Saturday, March 31, 2012

Finding Your Whey - April: Moldy Cheese isn't always a bad thing

We're still working with soft cheeses so no need for a press yet, but you might want to start thinking about getting one or making one as next month we'll be starting with some basic hard cheeses. You will need some cheese molds (forms) though.

This month, however, we're going to be working with acid, rennet, cultures and mold! Yes, you heard that right. Mold. Mold is what makes brie such a wonderful gift from heaven. It's what makes blue cheese blue. Molds help the cheese develop more flavor and can also act as an inhibitor of undesirable mold. Some molds, like the ones for brie and camembert are surface molds while molds for blue cheese work within. They effect the color, smell, taste and texture of the cheese.

Feel free to experiment. Cheesemaking.com has some recipes for the more common cheeses like brie and blue cheese. Also Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses has quite a few recipes you can check out.

I made Bucheron which is basically a camembert made with goat cheese and aged for an extra long time. The form is also different as it's more of a cylinder rather than your typical camembert or brie shape. This cheese doesn't have the soft gooey insides that the other two are known to have and the flavor is much stronger. I'm also planning on trying out brie.

This recipe was going to take 3 days to make so I made sure to do it on a weekend I was going to be home for. It required 2 gallons of goat milk which was going to take us quite awhile to stockpile. To stockpile raw milk we simply froze quart jars of it as we collected it until we got all we needed.

I had 4 small molds for making chevre, which ended up being enough. Five molds probably would have been more ideal though because I was really having to cram the curds into the four to make them fit. I also needed cheese mats, and a food grade plastic box to allow the cheese to retain moisture and keep the cultures from contaminating the wine fridge.

The first thing I had to do to make it was pasteurize the milk since it's a soft cheese and isn't aged long enough. I really hate pasteurizing milk just because it can take so long but if I wanted to make this cheese I was going to have to.
To pasteurize you need to heat the milk to 145 deg F and hold it there for 30 minutes stirring to keep it evenly heated. I find that my floating brewing thermometer works best for this but I have to rubberband it to the stirring spoon because my pot isn't deep enough for it to float. After the 30 minutes is up you want to cool it off as quickly as possible in an ice bath. I cooled it of to 86 deg F so I could inoculate the milk without reheating it.

 This recipe required a Mesophilic DVI MA starter culture, Penicillum candidum and Geotrichum candidum, rennet and a brine solution.

Once the milk was down to 86 deg F I simply added the cultures, stirring until well blended. I then added the rennet stirring up and down. I left it overnight to firm up.

Without cutting the curds I scooped them into the molds filling them. The molds only took about 2/3s of the curds. I let the curds sit for just over 4 hours and then refilled the molds, packing the rest of the curds in. I allowed them to sit overnight to completely drain. The next morning I removed the curds from the molds and brined them for 10 minutes.

The brine was made up of 2 pounds of noniodized salt mixed into 1 gallon of water. Heat up the water until it's nearly boiling and mix in the salt until it's dissolved. When it cools some of the salt may precipitate out. You know the salt content is right when the cheese floats. If the cheese sinks there's not enough salt. This is good to know because you keep the brine to reuse - adding water and salt when needed. Over time it will develop it's own character from whey and cultures that are slowly added with each batch of cheese. Some cheesemakers have had the same brine for decades.

After I brined the cheeses I laid them on the cheese mats and put them in the box. The first day I repositioned the cheeses several times. I put the box in my wine fridge set about 55 deg F then for the next week I turned them to make sure they were evenly drained and allowing the mold to develop evenly over the cheese.
After three more weeks of aging the cheese was ready. It was distinctively different from brie though being quite a bit stronger. It's not creamy like brie either. It's a delightful cheese that I will make again.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Find Your Whey - March: Time to Get Cultured

It's March's Cheese Challenge. We finally have a name thanks to some brainstorming from Sean over at Punk Domestics. This month we're finally getting a bit of culture. We're going with soft cheeses so you won't need to worry about having a press yet.

So far we've done cheeses that are acidified with acids such as lemon juice and citric acid. Now we'll be using cultures that acidify cheese. There are two primary types of starters that come in two forms. The first type, which we'll be using this month, is the Mesophilic Starter. It prefers low-temperature cheeses. The second type is a thermophilic starter which is used to make high-temperature cheeses.

They both come in two forms a direct-set starter or a prepared starter. Direct set is by far the easiest type because all you need to do is add it directly to the milk. Prepared starters require a lengthy process to create, but they also ensure that you no longer have to buy the starter because, like yogurt, you can just keep it going. Unfortunately the prepared starter is only good for 3 days in the refrigerator and a month in the freezer.

There are several types of cheese you can make this month that will work. I'm going to be making a sun-dried tomato feta in olive oil.Unfortunately this must be aged for up to 4 weeks so I'll be posting about making it next month.

Other cheeses that you can make are (Cheeses that don't have links are found in the book Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses):

Chevre
Cottage Cheese
Cheese Curds
Cream Cheese
Neufch√Ętel
Gervais
Bondon
Swiss and French Style Cream Cheese

Don't forget to share your experiences!