (more gentle, more control). Do you know how to make buttermilk with the mesophilic culture? My ratio is 1/2 cup of buttermilk to inoculate 4L of milk (let's say 1 gal).

By the way, I have experience only with calf rennet. My research pointed out that calf rennet is easier to use from home cheese making. So whatever I will advise will be based on this fact.

Hope to (hear) read from you now.
Luc H
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Luc H, Thanks for "chiming in". Geez, you've sure given me a lot to think about. First off, the details; Store bought whole milk, Mesophilic starter, vegetable rennet (I just ordered liquid animal-based rennet), heated in a four gallon pot on an electric stove. I think you're right and I would like to pursue the buttermilk idea. What's the process? I also found that I need to retool my home-made press, it turns out it only looked cool. I might also order the calf-rennet. Gabe
post #10 of 29
Hi Gabenevins,

Sorry I was quite busy for a week (spring break).

I must tell you that making cheese is not as simple as having the ingredients and mixing everything together. There are critical factors to control like temperature, time and the right ingredient.

The type of milk is very important. Milk for cheese makers is not homogenized and is usually pasteurized at a lower temperature then supermarket milk. If you use supermarket milk, you start with a huge disadvantage when making cheese. The processing involved disturbs the fat globules and the protein structure of milk which prevents a good gel when rennet is added which is required for a firm yet smooth curd for making cheese.

If you are very serious, you should read up on the subject. Buy a book or two or go to the library. Think of making small scale trials (1 gal) instead because you will waste a lot of milk during your learning curve.

My milk combination that works is 4 liters of skim milk + 500 ml of 35% cream. Cream, even homogenized, has large fat globules. Skim milk, not having any fat, has unfatty proteins.

To date , my resources have been these two websites. You will learn a lot here (including how to make buttermilk starter):
Fankhauser's Cheese Page
(he uses goat's milk but the technique also applies to cow's milk)

Cheese Making
He uses a blend of powdered milk and cream but I never tried it.

Good luck,

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #11 of 29
I'm picking up this old thread b/c cheesemaking is near and dear to my heart. This reccomendation of Ricki Carrol is a great one! I went to her beginners class on home cheesemaking and am currently trying to master the fresh cheeses. I'm having the hardest time with Mozarella, which is supposed to be the easiest-yea right! She also has a hard cheese class and has customized classes for soft aged cheeses, blues, and other very advanced cheeses for the aspiring artisan.

The trip to New England for cheese is totally worth it, there were people from all over the country who attend.

Cheddar is very advanced and it really is an artform to try to master the hard cheeses and soft ripened cheeses, but well worth the effort in satisfaction.
post #12 of 29
I wonder if Gabevins has attempted to make cheese still...

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #13 of 29
Good to hear from you Melis! Mozzarella is indeed very diffictult to master, particularly if you don't have a ph-meter. ANother great source is American Farmstead Cheeses by Kinstedt. It's a bit technical, but after reading him, you'll know exactly where you went wrong.

What fresh cheeses are you working on?
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
I completed my fifth batch. Failures all. My wife is catatonic over the amount of milk I used (it seems milk has gotten a little more expensive lately). Mind you the dream is still alive, I just have to wait until the warden isn't looking. Gabe
post #15 of 29

What other cheeses have you made besides cheddar?
post #16 of 29

Thanks for the tip about the PH on the mozarella, did not even know this could be an issue, I'll look into that more. I get an amazing curd and then it all goes well for awhile (using the microwave) and then something starts to go wrong after I get a little stretch. It ends up tasting kind of feta/goat cheese ish and is a bit flaky.

For fresh cheeses I have done or are working on are queso blanco/Paneer (easy!), ricotta, Creme Fraiche, and Fromage Blanc.

I would LOVE to return to one of Ricki's seminars on the hard cheeses, I will consider this when I can do a few more fresh cheeses "in my sleep".

post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for asking, jbd. It's been just Cheddar and Mozzarella. Cheddar thrice, Mozzarella twice. I'm able to get to the curds stage but my draining stage is killing me. I've been mixing and matching recipes. Some say pour through a cheesecloth-lined colander, others say drain a cupful at a time. either way I'm not getting dry enough curds
post #18 of 29
Gabe, firm cheeses are not just drained, they are cooked and pressed for further whey expulsion. Can you describe what you are doing?
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
Anneke, my guess is that I'm not being pacient enough after my curds 'seemed' drained enough. The Curds are too fragile and wet to consider putting in a press. Again, I guess after the curds are 'visually' drained, I'm missing the cooking stage. Gabe
post #20 of 29
Often the cheese curd loaves are also sliced to let more whey drain out. I remember seeing that at the Tillamook cheese factory.
post #21 of 29
In the case of cheddar - and this is my problem with home-cheddar-making - the COOKED curds are stacked and left to knit together; gravity/weight work to gether to drain the curd while the ph of the curd decreases. THey form slabs which are stacked and flipped incessantly until the right acidification is attained, anf tghe right moisture is reached. Then the slabs are milled, salted and PRESSED. So if you miss cooking the curds, pressing them the first time and pressing them in the mold a second time, you're missing substantial opportunities for whey expulsion. It is next to impossible to make a firm cheese without pressing. Keep in mind, pressing is supposed to be a very slow process, which is kinder to the curd. Cheddar making is les about recipe, and more about technique. Very difficult to do on a small scale.

You are very brave Gabe! Don't give up!!!
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks Anneke, I've spent long enough on the Cheese-making sidelines, I'm going back in! Gabe
post #23 of 29
Contact me if you need a recipe (untested by me).
post #24 of 29
Hi Gabevins,

When it comes to cooking the curds I found that the following method gives the best results.

I have two large stainless steel pots: one larger than the other. I coagulated my milk in the smaller pot then place it in the larger pot. I slowly add water in the large pot. I create a water jacketed cooking apparatus this way. Place the whole thing on the stovetop and heat at low (or med) heat. Using very clean hands, I ever so gently stir the curds to the temperature recommended in the recipes I referred you too.

I use this method to make unripe cheddar cheese curds. Once drained then cut into bit size pieces, the cheese is very dry after resting overnight. When we bite into a piece you get a squeek noise... a sign that I reached my goal. (the proteins are knitted and low humidity)

Question: are you using calcium chloride?
Are you sure your milk is coagulated properly (meaning gelled) before cutting your curds? Do you make the crack test with your finger?

If I find the time, I will post the whole process I developed. It will be a long post and I may be able only next week.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #25 of 29
Thread Starter 
Luc H, thanks for the reply. in one of the batches I put home-made calcium chloride. I did the finger test each time. If you do post the whole process, I will use it. Gabe
post #26 of 29
Good comments as always Luc

I'm going to add my two cents here.

Generally speaking, 100 lbs of milk will yield 10 lbs of cheddar.
The higher the fat content in your milk, the softer the cheese will be.
Commercial cheesemakers use what is called class3 milk. The fat content varies depending on variables such as aging, desired texture etc.

Cheddar cheese has a USDA Standard of Identity (meaning somewhat fixed percentages of fat, moisture, salt) You can find this SoI on the USDA website.

Gravity or weights is also important to form blocks or wheels or whatever shape you want but you have to form the cheese from the curds and hold it together.

The Whey will purge, it just natural. Drain it off.

Also, different milks and tempatures (+ agitation) will result in different size curds. Parmasean Reggiano curds are about the size of rice, while cheddar curds are generally nickel to quarter size.

I also agree with Luc regarding animal rennet. Far more reliable and consistent....besides, that's how cheese was discovered in the first place. Milk stored in a goat intestine turned to curd when agitated.
post #27 of 29

Cheese Making Forum

Hi All & Gabevins

I have also just started making cheese and today I'm on my 6th batch, a mozzarella. Rather than take the huge plunge into the deep end with trying to make Cheddar, I've started easy with Queso Blanco and working up from there.

I just tripped over this website via googling another subject. This is a great website but mostly for cooking, not discussing different cheeses or making cheese.

Back around New Year I was looking for a Cheese Forum but couldn't find one so I built a website and forum about cheese and cheese making! I'm new at this forum so can't post the URL, it's called Cheese Forum Org, just google Cheese Forum and you'll find it.

If you go to the Forum > Cheese Making - General, you'll see my pictures and records of making Mozzarella and the other cheeses, so far I'm 5 for 6, last weekends Gouda doesn't look so great . . . yet.

Hope this is of interest . . .

PS: To answer your OP, for harder cheeses I'm averaging just under 1.1 lb/0.5 kg per US gallon of homogenized whole milk, soft cheeses like Neuchatel I get about 2 lb/1 kg.
Cheese Maker & webmaster for
Cheese Maker & webmaster for
post #28 of 29
There's never much activity in a cheese forum for some reason. I don't know if cheese people stay away from computers or if they are too busy milking Bessie. Even the ACM one is pretty slow. But it's nice to see that someone has taken the initiative. If you'd like to advertise, please contact our administrators, as I wouldn't want your posts to be taken as spam. Good luck with you site; it's a lot of work but your enthusiasm is evident. Welcome to ChefTalk!
post #29 of 29
Hi Anneke

Thanks for the encouragement and support, yep hate for my post to be seen as SPAM, risk I take I guess.

You are right, not much activity in a Cheese Forum, no idea why, topic is too narrow I guess.

Thanks again, John.
Cheese Maker & webmaster for
Cheese Maker & webmaster for
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