06/24/2016

Composites and Planned Obsolescence

Being an engineer, and a particularly old school engineer, I spent the early part of my career trying to avoid composites. The thing was that I didn’t trust what I was being told and learning about the material. Technically, any material that lattices two different materials together is a composite: concrete and metal, glass and plastic, clay and stainless steel, wood and gypsum for a few. There are good reasons for compositing materials, but there can be huge pitfalls. I must stress that it’s not all a rosy picture, but there are some good things.

 

In basic chemistry we learn about covalent and ionic bonds. It isn’t until organic chemistry (usually in college) that we learn about van der waals bonding. This is the type of bonding that keeps plastics together. This isn’t the same as the previous two. There are a ton of extra caveats to this type of bond, it is much weaker than ionic, covalent, or even the crystalline structure of metals. It breaks down in light, is more prone to corrosion, has certain toxicity malfunctions, and even degrades over time. Overall plastic is an inferior material when considering durability, robustness, cyclical use, safety, and product lifetime.

 

Planned obsolescence is a term coined to describe what economists have decided to call durable goods. One of the most glaringly obvious and hideously polluting faults of durable goods is the usual failing of a small plastic part. This is why industrial equipment rarely incorporates the material, and when said industrial equipment makes use of plastics it is different. They amp up the thickness, choose particularly durable plastics, and hedge all bets.

 

Not to be redundant (he he) but typically redundant systems are robust and rarely fail. The chemistry of plastics dictates that they will fail, fail often, fail under corrosion, break down in light (UV) and fail, spew tiny amounts of toxins that are imperceptible, and generally make our lives hell. Yes, there are benefits, and we all know those benefits, but why the railing against plastics?

 

Aircraft composites are plastics. Albeit plastic with something else inside, but still contain plastics. This material is extremely strong for its weight (referred to as strength-to-weight by engineers). Another caveat is that this composite is extremely strong in one direction, and weak in the others. This is called anisotropy. Metals are not perfectly isotropic (uniformly strong in all directions) but they are close enough to generally consider them so. Composites are not isotropic at all and can be very strong in one direction, but very weak in another.

 

For decades, there were three main aircraft structural materials namely, aluminum,corrosion resistant steel, and titanium. Hopefully, the materials were used in this order because the strength to weight relied highly on the use of aluminum with titanium and cres filling in only the gaps. This new ‘composite’ material throws a whole lot of junk into the mix that confuses everyone. This confusion is particularly true of executives, reporters, and generally anyone who doesn’t understand math and physics well.

 

— warning note: be aware of the term ‘factor of safety’ here —

 

If I was a billionaire, and I wanted to fly around in a jet, I would completely ban plastics and composites from my aircraft on the mere grounds that it was a bad investment. At the point that a salespeople interjected some random composite material benefits, I would ask for a deep discount for the aluminum equivalent. I consider aluminum to be the superior material. At this point we are going to have to go over the differences and start splitting hairs.

 

Aluminum has several widely used variants. Its main advantage is that for its weight it is very strong and relatively cheaply bought strength. It is highly corrosion resistant, has a long lifetime, and is the choice metal for durability in aircraft over time. However, it has a lifetime. This lifetime is very predictable. So predictable, that you can calculate very precisely when it will fail, but it will eventually fail. This failure mode is called fatigue.

 

Steel has many variants, but only cres can be used in conjunction with aluminum. Two metals tend to create a battery, and one corrodes away. Cres is the way to avoid this battery-corrosion problem. Steel (and corrosion resistant steel) have a particular behavior that causes it to have potentially/possibly infinite fatigue strength, whereas aluminum is not capable of this infinite behavior. However, steel is much heavier per strength than aluminum and a fully steel aircraft would suffer extreme performance/weight problems.

 

Titanium is pretty much relegated to two jobs. One, where there is a high temperature application, as it is hard to melt. Two, where there is a particular shortcoming that steel will not suffice for. Titanium might as well be called ‘incorruptible unmeltable brittle steel’. It is expensive, hard for communists to obtain, and serves pretty much as a replacement for steel as their strength to weights are pretty close. Although titanium is a bit stronger. Also, titanium corrodes far differently (less) than steel does.

 

Keep in mind that balsa wood and burlap/cloth ply are the ‘really old school’ materials, but are no longer used widespread. Also, ultralights are aluminum tubes with nylon cloth.

 

Composites are the new kid on the block. This material has ‘huge’ strength to weight benefits. The material has annoyingly hard to calculate stresses that only apply in one or two directions, take more manpower to produce, and confuse the crap out of everyone who isn’t a scientist/engineer. The benefit is that the strength-to-weight can be off the chart if put together right. However, the achilles heel is not the lack of understanding, or high cost of production. The achilles heel of this material is the almost fraudulent lack of lifecycle, effectivity, or longevity calculations.

 

— Please read the last sentence of the previous paragraph a few times. The last sentence of the previous paragraph is the point of this article/post —

 

Let that sink in.

 

To be clear, composites have a clear advantage over the other material choices. For example, in non-reusable rockets it should be the prime material due to its peculiar properties. Let’s say that the thrust reversers on an engine are ‘replaceable’ then this would definitely be the place to use them. Imagine a case where something needs to be extremely strong, but need not last past 5 years of repeated use, and this is the place for this material.

12/14/2015

A Glow-in-the-Dark Truck?

I don’t have to worry about scratches on my door in the parking lot, but you do.

 

I had this really great idea for a passive air-conditioning system for my truck. This plan was years in the making. However, the end output is that my truck glows in the dark and just doesn’t look quite right (a good thing). To tell the story we must begin at the start of things.

 

I bought an old used pickup from a private party. It was one of those cases where you could absolutely tell that the guy had taken good care of it, but was ready to move on. The original mats were still in it, and it was kept clean. There were several problems with the truck, but it ran good. One of the problems was that the clear coat was peeling off on the roof, hood, and doors. I don’t mind this actually, because I had the bright idea that I would paint it myself… eventually. It would take several years to plan out the details. Rust happens slowly, so why not take our sweet time in getting the money, tools, and ability to do the thing.

 

After several years the rust was beginning to start to take hold in some places, and the clearcoat degradation had reached critical mass. Also, I recently moved into a place that has a nice big garage, and space enough to paint a vehicle. More, I happened to have enough money to buy the supplies that I had planned out in my notes for several years or occasional looking. I decided to buy some samples and test out the ideas I had.

 

The original idea was to use a pigment that changes color based on temperature. Turning black when cold and white when hot. Thus, the paint could function as a passive air conditioning system in a small way. Since there are other types of pigments out there I ordered some samples of these as well. Namely, a pigment that changed color based on UV, and one that glows in the dark.

 

The secondary idea was to improve durability and reduce the possibility of getting dings and knicks by painting the whole vehicle in some kind of epoxy or truck bed-liner like stuff. This would also alleviate corrosion (rust) over all

 

I put a big piece of plywood on the ground in the backyard, in a place that it would get a lot of sun. It was August at the time and I knew that the heat would test it to the max. I rolled out about half a dozen samples on this large piece of plywood that I had leftover from a previous project. All of the pigments worked fine. However, after day one the UV pigment stopped working. After a couple of weeks the temperature sensitive paint turned an ugly blotched brown-toast looking and stopped working. However, the glow in the dark pigment continued to work.

 

I planned according to the results. I purchased some tintable truck bed liner, and enough glow pigment to do the entire vehicle. About a decade ago I had tried a DIY roll on bedliner, so I had some ideas about how/what I wanted. I’ll spare you the specifics of all of the tape/papering, scuffing mixing, 1st, rescuffing 2nd, scuffing, and 3rd coat. The whole project took a lot of energy over an entire 3-day weekend to complete.

 

Inevitably, there were setbacks, and mistakes, but it got done. There is a place where some of my hairs were imbedded and ar visible. I discovered the mil thickness required removing the door handles, so decided to not paint close to them. At one place of 2”x2” adhesion didn’t work well on layers 2 and 3, but tearing it away and using a sponge with acetone and some fresh resin covered it up. There some large runs, and all the things you would expect from a non-professional DIY (2nd timer) project. The end result was good enough.

 

There was some intent to make the thing look ugly so that it would be avoidable in traffic and to thieves. However, the ugly didn’t happen. I chose grey as a tint on the assumption that it would be more stealthy and generally unattractive. Instead, of looking kinda ugly and stealthy it comes off looking more just off and sticks out as different. Like a glitch in the matrix during the day and at sunset. At dusk it softly, on the edge of perception, glows. However, at night the glow isn’t really effective (weird).

 

It is somewhat of a disappointment that the glow actually doesn’t realistically show up unless you drive into an unlit tunnel or parking lot from broad daylight. Even when I get gas at a bright gas station, it isn’t particularly obvious when I drive away. I’ve seen it noticed by pedestrians, but not other drivers after dark. The glow is extremely subdued in the light of streetlamps, and most of the roadway lights around. Only in that weird occasion where light changes too fast for people to turn on their headlights does it ever become obvious. Now, it’s far more subtle.

 

The truck does get looks, but more looks of squinting eyes trying to figure it out. The glow is not obvious, thus people can’t quite figure out what they are looking at.

 

The picture was taken by decreasing the shutter speed on the camera.

 

[pics]

My Truck - Glows

Daylight photo of my truck

 

http://www.monstaliner.com/monstaliner_comparisons.htm

09/26/2015

Oil Pulling, the great fad of 2016

The concept is really way too simple to explain. Oil pulling is using cooking oil (coconut, canola, olive, etc) as a mouthwash. It can also be applied to other areas like the scalp, legs, or forearms. However, the term is meant to describe using it as a sort of mouthwash. There are other caveats like DO NOT use mineral oils, and all the other stuff about keeping the oil as organic-clean-hipster as possible.

 

I’ve been watching this fad and it grow somewhat over the past year or so. I’m not sure I would actually classify it as a fad, but that would be the easiest way to communicate it. Right now it appears to be in that formative stage of things that only a few people know about it, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay there because there appears to be no way to capitalize on the opportunity. This is because it is just freakin cooking oil.

 

The only reason I know about this is because I was oil pulling long before I even knew what it was called. Since I was a teenager I’ve had really bad dandruff. Not eczema, just bad itchy dandruff, it was pretty annoying. Nothing worked to solve it. I tried all sorts of things: coal tar shampoo, selsun blue, tea tree shampoo, and everything over the counter. The only thing that worked was this thing I called an ‘oil shower’.

 

I would plan on it being a long shower and make sure I had an extra towel, some cooking oil, and lots of shampoo/soap. Once in the shower I would pour cooking oil in my hand and rub it vigorously into my scalp and keep putting more in until it was sopping with oil. After a lot of scrubbing I would scrape it off. I would repeat this process until the oil no longer contained the white ‘dandruff’ that it was taking off my scalp. I could tell that I was done when the oil no longer turned white. How I could tell this would be by scraping my hand over my head until I had enough in my hand to inspect it for clarity.

 

As you can imagine this process was really messy. It would take a ton of soap to clean all the oil out of my hair and off my skin. I would have to wash everything at least twice. Inevitably I’d get oil in my eyes, and this sucks just as much as soap but lasts longer. Sometimes I would have to dry and take another shower a couple of hours later just to clean off the oil. However, I would be dandruff free for 2-6 weeks depending on the stress I was under. I’ve told a lot of people about this, but not really received much feedback.

 

As a side note this process became extremely neat and tidy when I (apparently along with everyone else) discovered coconut oil. Only the discovery was not about the ‘health benefits’ for me. Coconut oil is partially solid at room temp the stuff doesn’t run down my back and get all over the place. It makes the whole operation easy… So now I’ve pretty much solved my dandruff problem by keeping some coconut oil in the shower. I’ve also realized that crisco could be used as a cheap alternative, but we have to keep things hip here.

 

Technically my ‘oil shower’ was oil pulling, but of the scalp instead of the mouth. So last year when I heard about oil pulling I was confused. I had never considered putting the stuff in my mouth, rinsing like mouthwash and spitting it out in the toilet (because it might clog the sink). I tried it and I liked it. I felt like an idiot from 12+ years of honing my ‘oil shower’ technique without ever considering tasting the cooking oil. It was as if once I decided to put it on my scalp it became shampoo, and therefore soapy, and not tolerable in my mouth.

 

After a good brushing and flossing doing an oil pull makes my teeth feel as smooth as if I’ve just come back from the dentist. However, after discussions with others not everyone gets this feeling. Others have said that it makes their gums feel better, or that it does nothing for them. So obviously results vary.

 

Two theories/opinions come to my mind. One that it might be old forgotten tech/methods, and two that on a macroscopic level it works out. From some of my research it is apparent that thousands/hundreds of years ago people did do things like oil pulling (mouth, scalp, and skin variants). Also, the idea is pretty sound and it would be hard for an honest (and I stress this word honest) scientist or doctor to realistically debunk something so simple that it’s worked for thousands of years. Keep in mind that oil pulling is not a replacement for the normal brushing with toothpaste thing… well it’s not a replacement for me at least.

 

Theory/Opinion 1: I read in the iliad a while back and remember that they put olive oil in their hair back then, when they wanted to look ‘handsome’ or something. It would also be understandable to try to polish one’s teeth with the oil remaining from a hunted animals boiled fat. This would act as something like a cross between lip balm and toothpaste. I’m sure that if you do some research you can find thousands of other instances of this type of curiosity, but the point is simple. It’s damn old school to use oil as a hygiene product. Quick trivia fact: old school soap is oil/fat, lye, and water. That is a pretty big hint about being hipster-natural-simple.

 

Theory/Opinion 2: Imagine you’ve just poured the foundation of your house today, the guys just got done and are about to go home at 5pm. Just then some idiot shows
up with a truckload of cooking oil and pours it right in the setting concrete. He also takes good measure to pour it all over you, the workers, their equipment, and the whole lot. This is essentially what you’re doing to the little bastards in your mouth trying to build houses ‘plaque’ on your teeth. While it may not be an petroleum oil spill, it still mucks everything up and wreaks havoc on operations. At the same time its none too toxic to you. Besides you spit it out along with all the stuff it absorbed anyways.

 

In the end oil pulling (as long as you don’t use mineral oils) is probably as proven as you can get, and likely the cheapest value added thing you can do for your health. I talked with a hair stylist in some depth about the concept, and her response was that the regulations prevent her from claiming that it had any effect on dandruff. I would assume the same for a dentist. In other words don’t expect your professionals, leaders, bourgeoisie, or pilot bureau to tell you about it.

07/21/2014

Cheese Making Crash Course, the first year of lessons

For about a year now I have been making cheese. At first there were many failures. However, slowly over time, I figured out how to get past the mistakes. This is a run-down of a years worth of trials and tribulations.

 

MILK

 

Firstly, it’s all about the milk. The milk will dictate how good the cheese will be on the other side, and how easy it will be to get there. Never buy something with ultra/extra homogenization as it will be impossible to make cheese or butter with. Obviously, it is best to start with store bought milk because finding a source of raw milk can be a chore, and you don’t want to waste ‘good’ milk

 

There are two types of milk that are generally easy to obtain, cow and goats milk. There is the easy way to obtain either, and the hard way. The easy way is to go to the store, where cows milk is extremely easy to find. Goats is somewhat difficult to find from a store, but not impossible.

 

Raw milk (or pasteurized but not homogenized) is superior in every way to store bought milk, in respect to cheese making. It is going to take you some time to find a source for raw milk. Generally, you have to find a farmer through word of mouth. Laws vary from state-to-state, so it takes some time to locate a source. For example, in California you apparently have to be the owner of the cow in some way.

 

The price for a gallon of milk in-the-raw is usually about five dollars, or an ounce of silver for 4 gallons, depending on who you are dealing with. I have seen raw milk in specialty stores as high as $12 a gallon.

 

  1. Store bought cows milk is easy to obtain, but the homogenization makes it difficult to get a good quality cheese out of it. Calcium Chloride usually helps with this difficulty, but it can be done without it if you are very careful.
  2. Goats milk from the store is also usually homogenized. However, it is slightly easier to get a curd out of homogenized goat than cows milk.
  3. Raw cows milk is sometimes easier to obtain in volume.
  4. Raw goats milk will usually produce a curd easier than cows milk. However, some people do not like the taste for some reason. Some will like it more (myself included) it is very distinct.

 

TOOLS

 

We are all on a budget, so the money we can spend is limited by the possibility of success. Time is also a factor. There is also the need vs want aspect to consider. This list goes from the most essential, to the least essential, with an eye for budget considered.

 

1.) A thermometer is essential. I cannot tell you how many failures I went through trying to avoid spending three measly dollars on a thermometer. The thermometer must have good sensitivity around 90-130 deg F (30-55 deg C). If you are just starting out a candy thermometer might work, maybe.
Eventually, I ended up buying one of those digital thermometers that beeps at a specified temperature. However, it is best to put this investment of some ten-twenty dollars in capital equipment off until it is needed. If you leave the pot, and the temp goes to high things might not turn out optimal. The temperature is key in making most cheeses. Believe me, I tried everything to avoid buying a thermometer, but the temperature is very important.

 

2.) A muslin cloth is a pretty cheap thing, but is usually only sold at speciality stores. A muslin cloth is about the price of a couple of rolls of paper towels, but unlike the paper towels it can be re-used after a wash in clean water. Do not put a muslin cloth through the laundry. I tried everything. I used a trimmed/cut cotton t-shirt, that I had to repeatedly wash in clean water because detergent is not good for cheese. I used paper towels. I tried hand-towels!

 

If you try to use an old t-shirt, plan on washing it in a massive amount of water or throwing it out. The cheese will often stick to the fabric and not come off. Also, you can’t wash the t-shirt in the laundry because detergent in your cheese is not good. Don’t use a towel, as it will separate into the brick of cheese and leave lint in the cheese. However, if you wrap the cheese brick in paper towels, a hand/normal towel it’s okay. This is because the paper towel will peel off, and the towel will absorb the moisture/whey without depositing lint on the cheese.

 

3.) Obviously, any pot that can hold 1 gallon of milk will do. However, a gallon of milk makes roughly a fist of cheese. This is a horrible amount of effort for just a fist of cheese. The reason I previously mentioned the ‘ounce of silver for 4 gallons of milk’ is that a typical brick of cheese is made from 4-8 gallons of milk, and sometimes people don’t want cash. Once you have made a few batches successfully, and feel comfortable that you are not going to botch things, a good 5+ gallon (20+ quart/20+ liter) pot is going to make thing worthwhile.

 

4.) A colander is obvious. It’s not always necessary, but it can make life real easy. The usual task is lining the colander with the muslin cloth and pouring the curd into the cloth while the whey drains off.

 

5.) A cheese press is for the pros. I don’t even own one yet. You can normally get away with weights, plates, and all sorts of other tricks to ‘press’ the cheese. I will be buying/building one when I move on to the more advanced cheeses.

 

6.) A lot of recipes call for ‘cutting the curd’ in to 1” squares. At 1-gallon this can be done with any normal kitchen knife. However, at 4+ gallons a stick/knife that is longer may be required.

 

7.) It is important to have a ladle with holes, to drain curds from whey. You can probably get around this with a normal spoon/ladle. The annoyance will compel you to purchase a slotted spoon.

 

8.) A mortar and pestle helps with grinding up dried tablets and various spices. Some rennet (see below) comes in dried tablets. These tablets must be ground finely before mixing into the heated milk. A good, really sweet stone mortar and pestle may run as much as 50 bucks. However, the back end of a kitchen knife is sufficient to grind it up properly.

 

 

INGREDIENTS

 

 

There are some pretty special ingredients and some not-so special ingredients. Getting familiar with them is going to happen sooner or later. Not every one is needed for every type of cheese. Also, many of the difficult cheeses have extremely specialized ingredients. So I’ve left out the ones I have not figured out yet.

 

Rennet, sometimes called coagulant. It’s function is to separate the protein from the whey/lactose. There are two major varieties, vegetable and calf. There are both available in dry and liquid versions. Dry varieties can store in freezers for years. Liquid is preferable, but lasts maybe 6 months in a refrigerator. Generally, regulations require that rennet be standardized to the amount of milk it will work on. Rennet is an enzyme that curdles the milk so as to separate the cheese curds from it. Very few cheeses do not call for rennet. Expect a handful of this stuff to effect some 25 to 300 gallons of milk.
Calcium Chloride is useful when attempting things with store bought milk. However, it is not a cure all. For example, I don’t know if it helps with mozzarella. I just refuse to use it. However, it would have been really handy if I had not been so stubborn in the beginning. It can be purchased in liquid or solid form, and should be generally used in small quantities. Also, both liquid and solid forms have really long shelf lives. It’s basically a salt that aids rennet in coagulation of store bought homogenized milk. However, it is necessary in some recipes even with raw milk.
Citric Acid is key in making mozzarella (read more below). Powdered citric acid is far superior to the alternatives; vinegar, lime juice, and lactic acid powder.
Cheese salts/cultures come in two types Mesophilic and Thermophilic. Depending on what you’re doing these types of cultures may not even be necessary. Mesophilic grow in colder (generally what you would consider room-temperature), and thermophilic grow in warmer temperatures closer to bath water. I tried my best to intentionally remain ignorant of the difference and uses for as long as possible. We are talking about bacteria that are used to generate the flavor in cheeses here, so the knowledge of exactly what is going on is very subtle. Mesophilic bacterial are generally for wait-a-day and grow-at room-temp type cheeses. While thermophilic bacterial are for heat it to 95F/35C and wait-a-hour type cheeses. My personal opinion is screw subtlety and below I’ll explain in my ‘Hacked Parmesan’ recipe. A good piece of knowledge is that any regular ‘kefir/yogurt’ starter package from a speciality store is a mesophilic bacteria if it sits at room tepm, and a thermophilic if it sits in a heater (by the instructions). Also, most Italian cheese starter kits come with thermophilic packets.
Salt/Brine is useful in various circumstances. There is normal table salt, and it’s so damn cheap that you can buy a truckload for a Benjamin. Who wants to do that? There are some other considerations. Table salt comes in iodized and non-iodized forms. This is because if you have zero iodine in your diet you form huge goitres, but if you have to much you have an increased risk of cancer. If there is a radiation source nearby then iodine inhibits it’s carcinogenic effect. I could go on, but there is table salt (iodized or not), sea salt, sea water, brine, and a few others. The whole point of a brine, or salt bath is to get a cheese ready for aging or curing. If you’re a newb like me, just pour a ton of salt into some water and give it a try, just make the water as-or-more salty than sea water. Occasionally, some cheeses need a specific brine in the bathwater prior to the cure, but hey….
Cheese wax, what a scam man. I could be wrong, but this is for selling your cheese and good luck with that. It appears to make things last a whole lot longer with the aging stuff. However, the real purpose appears to be sales. Don’t trust my opinion here, but the wax is completely not necessary for home use because the feds will slam your ass in jail if you try to sell your cheese. However, if you want to make your cheese last for years and give it to an ‘in-county-in-state’ relative it could be pretty cool.
Annatto a dye for making cheese look good. I refuse to buy this stuff, because it has nothing to do with taste. It imparts the normal yellow color to cheddars and other cheeses.
Sugar a sweet tip is that if you feel you are short on your sharpness with a particular cheese salt, simply add a pinch of sugar. It will accelerate the production of bacteria. I’ve heard that one can make a cheddar sharp as a razor. However, that might be an industry secret cat-out-of-the-bag.

 

 

ONE HOUR MOZZARELLA FOR INCOMPETENTS

 

Mozzarella in 30 Minutes is Impossible

 

Mozzarella is a ‘fresh’ cheese meaning that aging is not required, and it does not take days to produce… usually. There are recipes that claim that mozzarella can be made in 30 minutes floating around out there on the interweblinks. However, those recipes are for suckers like me. I have yet to figure out how to do it that fast. I’m pretty sure I can get it down to 45 minutes if I cut some corners, but 30 minutes is for the pros. The most obvious reason to start trying to learn how to make cheese with mozzarella is that it does not have one of those steps that says ‘wait a day’ or ‘wait 3 weeks’. Some cheeses need to be aged. Albeit quality demands that these cheeses be aged, but our budgets and time demand that we make things in a timely and courteous manner for our meals. Here is the 30 minute mozzarella recipe modified for people who might be as incompetent as myself. I call it the… 1 hour mozzarella for incompetents recipe.

 

*adjust recipe per amount of milk

 

1.) Dump in a ¼ ounce tsp of citric acid powder into 1 gallon of milk and mix (no hurry, any point up to 90F)

 

2.) Get 1 gallon of milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

3.) Dump in the ‘right’ amount of rennet for 1-gallon (do some research). Briskly stir the stuff in, like you want it. Don’t mind the crazies that tell you how to stir it in, or only to use a wooden spoon. Just make sure you don’t just drop the tablet in… it needs to be ground up first. Liquid rennet is superior because it does not need to be finely ground in this step.

 

4.) Set aside for 30 minutes to 12 hours (it really does not matter, I did it for 2 days once and got a good result).

 

5.) Do the 1” criss-cut and heat to 120-130F. (I’ve found that the criss-cut is actually a short-cut that is not entirely necessary if you are willing to heat the mass over the course of 3 hours adjusting time up roughly an hour for each gallon.

 

6.) Massage the whey out. This step is the most difficult to describe. The goal is to get all of the whey out of the curds. I typically pour the pot sideways gently squeezing the juice out of the curd mass. I don’t care how you do it, gently squeeze, wrangle, and slap that thing into a big dough ball! This part is nasty and careful, and is best done on a cutting board sloped into a sink. Maybe you need slotted spoons, a colanders, and whatever. The goal is to get a hunk of semi squeezed cheese. The start should be some kind of soft curt, the end result is an actual slap-able mass. Just figure it all out for yourself.

 

7.) If you want you can freeze it here, but thaw it to room temp before the next step.

 

8.) Add salt to taste, like salting eggs this is a very sensitive. Garlic, jalapeños, and other spices can be added at this step, but too much salt will ruin a good thing.

 

9.) Get someone with temperature-insensitive hands to stretch and mold the mozzarella. A fist/gallon is maybe 30 secs in a microwave. This step is the one that kills most mozzarella, it takes patience and hard hands. The idea is to somewhat melt the mass in a microwave. The old school method is to use boiling saltwater (and skip the previous step). However, a microwave makes thing a lot easier.

 

10.) After the mass is stretchable, store in cold water for up to 8 hours, or serve immediately for best results.

 

 

Rebel Parmesan the Corporate Way

 

 

Normally, Parmesan is produced using thermophilic cultures. This recipe will result in parmesan much like the kind in the store bought shaker, but much better tasting. Obviously, it is not real parmesan, but neither is the kind in the shaker you are buying. The real kind is still the best, and the store bought kind is still cheaper. However, this is a way to cheat the rules. It’s a true cheat because mesophilic cultures are not supposed to be used to create parmesan. Oddly, you should expect to yield about two/three knuckles of cheese from a gallon of milk. Time is not pressing here, but this is the only recipe where time has no matter. Each step has no real time dependency. It’s extremely hard to mess it up when you know how to do it.The reason this recipe is a cheat because normal parmesan is produced exclusively using thermophilic cultures.

 

1.) Dump a normal kefir starter package into a gallon of milk. Any mesophilic starter package will do, as long as it is not intended for a yogurt warmer (thermophilic). In fact, because of time the quantity of milk really does not matter. Set the container aside at room temp for a day….

 

2.) Wait 12-36 hours for a kefir/yogurt like substance to result. Usually, you will have to wait some half day longer than normally expected for the kefir/yogurt/whatever, as you want the bacteria to fully develop. The process is highly temp-time driven, but there is a fine line between fully developed and spoiled. TRUST YOUR NOSE!!!! IF YOU THINK IT HAS PASSED TRY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

3.) Dump the yogurt-kefir into a muslin cloth. The substance should look almost exactly like yogurt. Hang the muslin cloth like a bag. Usually from a cupboard door. The whey should drain out over the course of a day or three. We are in no hurry!

 

4.) When the muslin cloth is capable of separating from the mass, this is the time to move. If the mass does not separate from the muslin cloth, it might be appropriate to throw it out or try a new strategy. We want a somewhat dry lug/brick. Larger volumes (2+ gallons) might have a separable mass but a squishy center. The mass should feel solid enough to toss lightly at a minimum. The goal is to get about half/quarter of a fist per gallon here, so moisture must be forced out.

 

5.) Pressing might be completely unnecessary. However, if there is a squishy center or the mass does not feel solid, then give it a day press. The goal is more to dry it out, so if you do not own a press do what you can to absorb/dry/squeeze the moisture out of the thing. Use weights, paper towels, plates, etc.

 

6.) Take the solid hunk and leave it in saltwater/brine for a day. Make sure the water tastes saltier than seawater. It’s okay to leave it in the brine for 1 day or 1 week if you’re crazy. You may choose to cut the hunk up before brining. This makes things pretty simple.

 

7.) Remove the pieces from the brine. Let dry for 1-15 days. It is okay to let them dry on a plate in-between paper towels, or even a hand-towel. These chunks should look/feel like little nodules by now.

 

8.) Once the hunks do not appear to be moist or produce oil, break them up into finger sized chunks and store in a jar in a refrigerator. If the hunks of cheese are playable something is horribly wrong. The chunks should break like chalk and store for more than a year without spoilage in refrigeration. If a hunk gets a dark color on it, it is spoiled and it’s whole jar is. DO NOT GRIND PRIOR TO STORAGE.

 

9.) To serve grind up a small hunk, easier said than done. It will taste extremely similar to store bought parmesan, but better. Although, it is better than store-bought, it’s just not as good as the real parmesan.

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