Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cutting into the cheeses

There's nothing as satisfying in cheesemaking as cutting into a new cheese, especially one that I've never made before, and finding it good.  This week, I had two satisfactions--a Gruyere and a Roqueforti Dulce.  Two more different cheeses would be hard to find, but oh!  how good they both were!  My family and neighbors, who are my testers, waxed eloquent over them.

The Gruyere--which I had actually made with the wrong thermophilic culture--was nutty flavored, full of tiny holes, and aged perfectly.  The Roqueforti Dulce was smooth, creamy, and mild, though full of blue cheese flavor.

I have several more cheeses coming due soon. I'll report back when I make the final cut.

 "Gruyere B", already on its way to extinction.

Soft, smooth, and creamy Gorgonzola Dolce

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cambozola--the final cut

Back in November,  I made a Cambozola cheese which I hoped would turn out well.  It did, but since I had more milk that I had to use up in January, when my does were drying off, I decided to make a second batch, being a bit more careful with the make.  Actually, what I did after looking at several recipes and mulling it over in my mind was to make Camembert, add blue mold (P. roqueforti), and see how it turned out.  I added some blue mold directly to the heated milk, carefully scooped out the finished curds into two molds--one a 4-1/4", the other a 5", and sprinkled even more blue mold onto the curds, the added more curds.  When the cheese was fully drained, I tucked it away just as I would a Camembert.

Several days into the aging, I used a sterilized skewer to poke holes from the side to encourage the growth of the blue mold.  Since the white mold was growing so vigorously, I had to reopen the holes every few days.

About 3 or 4 weeks into the make, I tried the smaller round.  Delicious!  Now I was hopeful that the second cheese would be even better, since it was aging more slowly.

I'm here to report that indeed it was.  Last Wednesday I cut into the second of the two rounds.  I wish I could show pictures of my beautiful cheese, but I was too busy eating it to take any.  I shared half with a few friends over lunch on Wednesday, and shared the rest with a neighbor homesteader on Sunday.  Spread on Wasa type rye crackers, it was divine, even though it was a little runnier than I prefer by then.  Perfect for my neighbor though, whose tastes tend to a runnier cheese.

Next time I'll try to contain myself long enough to take some pictures, but I'm not promising anything.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cambozola? Success!

I reported on my November 19th Cambozola make in my other blog and again here on earlier this month.  At the time I wasn't sure what to expect, since I added the cultures in a--umm--non-standard way.  As the cheese aging progressed, I wasn't sure what I had, or even if it were edible.  I am here to report that IT WAS!  And magnificently so, I might add.

I cut into both round a few days ago, still not sure I liked what I was seeing and tasting.
Ever looking for another cheese opinion, I brought a half over to my neighbor down the road.  She and her house guests pronounced it eminently tasty, especially with a bit of sea salt sprinkled on to enhance the flavor.

Today, I took the plunge myself.  Here it is, a quick and delectable supper, savory cheese, sprinkled with a touch of red mineral salt, matched with fresh chunks of pineapple.  My cheese, whether it can rightfully be called a cambozola or not, was a success.  Ah! This is how life is supposed to be.

The history of a gorgonzola cheese

Back on November 13th, I made my first gorgonzoa.  Oh, I was so proud of it!  I had a lot of extra milk and had to either use it or give it to the poultry, and I wasn’t willing to do that.  So, feeling brave after my successful Camembert make, I decided to try Gorgonzola.  I used a combination of cheesemaking.com's recipe and one that I found on Cookipedia.

I used
  1 gallon of raw goat milk and
  1-1/2 qts of raw Jersey cream
To that I added
  1/4 tsp Flora Danica and a large pinch of Penicillium rogueforti, which I had hydrated for 24 hours in 1/4 C water. 
After stirring well, I let it culture for an hour.

After the hour, I added
  9 drops of double strength vegetable rennet (diluted, of course),
which brought the flocculation time to just about 13 minutes.  I let it set for a factor of 2, or 26 minutes.  The curds were very delicate, and next time I may try for a factor of 3, depending on how this make turns out.
Cut curds

I let them rest for 30 minutes, stirring  a couple of times gently—mostly just shaking the spoon a bit to get some motion and encourage release of the whey.  At the end of that time I  ladled off as much whey as I could.  I then carefully ladled the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander and let them drain, lifting the sides of the cheesecloth to aid in the drainage.
Draining the curds
 It actually took a bit of draining before I could get all of the curds into the colander. When they’d drained considerably, I ladled them into a 6” mold, which sat atop a plastic mat on top of a cookie sheet, which sat on a pan to catch the whey.
Keeping the curds warm
I turned it at 15 minutes, 45 minutes, and then several times after that before I let it sit draining overnight.

The following afternoon, I removed the mold and salted the cheese, then covered it with a bowl to maintain a high humidity.
Just before salting.  Doesn't it look lovely?
Draining after salting.
I repeated this every day for 4 days, then removed it to a plastic container in a location around 55° and turned it daily.   A couple of days later I skewered it top and bottom to encourage blue mold formation.

Lots of blue!
The blue mold was developing as it should, but then it started developing a  white mold on it as well, and I wasn't sure whether that was normal, so I decided to "fix" it.
Now there's white, too.

HA!  I should have left well enough alone.  I salted the Gorgonzola to get rid of the white mold, before I heard from someone that its normal.  So I turned the cheese every 2 days, and I've been battling a soft, tacky skin, which became rather slimy. Under the slime, the cheese seemed rather firm, and it doesn't have a disagreeable odor to it.  I suspected that it was Brevabacterium linens, a red mold that's used in cheesemaking--but doesn't belong on gorgonzola.  I guess it was free floating in the air and settled down to raise its family on whatever was available.
Slimy red mold.

This is what it looks like close up.  Yech!
I reduced the humidity a week ago, hoping to encourage it to dry out a bit.  As a blue cheese, it really shouldn't be vacuum packed or waxed, so that's not a solution. 

Today I bit the proverbial bullet and, at the suggestion of some other cheesemakers, washed all the slime off.  Well, here's what my Gorgonzola looks like post-cleanup.  I think I was a tad too aggressive on one side, though it was just plain squishier than the other. You can see where just the pressure of my thumb holding it took a soft piece out..
The "good" side.  Nice and firm.
The slightly squishier side.
Now it'll go back into a drier, cooler place to see if I can get a better rind on it and stop the slime.  I'm just hoping to salvage this poor cheese.  It has another 2 months to go for Gorgonzola Dolce (softer and creamier) and another 5 months to go for Gorgonzola Piccante (firmer and crumblier--is that a word?).

Anyhow, since it's my first make, I'll cry a bit if it doesn't turn out, but I guess I can chalk all this up to learning experience, but I haven't given up yet!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cambozola Make #1

I made my first Cambozola on November 19th. 
  • 2  gallons raw goat milk
  • 1/4 tsp Flora Danica
  • 7 drops double strength rennet, not nearly enough.  Next time I need to use more, at least 14 drops.
  • 1/8th teaspoon Penicillium Candidum.
  • 1/8th teaspoon Penicillium Roqueforti.
I added all the cultures all at once to the 85° milk.  That's what happens when I don't reread the recipe. I had mixed both Penicilliums together, hydrated in 1/4 c water for an hour or so, and added them all at once into the milk.  What I should have done is sprinkle the P. Roqueforti onto the curds halfway into the ladleing.  Next time I'll try that.

I added the diluted rennet into the milk and stir gently into milk for about 2-4 minutes. Set aside to let curd set.  Flocculation time was 30 min, and multiplied by a factor of 4.
After 2 hours total I cut the curds into ½ inch cubes and stirred gently in whey for ~2 minutes then drained in a cheesecloth lined colander for 30 minutes.
Stirring the curds

Scooping the curds into the colander

Draining the curds

I gently ladled the drained curds into Camembert hoops, then let them drain flipping them at 1/2 hour, 1-1/2 hours, 5 hours, 8 hours, and 16 hours.
Draining in the hoop

Then I removed the molds and put them in a cool room that stays between 55°-65°F, turning them daily.  When they were completely drained, I salted them lightly, continued to turn them daily.
Drained Cambozolas, just before the cool room

At 8 days, I skewered the two cheeses to encourage blue mold growth, and continued to turn them once every day or two.
The door has been left open a couple of times in the past week, which raised the room temperature.  Yesterday I looked at them and they were decidedly crumpled looking.  When I turned them, they were soft to the touch on the edges.  I cut a very thin wedge from one and tried it.  No blue veining, but blue cheese funky dirty socks taste, and firm in the middle.

Funky Cambozola cheeses

I reskewered the cheeses and moved them into the refrigerator, but at this point I'm wondering if I should just toss them, or if the flavor will improve over time.  The question is,of course, is this a dismal failure or a smashing success

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dedicated to the joys and frustrations of cheese!

My first post in my new cheesemaking blog. With the cooler weather, I have more time to write, and more time to make cheese.  Not that I'm going to make a different cheese each time, but my blog will serve as a working notebook of successes and errors--yes, and downright failures, too.  I have those, and sometimes they're pretty spectacular.

Like the time I made chevre and it was in too warm a place and when I lifted the cover to check the set, it was foamy and spongy.  The chickens loved it. 

Or the time I made feta and it expanded as it hung in its cheesecloth bag, draining.  A couple more failures like that and I learned that feta must be made in cooler weather, or at least in a cool place, which I don't have in the summer.  Feta making is now limited to late fall through early spring.

So, this is a learning blog, detailing cheesemaking and more, perhaps other food experiments.  What is certain is that It will develop as time passes.