Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We cut into the Caciotta and the Camembert at my sister's over Thanksgiving weekend.  They had reached the early part of their "ripe and ready" period, so I was a little skeptical.  Normally, I like to wait until the middle of that phase for a couple of reasons.  First, the flavor tends to be stronger, yet more mellow.  Secondly, especially with a Camembert or Brie, I've cut in just a bit too early, and the creamy texture has not yet fully developed in the center.  The taste was OK, but for aesthetics, it does not look quite right...part creamy, part more solid.

I left the cheeses at my sister's and she in turn took them to a brunch get-together with friends on Sunday.  Everyone loved them.  Whew! After not making cheese for so long, I wondered if they'd be OK.  Her friends were eager to learn that I have Roqueforts aging now.  Guess I'll have to share.

With the Holidays coming, I'll have more time on my hands.  Things slow down for work as my customers take long shutdowns at this time.  I'm thinking it'll be a perfect time to try a Port Salut.  That one requires a LOT of babysitting to avoid mold growth on the rind.  I've had to throw out a 3lb wheel before, and struggled to get the next one through the aging phase....plenty of spot treatments with vinegar/salt solutions to curb the spots of mold.  But this time, I have a secret weapon!  Natamycin.  My culture supplier now offers this to help stop unwanted mold growth on brined rind cheeses.  I loved the Port Salut I made before and wanted to make it again, but the work to keep the mold at bay is a put-off.  I'll report on how the natamycin works later this winter.

I'll have to buy extra milk, though.  It's not the Holidays without juustoa!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Been away from cheese making for a while.  We had some family health issues and I cut back on my hobbies simply because there wasn't any time.  Making cheese requires that you babysit the little guys, especially early in the aging process when you have to turn the cheeses daily.  I just could not guarantee that I would be around for extended periods to tend to them properly.  Another reason I stopped making cheese was that last fall, my supplier of pasteurized sheep's milk ran into the no-man's-land between state and federal regulations and could not sell his product for human consumption until the issue was resolved.  He had been following the more restrictive federal guidelines, but our state had not caught up and refused to recertify him because he was not following state guidelines.  Talk about red tape!

Things at home settled down after a year, and I was just considering restarting my cheese making hobby.  I had not heard a word from my sheep farmer in over a year, and was content to make cheeses that used cow's milk.  Then out of the blue, the farmer emailed and said he is now back in business and wanted to know if I'd like some pasteurized sheep's milk!  Talk about timing!

Well, of course, my cultures had been sitting in the freezer for 18 months.  Had to toss those, and get fresh cultures.  I dusted off my equipment, got milk (pun intended), turned on my aging refrigerator, then began.  In October I made Camembert and Caciotta, which I just put up for storage after a month of aging.  Last week, I made Roquefort.  It is now beginning to show a hint of blue mold, and shortly I'll have to skewer them to allow air into the cheese to develop nice veining.

No pics this time around :-(  I figured you've seen these cheeses before on my blog. And yes, I started with cheeses I've successfully made before for a reason:  Start with what you're good at (and like), before you venture out into new territory.  I'll have to look through my cheese making recipe book to find one I'd like to make which I have not made before.  Will keep you posted.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Valencay Mess

The Valencay I made with goat's milk was/is interesting.  The curd is quite soft, and you don't cut it into smaller curds.  Instead, after 18 hours setting up in the pot, I took thin slices out of the bulk of the curd mass and placed it in the pyramid molds.  It took 2 hours to do because I has to wait for the curd to drain a bit to fit all of it into the 8 molds.

After sitting in the molds at room temperature for 2 days, they shrunk down to occupy about 2/3rds of the mold.  With some coaxing, they came out.  They are soft, somewhere between gelatin and pudding in consistency, kind of like softened cream cheese.  It was a trick getting them out while keeping the pyramidal shape.  The worst part is dusting them with vegetable ash.  That stuff is so fine, it gets everywhere.  I put newspapers down all over and still, it got on the floor, under the newspapers and onto the table, all over my hands.  I may not do another vegetable ash ripened cheese for quite some time.  And, I'm not thru handling these messy mounds.  I will have to remove them from the container, put them on ageing racks, put them back into the container, and into the wine refrigerator.  But I don't have to worry about that until tomorrow.  For now, they stay at room temperature on the paper towel for a day.  It'll give me time to wipe down the area again for the fourth time to make sure I cleaned up all the ash dust in the kitchen. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Update on Roquefort and Port Salut

The Roqueforts started blooming six(6) days after making it.  This is relatively fast since it is supposed to take between 10 and 12 days.  I've decided I definitely know how to grow penicillium roquforti mold!  This is a pic of two of the three cheeses at about 12 days.  They are also developing a stronger odor.  I am quite happy with how these are starting out.

This is a pic of the Port Salut from last week, after washing with brine.  A week later, this is now much more orange and the b. linens is starting to grow on the sides of the round.  It too is getting a stronger odor.  I still have issues from time to time with blushes of penicillin mold starting on this one.  Even in a closed container, it gets in.  I have washed it with vinegar and salt solution to treat the spots where the penicillin emerge.  This seems to keep it in check.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Penicillin, Penicillin, Everywhere

I am just about ready to age the Roqueforts in the wine refrigerator after sitting out on the counter for 2 days expressing whey.  But it has me concerned.  Even though I have a two compartment wine refrigerator, the penicillium roqueforti used in Stiltons, Roqueforts and other blue veined cheeses seems to cross-contaminate my other cheeses, even though they are in separate containers and in separate compartments of the fridge.  This mold is prolific...and I seem to be able to grow them quite well...maybe too well.

I had my Stiltons in one compartment, isolated from the Port Salut.  Each compartment has it's own cooling fan.  But I still ended up with tiny colonies of p.roqueforti on the Port every now and then.  Once I removed the Stiltons, the tiny colonies on the Port stopped.  Now, I have to put the Roqueforts in the refrigerator.  But maybe the b.linens, which is now blooming well, will prevent the colonies of p.roqueforti from taking hold.

The only other solution is to buy another wine refrigerator, dedicating one to blues and the other to everything else.  THAT will make my wife happy....not.  Another choice is to do blues only for a while, and once wrapped, I can sterilize the refrigerator and prep it for other cheeses.  But I like rotating different cheeses so that I have a variety coming due all the time.  The blues take much longer to age, so that means no cheesemaking of other varieties for over 2 months at a stretch.  Waxed rind cheeses are unaffected by the p. roqueforti, so there is that possibility.  But, still, that takes a lot of planning to time this right.

eBay, I think it's time I check out what wine refrigerators you have available.  Maybe I can get a great deal like the last time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Planning for The Holidays - Making Something New

I will have plenty of time on my hands between the holidays.  So I figure I'll make 4 different batches of cheeses.  I plan on making ones that have varying ageing times to satisfy my instant gratification, yet have some I can share and eat later.  When done, my little wine refrigerator ought to be full of ripening containers.  I'll have to move my cheddars and the Caciotta to a regular refigerator for a while, but the cheddars need to age for a long time, and the colder temps for a short time will not harm them.  The Caciotta will be ready to eat and share in a week, so it's not long for this world anyway.

First up is a true Roquefort.  I have the sheep's milk already.  I was informed that my frozen sheep's milk was taking up too much room in our small freezer, so they are out defrosting.  The two gallons will make about 3 lbs of cheese, so I'll make three 1 lb rounds.  Two things I have to watch with this one:  handling the curds more gently and sprinkling the penicillin onto the curds evenly as I fill the molds.  Usually, the penicillin is incorporated into the milk, but this time, it's put on the surface of the curds.  The rest is like making Stiltons with some minor changes.  This will take 2-5 months to age (about St Patrick's Day to Easter).  Sigh!

Then I plan on making more juustoa for Christmas at my Mom's house.  Easy peezy, now that I've got the hang of it, especially the removal of the whey while it broils.  But it's instant gratification!

I will be making more Brie.  I have this one down pat!  And it only takes six weeks to age, so by Valentines Day I'll have some tasty cheese to go with a nice wine.

The last cheese I just couldn't decide.  At first I wanted to make an Emmental (Swiss Cheese).  But then I discovered that I'd have to make a huge cheese, otherwise the holes, or "eyes", will burst through the surface.  Suggested minimum:  8 gallons of milk or 9 lbs of cheese!  Plus, I'd have to make it in two pots simultaneously because I don't have an 8 gallon pot (do they even make them that big?).  This is way too ambitious for me.  Besides, I can get good Emmental here in Wisconsin.  Let someone else deal with the size of the batch.  I thought maybe I'd make an Edam or Gouda instead.  Simple and I do enjoy them.  But, again, I can get good Edam and Gouda here.  Why not try something completely new?  So I think I've settled on a Valencay.  It's a goat's milk cheese shaped into small pyramids.  It is both a mold ripened and a vegetable ash ripened cheese.  The ash gets sprinkled on the surface before ageing, and the geotrichnum and penicillin candidum bloom over the ash so it looks frosty.  At least, that's what the picture looks like.  It also has the advantage that it makes 8 small cheeses.  Ideal for sharing. It can be eaten rather young with fruit and crackers, or when older and drier, it can be grated over salads and omelets.  Really versatile!  So now I just have to buy molds and ash.

Stay tuned.  I won't be posting about the juustoa and Brie, since I've made these before and blogged a lot about that already.  But I will post about the Roquefort and Valencay endeavors.

Pink Mold on Stiltons

I had to leave my Stiltons unattended for a full week while I traveled to Quebec City (talk about a place that likes it's fromageries!)  I had left the lid on the container closed because they were so far along in the mold development that I figured they'd be OK.  Well, they weren't.  I came back to patches of pink mold on the surface of the cheese.  The humidity got too high and it encouraged the pink mold.  I immediately scraped off the mold down to cheese that was not discolored, resulting in much smaller and misshaped rounds.  BUT....it tasted great!

I later learned that the pink mold, while garishly unsightly, was not harmful.  Oh, the humanity!...lol.  But now I learned two important lessons.  When in doubt, err on the side of lower humidity, at least if I have to leave them unattended for a long period.  Also, if I ever see pink mold again, I won't fret over whether the darned thing is ruined.