Cheese Aging Troubleshooting and FAQs
Blowing Cheese Wheel
Blowing is a term used when referring to a cheese wheel wheel which seems swollen and overall bloated. When occurring in a young cheese, blowing is caused by undesirable bacteria producing gas. This cheese is dangerous to consume. Observation on when the blowing occurs, could determine the cause of the bacterial infection.
- Early Blowing: Early blowing occurs usually due to coliform bacteria or yeast infection, caused by contaminated working space or tools or poor milk cleanliness. The gas holes produced will look shiny, raised and round.
- Late Blowing: Late blowing occurs as a product of another type of bacterial infection, which causes the cheese to appear porous and spongy. This type of bacteria is usually due to poor feed provided to the milking animal, and can be prevented by pasteurizing your milk, along with ensuring your conditions are clean.
Surface Cracks and Worse
Surface Cracks can be a common issue in cheese making if your aging space is too dry. As long as your cracks do not run through the cheese, you may be able to save your project through a light brine brush and environment adjustment.
Sometimes cracks can occur due to uneven curd cuts, not properly netting together during pressing. These types of cracks usually run through the entire cheese, and allow for bacteria build up, which can lead to worse issues.
If you notice cracks in a cheese that does not require pressing, this is due to uneven curd cut, and pockets of whey creating these divides. These pockets will grow bacteria and infect the rest of the paste.
Rind rot or soft spots can also occur usually due to poor salting technique, allowing for the rind to wear down and become vulnerable to yeast or bacterial infection.
Invasive Mold and Bacteria and How to Identify Them
Here is a quick reference table including name and description to the most common mold and bacteria which cause specific discoloration to your aging cheese:
Many small, round holes, are usually from a coliform infection. This is a big problem in dry dusty weather when milk is left exposed.
Large, shiny, round holes could be contamination from a bacteria similar to what makes Swiss, these usually appear when the cheese is aged too warm.
Irregularly shaped holes can be from poor curd management when draining and pressing.
Large central holes which sometimes split the entire cheese are butyric bacteria which usually have a noxious smell. When you see these, its either really dirty milk or poorly fermented silage.