First of all, I hope that cheesemaking falls under the "Cheese" board and not the "Home Cooking" board, because that's what my question is about.
I've just started dabbling in home cheesemaking, and this weekend I made my first farmhouse style cheddar. It's currently resting under a crazy ramshackle press I rigged up with four X 5 lb. free weights sitting on top of a cheese mold follower. It's already come crashing down twice.
So, I've turned to the Internet for a better solution. Lots of people offer suggestions on making home cheese presses, but I kind of like this one:
I live near the store that can supply all of these parts, so was thinking of making it myself.
However, the cheese press uses lots of plastic parts, like PVC pipe and polyethylene.
Ricki Carroll, the "cheese queen" of New England (according to her story, she's to home cheesemaking what Alice Waters was to the "slow food" movement) says PVC leeches an aftertaste into cheese. When I asked the PVC press guy about this, he said he once contacted Ricki about selling his press through her, and she went off on a tirade against the oil industry. He told me, "This stuff is used all over the world for handling drinking water, food and milk products and is classified as "food grade"."
So, my question to you is, are the plastics used in this cheese press safe to come into direct contact with food? A rudimentary google search indicates that there are different types of polyethylene, and some are safer to use than others.
Of course I'm looking to ensure that the plastics I'd use in this specific application are safe and will not leech (i.e. warm or room temperature acidic curds in direct contact with PVC and polyethylene, for an extended period of time-- 24 hours)
I would particularly like to hear from Chemicalkinetics, since I know you have a scientific training and likely know a bit about this topic. I'm looking for facts, not speculation or anti-oil/anti-plastic tirades.
by Jen Wheeler | At Christmas time, there are cookies galore, but true dessert lovers still crave something more substantial...