Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Brie, or not to Brie

This is my first try at Brie. I've been debating about this a long time -- to Brie or not to Brie.

Well, I broke down and did it.

Brie /ˈbriː/ is a soft cow cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold; very soft and savory with a hint of ammonia. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, the flavor quality of which depends largely upon the ingredients used and its manufacturing environment.

How to make Brie

What you'll need. I made this from 6 gallons of milk, so you can adjust your ingredients accordingly.

- 6 Gallons raw or non ultra-pasteurized milk

- 3/8 tsp Penicilium Candium

- 3/4 tsp mesophilic starter

- 3 tablets (3/4 tsp) rennet

- non-iodized salt or kosher salt

1) Sterilize all equipment

2) Pasteurise milk, if necessary by heating to 145°F and keeping at that heat for 30 minutes. The time and temperature are critical. Place in ice bath and bring down to 88°F

3) Put on stove, no heat.

4) Sprinkle Penicilium Candium on top

5) Sprinkle mesophilic on top

6) Let sit 5 minutes

7) Mix well with up.down motion for 1 minute

8) Add rennet

9) Mix well with up/down motion for 1 minute. Top stir for 1 minute.

10) Cover and let sit 1 1/2 hours while maintaining temp.

11) Check for clean break

12) Cut into 1 inch cubes

13) Let stand 5 minutes

14) Stir curds slowly for 5-10 minutes (more of a lift and move than a stir)

15) Strain off whey with a measuring cup (do not pour)

16) Ladle curds into molds.

17) Let curds drain for 2 hours.

18) Flip molds by putting a cutting board on top and flipping.

19) Let sit 2 hours.

20) Flip again.

21) Let sit 2 hours.

22) Let sit overnight for 12 hours.

23) Flip again

24) Let sit 12 hours.

25) Salt one side with 1-2 tsp salt.

26) Flip.

27) Salt other side with 1-2 tsp salt.

28) Let sit 2 hours.

29) Ripen in cave with lid to keep humidity in.

30) Flip daily.

31) After 1 week, a white rind will form.

32) After fully covered in white rind (roughly 12 days), wrap in cheese ripening paper.

33) Let age 4-5 weeks.

34) Move to fridge. The colder weather will slow ripening.

35) Enjoy up to 6 weeks after moved to fridge.


A source for milk

I finally managed to get some raw milk for my cheese making. This stuff tastes incredible!

So, from this...

To this:

Old Cheddar.

Old cheddar is a favorite among my guests. Try this one for yourself. It takes 9-12 months to age (or even up to 8 years, if you are patient enough!).

...well worth the wait!


The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.

Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,420 lb (4,730 kg) at a farthing per pound (UK£2.30 per ton). Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village. Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.

Central to the modernisation and standardisation of Cheddar cheese was the nineteenth century Somerset dairyman Joseph Harding. For his technical developments, promotion of dairy hygiene and unremunerated propagation of modern cheese-making techniques he has been described as the father of Cheddar cheese.[ Harding introduced new equipment into the process of cheese making, including his "revolving breaker" for curd cutting, saving much manual effort. The "Joseph Harding method" was the first modern system for Cheddar production based upon scientific principles. Harding stated that Cheddar cheese is "not made in the field, nor in the byre, nor even in the cow, it is made in the dairy." He and his wife were behind the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. Joseph Harding's son, Henry Harding, was responsible for introducing Cheddar cheese production to Australia.

During the Second World War, and for nearly a decade after the war, most milk in Britain was used for the making of one single kind of cheese nicknamed "Government Cheddar" as part of war economies and rationing. This nearly resulted in wiping out all other cheese production in the country. Before the First World War there were more than 3,500 cheese producers in Britain, while fewer than 100 remained after the Second World War.

How to make cheddar

This recipe is made from 5 gallons of milk and makes a 5 lb cheese. Feel free to adjust the ingredients for a smaller batch.

What you'll need:

- 3 gallons 2%, 3 gallons whole (> 3.25%) milk
- 2 1/2 packets (3.4 tsp) mesophilic starter
- 1 1/4 tsp calcium chloride (is using store bought milk)
- 5/8 tsp lipase
- 1 1/4 tablet or 1 1/4 tsp rennet

So... here we go:
1) sterilize all equipment
2) heat milk to 88°F

3) turn off heat
4) Add mesophilic

5) mix well, cover pot and let sit for 45 minutes.
6) Add calcium chloride.

7) Add lipase. Stir well for 1 minute.

8) Make sure milk is still 86°F
9) Add diluted rennet (mix in a small bowl with 1/4 cup lukewarm water before adding to pot). Stir well for 1 minute in a top/down fashion. Top stir for 1 minute.
10) Let sit with cover on for 45 minutes.
11) Check for clean break.
12) Cut into 1/4 inch cubes with whisk
13) Allow curds to set for 5 minutes.
14) Heat curds to 100°F over 30 minutes (2° / 5 mins). Stir gently on occasion.
15) Maintain at 100° for 30 minutes. Sire regularly with whisk.
16) Allow curd to set for 20 minutes.
17) Pour curds and whey into colander with cheese cloth. Let drain for 15 minutes.
18) remove mass from the colander and place on a cutting board.
19) Cut the curd into 3 inch slices.

20) Put the curds in a pot into 100°F water and cover the pot. (I just place the entire pot into the sink and add warm water around the pot until it reaches 100°F)

21) Maintain the curd at 100°F, turning every 15 minutes for 2 hours.
22) Break the curds by hand into 1/4 inch cubes and put them in a covered pot.
23) Put the pot back into the sink full of water at 100°F
24) Maintain temperature, and stir curds every 10 minutes. Do not squeeze the curd, merely keep them from matting.
25) Remove pot from sink.
26) Add 6 tablespoons cheese salt (non-iodized)
27) Place in mold with cheese cloth. Press at 40 lbs for 12 hours. I simply use a weight that is thoroughly soaked, washed, and sanitized with bleach and water.

28) Flip, press at 40 lbs for 12 hours.
29) Flip, press at 40 lbs for 12 hours.
30) Air dry at room temperature until cheese is dry to the touch (2-5) days. Flip regularly.

After a couple days, a slight rind will for. This is when you know to wax.

31) Wax the cheese.

31) Age in the cave for a minimum of 3 months. I highly recommend 6-9 months or more.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Emmental (Swiss)

This is such a gorgeous cheese, and smells amazing.

Emmental or Emmentaler is a cheese from Switzerland. It is sometimes known as Swiss cheese in North America, Australia and New Zealand, although Swiss cheese does not always imply Emmentaler.

The cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern. Unlike some other cheese varieties, the denomination "Emmentaler" was not protected ("Emmentaler Switzerland" is, though). Hence, Emmentaler of other origin, especially from France and Bavaria, is widely available and even Finland is an exporter of Emmentaler cheese.

Emmentaler is a yellow, medium-hard cheese. Failure to remove CO2 bubbles during production, due to inconsistent pressing, results in the large holes ("eyes") characteristic of this cheese. Historically, the holes were a sign of imperfection, and until modern times, cheese makers would try to avoid them. It has a piquant, but not very sharp, taste. Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmentaler: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. In the late stage of cheese production, P. freudenreichii consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria, and releases carbon dioxide gas, which slowly forms the bubbles that make holes.

How do I make Emmental?

For this recipe, you'll need the following (This will make 6 lbs of cheese, and used 5 gallons of milk), you can simply do the math for a smaller batch:
- 5 Gallons milk (I used Dailyland 3.25%)
- 2 1/2 pkts (3/4 tsp)Thermophilic
- 3 tsp propronic Shermanii
- 1.5 tsp (1.5 tablets) rennet
- 1 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride (if using store bought milk)

1) Heat milk to 90°F
2) Turn off heat. Add thermophilic. Mix well for 1 minute.
3) Add proprionic shermanii, mixing really well for 1 minute.
4) Cover and let sit for 10 minutes
5) Make sure milk is till at 90°F
6) Add rennet by diluting in 1/4 cup lukewarm water (distilled or bottled).
7) Add calcium chloride (if needed) and mix well for 1 minute. Top stir for another minute.
8) Cover and maintain at 90°F for 30 minutes.
9) Check for clean break. If no clean break, wait another 5-15 minutes until clean creak is acheived.
10) Cut the curd into 1/4 inch cubes using a whisk. Stir with whisk for 20 minutes.
11) Heat curds to 100°F over 30 minutes (no more than 1° every 5 minutes). Stir occassionally.
12) Heat curds to 114°F over 30 minutes (1° / 2 mins). Stir regularly.
13) Turn off heat. Let the curds sit for 5 minutes.
14) Pour off the whey into a colander with cheesecloth.
15) Put into a mold with cheese cloth. It's important to not let the curds cool, so move quickly.
16) Press @ 20lbs for 15 minutes.
17) Flip, press at 20 lbs for 30 minutes.
18) Flip, press for 10 hours at 20 lbs.
19) Put cheese in brine (2 lbs salt to 1 gallon water) for 24 hours.
20) Flip, place in brine again for 24 hours.
21) Remove from brine and pat dry.
22) Leave at room temp for 24 hours to dry. Flip regularly.
23) Place cheese in cave. Turn daily for 1 week, wiping the cheese with cheesecloth and brine (damp, not wet). This will help form a rind.
24) Place at room temp for 2-3 weeks for eyes to form. Wipe with a damp cloth (with brine -- damp, not wet). Cheese will begin to swell.
25) Place in cheese cave for at least 3 months.

Note that a reddish color may appear on the surface. Do not remove this.


My very first hard cheese in the cave. Grana Padano (AKA Parmasan)

Ohhh, Grana Padano. How I love you SO!

Parmigiano-Reggiano (IPA: [ˌparmiˈdʒaːno redˈdʒaːno]) is a hard granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia), Italy. Under Italian law only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled "Parmigiano-Reggiano", while European law classifies the name as a protected designation of origin. It is informally known as the "king of cheese."

Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma. Reggiano is the Italian adjective for Reggio Emilia. Parmesan is the French-language name for it and also serves as the informal term for the cheese in the English language.

The name Parmesan is also used for cheeses which imitate Parmigiano-Reggiano, with phrases such as Italian hard cheese adopted to skirt legal constraints. The closest legitimate Italian cheese to Parmigiano-Reggiano is Grana Padano.

How to make Grana Prano

For this, I use a double boiler technique. This will help to control the temperature without scalding the milk:

For this, you will need:
- 4 L whole milk (at least 3.25%)
- 4 L 1% milk (Anything 2% ior less)
- 1 packet Thermophilic
- 1/4 tsp lipase
- 2.5 ml (or 1/2 tablet) rennet

1) Sterilize all the equipment by boiling a pot with all your tools (colander, cheese cloth, knife, whisk, mold, thermometer, etc). The items don't all need to boil, I simply put the colander in the bottom, and use the steam to sterilize everything.
2) When everything is sterilized, dump out the water and add the milk.
3) Bring milk to 35°F
4) If using store bought milk, mix a small bowl with 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) of calcium cholride with 60ml (1/4 cup) of DISTILLED or bottled water.
5) Put the calcium chloride in the milk, stirr wall.
6) Add thermophilic, stir in a top/down motion for 1 minute. Top stir for 1 minute
7) Turn off heat, and let sit at 35°F for 15 minutes.
8) In a small bowl, add 1/4 tsp lipase with 1/4 cup water. Stir wall.
9) Add lipase to milk.
10) Dilute 2.5 ml (1/2 tablet) of rennet in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir well.
11) Add rennet to milk, stir in a top/down motion for 1 minute. Top stir for 1 minute
12) Let sit for 45 minutes
13) Check for a clean break.
12) Use the which to cut the curd (4mm curds)
13) Let stand uncovered for 5 minutes.
14) Stire with the whisk for 10 minutes.
15) Heat to 42°F over 30 minutes. Stir occassionally.
16) Heat to 52°F over 30 minutes. Stir occassionally.
17) Curd should be spoungy at this point.
18) Let sit for 5 minutes at target temp (turn off heat)
19) Place into mold with cheese cloth.
20) Press with 5 lbs for 15 minutes.
21) Flip.
22) Press with 20 lbs for 17 hours.
23) Make brine with 2 lbs salt to 4 L water. Let sit in the brine for 12 hours, Flip it, then let sit in brine for another 12 hours.
24) Place cheese in the cave. Turn daily for 1 week.
25) After 1 week, turn weekly.
26) Wax after 3 months.
27) This cheese gets better with age. It can be eaten after 4 months, but I strongly suggest to let sit for 9 months. It's SO worth the wait.

Any unused cheese can be grated and frozen for later.


Boy, it's humid!

The cheese cave has been working flawlessly for a couple weeks now -- keeping at a perfect 52°F.

Trouble is, the humidity has been too low. For this, I bought me a Titan Eos1 controller and a humdifier. This has done the trick perfectly!



This means my cheeses will have a less likeihood of drying and splitting (which allows the air to get in and cause internal mould.

Thank you Titan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My cheese cave!

OK, we're still getting to know each other. Don't worry, I'll be gentle.

For those who don't know me, there's one constant that describes me. I'm ecentric.

I don't play by the rules. I speak my mind, and I love to challenge both myself and others.

And, I NEVER do anything half assed.

So, that brings me to my latest project. My cheese cave.

I've dabbled with different cheeses that don't require aging. After losing my cheese virginity with simplistic cheeses (feta, mozzarella, for example), I find myself yearning for the next challenge. Hard cheeses.

Hard cheeses require an area to store and age them. The ideal temperature is 50-56, depending on the cheeses.

Well, I don't exactly have a cave I can store it in... The fridge was too cold (32 degrees F), and room temperature is too warm (68 degrees F). Besides, the humidity is too low (I need 80 percent humidity and 52 degrees F).

So, how did I solve this? :)

I insulated my preserve cupboard (6x8) with 2 layers of 2 inch white styrofoam, cut a hole to the outside world, and installed a 12,000 BTU air conditioner, and added shelves and a heavy guage PVC curtain.

Trouble is, air conditioners are programmed to shut down at 61 degrees, which means the room never got below 61 degrees. D'OH!

So... a little hacking - install an electronic circuit that tricks the air conditioner into thinking that it's warmer than it actually is by installing a heating coil around the thermostat...

Well, that'd introduced another problem. Frost. The air condition will go into overdrive and start to seriously frost up. So, you'll need to install a circuit that detects frost on the air conditioner, and temporarily stops the heat -- allowing the airconditioner to manually defrost.

The result? A perfect 52 degree room!

For those who aren't electronically inclined, there's a system called the "coolBot" that'll do this exact thing for you.

See the attached video and a picture of my very first Parmesan. This puppy needs to age for 9 months. Can't wait!

First post

Hi everyone, and welcome to my cheese blog.

Within these walls, I hope to have a yard sale of ideas relating to cheesemaking, and share with you my experiences in making things from scratch - be it wines, ciders, jams and jellies, fresh fruits and veggies, maple syrup, and especially CHEESE!

I hope you enjoy your stay.