Using Annatto Cheese Coloring in Homemade Cheese.

cheddar cheese

Annatto is a natural vegetable dye used to give many cheese varieties, especially the Cheddars, a yellow-orange hue. Annatto is tasteless and is not a preservative. It is naturally derived from the Annatto tree and will impart an appetizing yellow color to your cheese.

Please note that annatto, like rennet will lose its potency over time and with exposure to light. It should be kept in a dark location at room temperature. The suggested usage for annatto cheese color is 2-3 drops per gallon of milk. Annatto has a high pH which may interfere with the rennet's ability to coagulate the milk if too much is used.

Preparing Annatto

Dilute the amount of annatto to be used with 20 volumes of distilled water.

Add to ripened milk and stir in evenly. This step must be performed before the rennet is added. Adding it after rennet may interfere with its coagulating ability.

Add rennet as directed in your cheese recipe. The yellow color will appear very pale. It will deepen after curds are separated and pressed and slightly further after aging.

*This article is an excerpt from [[Annatto is a natural vegetable dye used to give many cheese varieties, especially the Cheddars, a yellow-orange hue. Annatto is tasteless and is not a preservative. It is naturally derived from the Annatto tree and will impart an appetizing yellow color to your cheese.

Please note that annatto, like rennet will lose its potency over time and with exposure to light. It should be kept in a dark location at room temperature. The suggested usage for annatto cheese color is 2-3 drops per gallon of milk. Annatto has a high pH which may interfere with the rennet's ability to coagulate the milk if too much is used.

Preparing Annatto

Dilute the amount of annatto to be used with 20 volumes of distilled water.

Add to ripened milk and stir in evenly. This step must be performed before the rennet is added. Adding it after rennet may interfere with its coagulating ability.

Add rennet as directed in your cheese recipe. The yellow color will appear very pale. It will deepen after curds are separated and pressed and slightly further after aging.

*This article is an excerpt from [[The formation of a solid curd mass by rennet is sometimes called "setting" because the physical transformation is similar to the firming of a liquid into Jell-o or pudding. In cheesemaking, the solid collection of protein and fat is called a gel. The firmness of the gel, just like the development of lactic acid, is a function of time and temperature. The temperature can be controlled using the same methods described for ripening. The initial coagulation can appear to be quick and complete after only a few minutes, but the process of gel development will continue for a longer period of time. Individual recipes will specify the conditions needed for the cheese you are making. Full gel development will take 30 to 60 minutes. If it takes longer than 75 minutes, first consider the type of milk you are using and how it was pasteurized. Second, examine your procedure for preparing the rennet solution. After that, consider replacing your rennet supply if it has weakened with time.

It is important to recognize the completion of gel development when making cheese in order to know the proper time for cutting. In general gel that is cut after a shorter period of time after adding the rennet is cut into smaller pieces and will result in a greater loss of whey and a firmer cheese. Cutting the gel after a longer period of time will result in a softer cheese since the curd size is larger and less whey will be lost. The type of cheese you are making will dictate the firmness of the gel and the cut size required.

Checking for a clean break

One way to recognize when the gel is ready to cut is to check for a clean break. Insert a flat blade like a curd knife diagonally into the gel and gently pry it up. The clean break is demonstrated on the surface as a clean split or crack which remains open, leaving a permanent scar on the surface of the gel. The clean break will be most defined when using raw or low temperature pasteurized milk. When performed on standard pasteurized milk (most store bought milk) the surface break may show signs of closing up or healing within a few minutes.

Flocculation

Another way to determine the completeness of gel formation is to observe the onset of flocculation. Flocculation is the perception of suspended solids out of a liquid. In this case, curds from whey. The amount of time it takes for milk to begin flocculation after rennet is added is then multiplied by a factor to determine the ideal time for cutting. Again, smaller factors will result in firmer cheese.

Note the time that you add rennet.

After 5 minutes, periodically insert a curd knife into the milk and observe the appearance of the milk as it flows off the blade. When there are small specs of coagulated milk visible, note the time. Subtract the renneting time from the onset of flocculation time.

Multiply this time by a factor related to the cheese you are making. Most hard cheeses like Colby or cheddar use a factor of 3. For example: If it took 10 minutes for the onset of flocculation and the rate factor is 3, the gel would be ready to cut in 30 minutes (3 x 10) from the time the rennet was added.

Cheese Style Gel Set Factors

Alpine, Swiss, Parmesan, Romano Factor: 2 – 2.5

Cheddar, Gouda, Havarti, Provolone Factor: 3 – 3.5

Feta, Blue Factor: 4

Brie, Camembert Factor: 5 - 6

Alternative test Method of testing gel set

Another way to determine the completeness of gel formation involves observing the onset of flocculation by another method.

Note the time that you add rennet.

Float a lightweight food storage container (such as a small empty margarine tub) on top of the milk.

Very gently push the container and you will see that it easily glides across the milk surface.

Repeat this process periodically (every 2 minutes) until the container remains stationary on the surface as if it is stuck to the milk. Note the time when this happens. This is referred to as the onset of flocculation. At this point, do not disturb the curd any further.

Determine the flocculation time. Subtract the time that the rennet was added from the onset of flocculation time. To estimate when gel development will be complete, multiply the flocculation time by a rate factor of 3 for most hard cheeses.

*This article is an excerpt from [[The formation of a solid curd mass by rennet is sometimes called "setting" because the physical transformation is similar to the firming of a liquid into Jell-o or pudding. In cheesemaking, the solid collection of protein and fat is called a gel. The firmness of the gel, just like the development of lactic acid, is a function of time and temperature. The temperature can be controlled using the same methods described for ripening. The initial coagulation can appear to be quick and complete after only a few minutes, but the process of gel development will continue for a longer period of time. Individual recipes will specify the conditions needed for the cheese you are making. Full gel development will take 30 to 60 minutes. If it takes longer than 75 minutes, first consider the type of milk you are using and how it was pasteurized. Second, examine your procedure for preparing the rennet solution. After that, consider replacing your rennet supply if it has weakened with time.

It is important to recognize the completion of gel development when making cheese in order to know the proper time for cutting. In general gel that is cut after a shorter period of time after adding the rennet is cut into smaller pieces and will result in a greater loss of whey and a firmer cheese. Cutting the gel after a longer period of time will result in a softer cheese since the curd size is larger and less whey will be lost. The type of cheese you are making will dictate the firmness of the gel and the cut size required.

Checking for a clean break

One way to recognize when the gel is ready to cut is to check for a clean break. Insert a flat blade like a curd knife diagonally into the gel and gently pry it up. The clean break is demonstrated on the surface as a clean split or crack which remains open, leaving a permanent scar on the surface of the gel. The clean break will be most defined when using raw or low temperature pasteurized milk. When performed on standard pasteurized milk (most store bought milk) the surface break may show signs of closing up or healing within a few minutes.

Flocculation

Another way to determine the completeness of gel formation is to observe the onset of flocculation. Flocculation is the perception of suspended solids out of a liquid. In this case, curds from whey. The amount of time it takes for milk to begin flocculation after rennet is added is then multiplied by a factor to determine the ideal time for cutting. Again, smaller factors will result in firmer cheese.

Note the time that you add rennet.

After 5 minutes, periodically insert a curd knife into the milk and observe the appearance of the milk as it flows off the blade. When there are small specs of coagulated milk visible, note the time. Subtract the renneting time from the onset of flocculation time.

Multiply this time by a factor related to the cheese you are making. Most hard cheeses like Colby or cheddar use a factor of 3. For example: If it took 10 minutes for the onset of flocculation and the rate factor is 3, the gel would be ready to cut in 30 minutes (3 x 10) from the time the rennet was added.

Cheese Style Gel Set Factors

Alpine, Swiss, Parmesan, Romano Factor: 2 – 2.5

Cheddar, Gouda, Havarti, Provolone Factor: 3 – 3.5

Feta, Blue Factor: 4

Brie, Camembert Factor: 5 - 6

Alternative test Method of testing gel set

Another way to determine the completeness of gel formation involves observing the onset of flocculation by another method.

Note the time that you add rennet.

Float a lightweight food storage container (such as a small empty margarine tub) on top of the milk.

Very gently push the container and you will see that it easily glides across the milk surface.

Repeat this process periodically (every 2 minutes) until the container remains stationary on the surface as if it is stuck to the milk. Note the time when this happens. This is referred to as the onset of flocculation. At this point, do not disturb the curd any further.

Determine the flocculation time. Subtract the time that the rennet was added from the onset of flocculation time. To estimate when gel development will be complete, multiply the flocculation time by a rate factor of 3 for most hard cheeses.

*This article is an excerpt from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheese Making by James R. Leverentz.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheese Making]] by James R. Leverentz.

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