Saturday, October 22, 2011

Little Black Box for my New Cheese Vat

Hooray, I now have a means of accurately controlling the cooking temps of curds when making cheese! Some recipes call for increasing the temp of the curds by a mere 1ยบ over a 10 minute span, something my kitchen stove definitely will not do!

As a side benefit, the "vat" will hold twice as much milk (at least 4 gallons) as my biggest pot, which means I can make larger wheels of cheese (which age much better).

The "vat" is a new Oster electric turkey roaster, large enough for a 22 pound bird. It has a fixed pan which will hold water, and a deep removable pan to heat the milk.

PID and Temp. Probe

The "Black Box" my friend Dyson put together for me has a PID temperature control on the outside, connected inside to a solid state relay wired to the temperature probe that inserts into the milk. On the opposite end is a receptacle that accepts the plug from the vat, and a plug to power the whole thing by plugging into the wall.

I bought the electronic components several months ago after reading a similar set-up on the cheese forum, but really had no tools nor know-how to put it together. Dyson came to the rescue!

Instead of wiring the PID directly into the turkey roaster controls (which would have meant taking the roaster apart), he made a separate box for the controls, leaving the roaster fully intact. All I have to do is plug the roaster into the black box, and plug the black box into an electric receptacle. The PID will let me increase curd temp by as little as one degree, something I could never do on a house stove.

So my cheesemaking tools are slowly accumulating! I now have a temperature-controlled aging cave I made from an old refrigerator this past summer, and a small wine cooler "cave" for blues given to me by a friend. Now I need to build a Dutch-style press, and get some decent cheese molds. Of course, a cow would help too.

Hopefully by this time next year I will be making some really good cheese!


  1. Okay...would Dyson make one of those for me? If so, what would it cost? (I'm serious here...) I may even have a market for them through cheese classes, web site (soon to come) AND through other forums if he's "game"! [And the price is right!!!]


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.