Cheesepalooza: Geitost Pate with Apricots and Pistachios

And the clock strikes 12! Yes this is the last month of the Cheesepalooza challenge. Twelve months of cheese making, well I joined it a bit late so I have 10 entries. It was my first time taking on a year long challenge and I am proud to say I made it to the end. Lots of people vanished along the way. Making a cheese, even once a month, requires determination and devotion.

Every month we were given a type of cheese to make. Along the whey (pun) we learned several different techniques, each resulting in a specific type of cheese. On this last month we were left on our own to choose what to make. We were asked to invent our own cheese (or do something creative). I chose an unusual cheese which is actually made exclusively with whey. Let’s take a look at the Geitost, or Norwegian goat’s milk cheese.

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Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Cheesepalooza: Fourme d’Ambert

This is the 11th month of the world wind Cheesepalooza challenge and there is only 1 more month to go after. I know I said the same thing last month but, oops, I had missed the 12th challenge. The finale next month will be…interesting and creative to say the least. But for this month we had to make a blue cheese.

I have been looking forward to making blue cheese since day one. It is a cheese I hated as a child but have grown to adore. My particular favorite is called a Bleu d’Auverge, from the same named region in France. I came across a recipe for a Fourme d’Ambert also from the Auvergne Region.

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Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Cheesepalooza: Ale Washed Trappist Cheese

This is the 10th month of the world wind Cheesepalooza challenge and there is only 1 more month to go after. I have to say I have learned so much since I began this cheese adventure. I have learned to try and be as precise as possible (I am bad at it), I have learned patience, I learned to not throw in the towel after failures, and I learned to make cheese at home.

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Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Cheesepalooza: Camembert

This is the 9th month of the worldwind Cheesepalooza challenge and only 2 more months to go after. I have to say I have learned so much since I began this cheese adventure. I have learned to try and be as precise as possible (I am bad at it), I have learned patience, I learned to not throw in the towel after failures, and I learned to make cheese at home.

camembert cut

April was a new and scary month were we played with mold on pupose! This month we were asked to make a Brie or Camembert, I opted for the later because I like the slightly tangier taste that Camembert. Making the cheese is similar to past experiences but how do you get that lovely white mold to grow?

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Cheesepalooza: Gouda

This is the 7th month of the worldwind Cheesepalooza challenge. February is getting down with washed curds.  This month we were asked to make a Havarti, Edam, Fontina or Gouda. I opted for the Dutch creamy and buttery Gouda cheese.

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If you want to see the whole process of making cheese, from flocculation to cutting the curd and releasing the whey, check out my earlier post. What sets this recipe apart is the washed curds technique. Once the curd has been cut there are a few techniques that allow you to get as much whey out of the curds. One way is to drain part of the whey, then add hot water to raise the temperature of the curds to a specified degree. Here we do this twice in a row, elevating the temperature again on the second wash.

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The brine recipe I got here. Once you are done brinning just put the brine in a thick freezer zip-lock bag and keep it in the freezer till you need it again. Keep in mind the liquid will not become soild so make use it is place somewhere it will stay upright.

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This Gouda was inspired by this recipe but I modified the last bit. There are lots of conflicting opinions when it comes to the drying and aging part. I opted for a shorter drying time of 7 days instead of 21. I think the later is too much and would make the cheese to dry. I waxed it at 7 days and it has now been aging in the fridge for 1 month.

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Gouda

Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Author: Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Serves: 1 pound
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 2 ounces mesophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • ½ gallon water
  • 1 pounds cheese salt
  • ½ tablespoon calcium chloride
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar
Instructions
  1. Heat the milk to 90 degrees. Add the culture and mix well. Cover and allow the milk to ripen for 10 minutes.
  2. Add diluted calcium chloride and mix for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute.
  4. Cover and let the milk set at 90 degrees for 1 hour, or until the curds give a clean break.
  5. Toward the end of the hour, start heating your pot of water.
  6. Cut the curd into 1/2-inch cubes. Let them set for 10 minutes.
  7. Drain off one-third of the whey.
  8. Stirring continuously, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to raise the temperature of the curd to 92 degrees.
  9. Let the curd settle again for 10 minutes. Drain off the whey to the level of the curd.
  10. Once again, while stirring constantly, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to bring the temperature of the curd to 100 degrees. Keep the curd at 100 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring often to keep the curds from matting.
  11. Allow the curds to set for 30 minutes. Pour off remaining whey.
  12. Quickly place the warm curds in a 1-pound cheese mold lined with cheesecloth, breaking them as little as possible. Press at 20 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 40 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.
  14. Repeat the process (turn over the cheese, re-dress it) but press at 50 pounds of pressure for 8 hours. Remove from the press delicately.
  15. Make a brine using 1 pound of cheese salt stired until disolved. Mix in calcium chloride and vinegar.
  16. Soak the cheese in the brine in the refrigerator, 3 hours per pound of cheese. Flip it every 45 minutes. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.
  17. Air dry in the fridge on a matt for 7 days.
  18. Wax the cheese. Age it at 50 degrees for 3-4 months, turning it 3 or 4 times a week.

 

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What do you do when a cheese recipe says to age your cheese in a cheese cave at say 50 F with an 80% humidity index….but without the cheese cave? Get an air tight container, put a couple of chopsticks on the bottom, place your cheese on top so air can pass underneath it. The cheese should take about 40% of the space. Ball up a wet paper towel in the opposite corner of the container. Keep an eye on the humidity level with a hygrometer. If you are air drying a cheese and it starts to crack you can place it in this type of container for a few days: by equalizing the humidity inside and out the cracks will heal.

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I’ll be out for next month’s challenge but will be back in 2 months for Brie or Camembert!

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Romano

Time flies, I was late with my last cheese post so you are getting another one already. We are at the 6th month of Cheesepalooza. This January we were asked to make a Parmesan, Asiago, Romano , or Brick. When I grew up and it was spaghetti night, my mom always set Parmesan and Romano grated cheese at the table. Granted it was the fake Kraft stuff. Well I always went heavier on the Romano as I found it had a sharper flavor. So decided to make a Romano of course.

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Romano at just under 2 months

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My weird final curds

If you want to see the whole process of making cheese, from flocculation to cutting the curd and releasing the whey, check out my earlier post. I  always seem to combine more than one recipe when I make a cheese. The reason is because I use calcium chloride in my recipes since I use store bought milk. Not all recipes list it. This Romano is a mix of this recipe and this recipe. If you use Lipase for flavor like I did, make sure to get half whole milk and half skim milk to lower the fat content.

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My new cheese press woohoo!

I made a couple of new discoveries too this month. The first major improvement is my new cheese press. Everyone stand up and say: YAY! A press becomes essential when you get into these types of cheeses. Unfortunately a new press at cheese supply stores start at $150. Ouch! Well I took a look on Ebay and I found one for $50 shipping included. I jumped on the Buy Now button. It’s homemade and not absolutely perfect but it is a cheese press and it works great. So happy.

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After first press – butter muslin under cheese

Turns out a friend’s dad tried for 2 months to make cheese and moved on to another hobby. When he found out about my experiments he gave me all his cheese stuff. That was so nice, thank you Raquel’s dad! I got a book, ingredients, a cheese ladle, cheese wax and also butter muslin. OMG I will never use cheesecloth again! Butter muslin is a much tight weave so 1 layer is usually enough and, the best part, you can was it and reuse it. Not a bad idea to disinfect it too after each use in boiling water.

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After second press

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After third press

The brine recipe I got here. Once you are done brinning just put the brine in a thick freezer zip-lock bag and keep it in the freezer till you need it again. Keep in mind the liquid will not become soild so make use it is place somewhere it will stay upright.

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Bathing in brine

So this recipe was a challenge for me. I am starting to believe that cheeses made with mesophilic culture and buttermilk guarantee success for me. Anything using citric acid or thermophilic culture failure is lurking. This claim is entirely based on my gut instinct. The last two cultures always make my milk turn to curd or ricotta. I added the rennet and went straight to the supposed end curd result. Technically it may not be Romano in the end but it is a cheese.

My cheese is almost 2 months old now and I will soon rub it with olive oil. Mold has not been an issue so far. I love smelling the flavor developing from the cheese. All cheese starts of with pretty flavorless curd. In aging the magic of cheese chemistry takes place and flavors come to life. I have to wait at least another 3 months before tasting. Torture!

 

Romano Cheese

Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Serves: 1 pound
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts skim milk
  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 5 oz. thermophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water 30 minutes*
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 pounds cheese salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon calcium chloride
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Instructions
  1. Begin by heating the milk to 90F.
  2. Once the milk is at 90F, the culture can be added. Allow the milk to ripen at 90F for 60 min.
  3. At 40 minutes add the re-hydrated lipase Stir this in well.
  4. When the time is up add diluted calcium chloride and mix for 30 seconds.
  5. Then add diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute.
  6. The milk now needs to sit quiet for 30 minutes until you get a clean break.
  7. Cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes. You need nice small curd cubes.
  8. Heat the curds to 116 degrees over the course of 45 minutes, raising the temperature by 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Watch the temperature constantly.
  9. Maintain the curds at 116 degrees for 30 minutes or until curd retains its shape when squeezed. Drain off the whey.
  10. Line a 1-pound cheese mold with butter muslin or cheesecloth. Place the curds in the mold.
  11. Press at 5 pounds for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 10 pounds for 30 minutes.
  13. Repeat the process but press at 20 pounds for 2 hours.
  14. Repeat the process again but press at 40 pounds for 12 hours.
  15. Remove the cheese from the mold. Peel away the cheesecloth.
  16. Make a brine using 1 pound of cheese salt stired until disolved. Mix in calcium chloride and vinegar.
  17. Soak the cheese in the brine for 6 hours in the refrigerator, flipping it every 90 minutes. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.
  18. Age the cheese at 55 degrees and 85 percent humidity. Turn it over frequently and check for mold. If there is any, you can remove it with a cloth dampened in vinegar or salt water.
  19. After 2 months, lightly rub the cheese with olive oil to keep the rind from drying out. Age for another 3 to 10 months.
Notes
If using lipase with cow’s milk, a lower fat milk should be used. I find a blend of 1/2 skim plus 1/2 whole milk should give a starting fat content of about 2.2%. If not using lipase, a full fat milk may be used.

 

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Farmhouse Cheddar

Here we are already at the 5th month of Cheesepalooza. Well I am actually a little late, this was the December installment where we had to make a Farmhouse Cheddar or a Caerphilly. This was our first pressed cheese. Oh boy a new challenge. You learn a lot making cheese and sometimes you need to be very creative…like when you do not own a cheese press, a cheese mold, or when you attempt to make you own milk. Yes you read that correctly. Read on for a palpitating story in cheese making.

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Farmhouse cheddar is ready after 1 month but event better to wait 3 months. Christmas was my 1 month mark so we tried hafl of it and I resealed the second half to wait a full 3 months. I was suprised at how drier it was than regular cheddar but this is apparently normal. The taste was very mild and lovely.

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I became very fearful of using store bought milk after requiring 4 attepmts before making a successful mozzarella. I still cannot say if the milk was the reason but I came across a possbile solution here. This recipe lets you make your on cheese freindly milk: mixing bottle water with cream and a good quality Non Fat Dry Powder milk. It has to be the good stuff, like ‘Carnation’, as cheeper brands may not work because the milk was dehydrated at too high a heat.

For 1 gallon of milk mix up 1 gallon of bottle water (non chlorinanted) and Non Fat Dry Powder milk according to manufacturers instructions. Remove 1/2 or 1 pint milk to make room for cream. Add 1 pint light cream or if only heavy cream can be found use 1/2 pint. Mix well and let it re-hydrate in the fridge overnight.

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Testing for a clean break

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The cutting of the curd

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The curd just drained from the whey

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Draining the curd for 1 hour

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OK so I have drained my curd and I am not suppose to put it in a cheese mold and start pressins it. Well I had neither. I made up a mold by cutting the bottom of a 2l milk container and cutting it high enough to hold my curd. It was not practical and the curd kept trying to escape but it did the job. I have a proper mold now.

I did not have a cheese press either so we got creative by adding various weights at the different pressing stages. Here is the last one with a guess of about 25 pounds of pressure. I have found a bargain press on Ebay since then too.
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So what does Farmhouse Cheddar taset like? This rustic version of cheddar is actually drier and more crumbly than the cheddar we know. But with aging the flavor can become as full and sharp. I mixed up my recipe from two different sources: on just a couple acres and chickens in the road.

 

Farmhouse Cheddar

Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/4 t. calcium chloride, dissolved in 1/4 c. water
  • 2 oz. mesophilic culture cubes
  • 1/4 t. liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. canning salt
Instructions
  1. Add milk to a large pot. Thoroughly stir in the dissolved calcium chloride. Heat the milk to 90 degrees, stirring.
  2. Add the mesophilic culture and stir until melted. Cover the pot and allow to sit and ripen for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the dissolved rennet, stirring for one minute in a gentle up & down motion. Cover the pot and allow to sit forming curds for 45 minutes.
  4. Test for a clean break by using a knife to just lift a bit of the curd. It should lift clean and smooth and the void should fill with a bit of whey.
  5. Cut the curds to 1/2″ cubes. Allow to sit and heal for 5 minutes.
  6. Indirectly heat the curds to 100 degrees, aiming for a rate of 2 degrees every 5 minutes. This is achieved by placing the pot in a sink of hot water (100-110 degrees) and stirring frequently. It will take about 45 minutes. Curds will shrink up a bit and the yellow whey will increase. I have also found it necessary to drain a bit of the water in the sink and refill it with boiling water. Stir the pot occasionally (and gently) to keep the curds from matting.
  7. Once the pot reaches 100-degrees, cover it and let sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Scoop the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie up the cheesecloth and hang for 1 hour.
  9. Take down the cheesecloth and break the curds apart with your fingers.
  10. Mix in 1 T. of salt, 1/2 T. at a time, waiting 1 minute between each addition.
  11. Place in cheesecloth lined press and press for 30 minutes at 4-5 pounds of pressure.
  12. Take the curds from the press, removing the cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth back into the mold and return the curds to the mold upside down. Press at 10-12 pounds for 1 hour.
  13. Remove and turn cheese again and press at 20-25 pounds for 12 hours.
  14. Remove cheese from press and unwrap. Air dry for 2 to 4 days, turning twice a day. Cheese is ready when a butter colored rind develops and is dry to the touch.
  15. To age the cheddar, seal in wax for up to three months and store at a temperature of 45-60 degrees.

 

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Air drying my cheddar for 3 days.

P.S. if you have cats air dry in a cracked open cupboard!

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An now it is time to wax! You will need cheese wax, a metal bowl and a pastry brush. Place some wax in the metal bol and place the bowl in a slightly larger pan filled with a bit of water. Place on medium heat and the wax will melt. Coat the cheese by painting the cheese with the brush and wax. Make sure to cover every area, otherwise mold could get in. Do a second coat of wax and let it set for a few minutes. Store your cheese until ready to eat.

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If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on