Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Modern Culinary Tools and Cheese Making

Farmhouse Cheddar - 1 Week OldIn a Washington Post article about local chefs making their own cheese (above and beyond ricotta, which is fairly foolproof), I saw this nugget:
The chef’s modern tools give him an advantage that the cheesemakers of previous generations can only envy. Water circulators and induction burners regulate heat to the exact degree, which eliminates the stress of watching over the milk to make sure it reaches the proper temperature for adding the coagulating and flavor-generating cultures. Plus, induction burners don’t scorch milk.
The utility of an immersion circulator for cheese making is fairly obvious... since we were even told that making something like farmhouse cheddar, which requires heating milk to temperatures around 100 degrees, is much easier to regulate in a water bath in your sink. Clearly an immersion circulator is going to make that job a breeze. A convenience worth $800? Not for this home cook, but YMMV. The bit about induction burners "not scalding milk" is interesting... and they are certainly cheaper appliances... but it seems the limited number of power/temperature settings (e.g. 10 settings ranging from 140 to 450 degrees F) I've seen on models at Amazon seems like it might be problematic. Though perhaps the fact that when you turn off the power there's really not any residual heat gives you plenty of control... dunno, since I clearly have no experience with the things. Seem cool though.