Cheese Makers Forum FAQ Equipment part 1 Equipment part 2 History

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cheese Making is Frustrating

I have been making cheese for a couple years now, and even though I love this blog, making cheese is *infuriating*. Half the mozzarella I've made never set correctly, even though it was the same brand; at least 75% of the cheese I have made just isn't any good; and drying/aging is the hardest part.

The mechanical part of separating curds from whey, inoculating them, pressing, etc. turn out to be the easiest parts. Controlling the temp and humidity while drying and aging is the most elusive part. Controlling the drying process and preventing mold, for a home cheese maker is just hard.

I've been to places that offer beer-brew stations, but I never thought that necessary since aging homebrew isn't that difficult--but I wonder if a communal cave for cheese 'home brewers' might be a good thing. Thoughts?


  1. If I was in an area where there were a few people making cheese, then I would be all for it. But that would be more because it would be nice to have a local group of people with a shared interest, and the ability to share tips.

  2. There are commercial affineurs that do just aging and management. They take a green cheese and deliver a finished cheese that's ready for sales and distribution. I'm planning on starting a club in the Seattle area that does something similar to what the Boeing winemakers club does - makes equipment available to members.

  3. Pav, that's precisely what I would like here--wish I was in Seattle :)

  4. There are some folks in Portland who make cheese. Is that too far a drive? I've been working on designing a portable cheesemake and affinage building (or two buildings), and it would save costs to put together a few of them. Something like this, but likely without the pasteurizer: Maybe we can come up with a business plan where something like a cooperative buys the equipment, and then with member fees or ongoing fees, we could keep it running. Could even get licensed and each maker could sell small artisan batches at farmer's markets. Would sure make raw milk sourcing easier. A farmer would give a much better deal for guaranteed weekly pickup of 1,000+ lbs.

  5. Wow Pav, that looks so friggan' cool. What kind of price tag are we talking, $50k ballpark?

  6. Depends on the features we want. Here's my current pricing, all equipment used, but very serviceable:

    53' insulated reefer trailer: 4,500 from port of Seattle
    cheese vat, 60 gal basic jacketed kettle: 1500
    cheese vat, 100 gal with agitation: 8,000
    sink: 400
    misc plumbing: 300
    pump: 350
    windows, doors, etc: 450
    cheesemake SS table: 500
    brine tank: 1500
    A-press, 4 cylinder, 2500.
    misc molds and gear: 800

    This would be without the affinage room and without labor, but I assume that the founding people would do the work. A lot of cheesemakers tend to be capable IT people or engineers. It could be as cheap as 10K without an aging room, without a pasteurizer, and without automatic agitation. I'm pretty sure we could get approved in OR or WA for a portable factory, the dairy depts in both states are rather progressive.

    For affinage, a refrigerated reefer would work, but it would cost more in recurring energy costs, but a lot less in startup costs. Heck, a power source, and 5 K, and you're set to go. And we could half bury it or put it in shade or something. Anyway, shoot me an e-mail, we can chat.

  7. Just found your blog...I plan to read more of your posts and see what you have been making. I am in Portland. I have been making goat cheese, and I'll be putting a post about it on my blog soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. It sounds like a great idea. I'm glad you're telling us all about the trials and tribulations your having in this blog.

    It does make me wonder, though, how someone like my mom can make these cheeses without any special equipment (she doesn't even own a kitchen thermometer) that are always a success. I've tried some of her recipes and failed every time. *L*


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