Some Times The Vat Makes the Man – My DIY Cheese Vat

I have been asked by many readers both here and on the Facebook Page, about my Roaster Vat that I use for my cheese making.  I have to say that it was one of the best things I have ever DIY’d.  I have finally taken some pictures of how to set it up and now it is time to share how I use it.

DISCLAIMER TIME:  THESE OPINIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS ARE THOSE OF MUCH TO DO ABOUT CHEESE AND IAN TREUER, WHAT I AM ABOUT TO DESCRIBE IS NOT WHAT THE MANUFACTURER HAD INTENDED FOR THIS PRODUCT.  THIS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND COULD IN SOME CASES CAUSE HARM TO THE USER.  MUCH TO DO ABOUT CHEESE AND IAN TREUER DO NOT ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY HARM, PERSONAL INJURY OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY CAUSED BY FOLLOWING THESE DIRECTIONS.   DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.

That being said are you ready to learn how I have used a perfectly good Electric Counter Top Roaster, that my sister-in-law gave me, as my cheese vat?

First off take the disclaimer seriously, this will void your warranty and could cause an electric shock if your roaster is not sealed properly.   A Picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few thousand of them.

This is what I use: 2 Kitchen Towels, a Cutting Board big enough for the roaster to sit on and the roaster.

This is what I use:
2 Kitchen Towels, a Cutting Board big enough for the roaster to sit on and the roaster.

I set up next to the sink so it is easier to drain the vat later.  I put the first towel down then the board.

I set up next to the sink so it is easier to drain the vat later. I put the first towel down then the board.

Next I place the second towel on the board.  This acts as another way to soak up and liquid and helps to keep the roaster stable.

Next I place the second towel on the board. This acts as another way to soak up and liquid and helps to keep the roaster stable.

Then the roaster is placed on the towel.

Then the roaster is placed on the towel.

Place it so that you have easy access to the dial.

Place it so that you have easy access to the dial.

Thanks to a tip from Larry from La Bonne Vie, I now place 4 small balls of aluminium foil to keep the insert stable.

Thanks to a tip from Larry from La Bonne Vie, I now place 4 small balls of aluminium foil to keep the insert stable.

Now you start to pour water in to the base.  This is the part that voids your warranty.

Now you start to pour water in to the base. This is the part that voids your warranty.

I can usually get about 3 litres into the base.

I can usually get about 3 litres into the base.

Try to keep the foil balls in the corners.

Try to keep the foil balls in the corners.

Now place your insert into the base and fill with milk.  I used water for this demo.  The insert will float on the water until you get all the milk in and then it will rest on the foil balls.  Mine holds 14 Litres.

Now place your insert into the base and fill with milk. I used water for this demo. The insert will float on the water until you get all the milk in and then it will rest on the foil balls. Mine holds 14 Litres.

Now you can plug in the roaster, put the lid on (it can hold the thermometer in place) and turn on the roaster.

Now you can plug-in the roaster, put the lid on (it can hold the thermometer in place) and turn on the roaster.

If you notice I have marks on my dial.

If you notice I have marks on my dial.

The bottom one I use for cheddaring, the second and third ones are use for maintaining temperature during ripening times.  I conducted tests over several days to get these marks.  I recommend you spend the time and do this too.

The bottom one I use for cheddaring, the second and third ones are used for maintaining temperature during ripening times. I conducted tests over several days to get these marks. I recommend you spend the time and do this too.

I like it because you get a larger surface area to sprinkle the cultures

I like it because you get a larger surface area to sprinkle the cultures

It is easy to use even at less than full capacity.

It is easy to use even at less than full capacity.

I find it easier to check for a clean break and also to cut the curd too.

I find it easier to check for a clean break and to cut the curd too.

You can use other pots in it and treat it like a warmer if you are making semi-lactic cheeses.

You can use other pots in it and treat it like a warmer if you are making semi-lactic cheeses.

As you can see, with a little prep you can have a cheese vat that can be used quite easily and in my opinion better than a normal double boiler/water bath system using pots.  There are some drawbacks, you have to take the time to calibrate your marks and it can be awkward when trying to drain the whey.  Give it a try if you like, but be careful and check to see if the housing on the base is intact or you may be in for a shock.  I haven’t tried putting milk into the base yet, and I am not sure I will.  I know I can get 18 Litres of water in it, but I am pretty sure that would count as direct heat.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Go and make cheese.

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15 comments

    1. Thanks Larry, I wanted to put that in there so people are forewarned and not telling their insurance people well this guy from Edmonton….I know just covering my bases. Bud doesn’t make you want to read more 😀

    1. Research, research, research is my motto, well if I had a motto. I read 3-4 different directions before making a cheese. It is addictive, welcome to club!

  1. Reblogged this on Ferment On and commented:
    This is pretty brilliant! Perfect if you’re doing larger batches (more than 2 gallons) and extended ripening (particularly if keep your thermostat set low like me). I love that it frees up your stove top and your sink!

  2. Beginner – thanks for the info. Very useful. Where can I find cheese recipes to use with the VAT (Roaster) until I learn to calculate cultures, rennet etc. Glad I can follow you!!!!

    1. Hi Rita,

      Any recipe/formula for cheese will work in these roaster vats. The only limitation is the amount of milk your vat can hold. I wish you much success.

  3. Just have to say this is ingenious. How long have you gotten with the enameled surface and do you use a metal knife to cut your curds? (Does the enamel chip after awhle?) How do you sanitize the enamal? I have been looking to find a way to use my WiFi temperature adjuster thingy. This thing is amazing at regulating temps and IMO worth it!

    1. Hello Deb,

      I haven’t had any issues with the enamel chipping at all. I use a cake spatula to cut the curds, it works great because it has a rounded end. You can wash and sanitize with a bleach solution or you can heat at 250 F for 30 mins to sanitize as well. I haven’t has any issues with it. Now that I have started my own business it just sits in the corner of storage in the cheese building.

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