Saturday, December 29, 2012

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'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!

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