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.
The word fourme is derived from the word forma, meaning shape. And the word for cheese in French is fromage. The share the same Latin root. Fourme d’Ambert and dates to the Druids and the Gauls during Roman times. It is one of France’s oldest cheese.
This is one the the mildest blue cheeses. The texture is beyond creamy and delicious. Subtle flavors of fruits, chocolate, tobacco, nuts and mushroom dance on the tongue at every bite. The inside is very pale and lines of blue traverse the cheese where the skewer went through.
To eat or not to eat the crust: that is the question! I have been debating this very quote for weeks! I read a normal blue cheese does not make a crust. When the cheese is ripe the mold is wiped off. So when a natural rind resembling rough stone formed I was not sure what to do. It was not in any recipe I read. But I did some research on other similar cheeses and the answer seemed to be a resounding YES. That was an excellent decision. Once cut the crust was a lot thinner than I expected and the flavor was mild, just like a Camembert.
Making a blue cheese the first time is terrifying. Blue fuzzy foods normally go in the trash! But for a blue cheese it is desired. Over the weeks the transformation is fascinating and scary. Is it doing what it is suppose to? When the day came to taste the cheese my fear vanished. I knew this was the crowning jewel of all my handmade cheeses. I really could have eaten all in one shot. I did not and let several people try it. Everyone was amazed and said it looked like a real French artisan cheese.
The Fourme d’Ambert freshly pressed on the right, next to the beer brined Ale Washed Trappist Cheese.
A fresh coating of blue fuzz Penicillium roqueforti. This is the most obvious proof that cheese is a living thing!
A month into the aging process. The cheese is all covered with a white fuzz on top.
The finished cheese after 7 weeks. Shriveled up and black with a white powder. Gold, just like a truffle.
See how creamy the inside is, gravity struggling to let the inside ooze out into a creamy flow.
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.
Fourme d’Ambert Cheese
- 2 gallon whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 th tsp. mesophilic culture
- 1/16 th tsp. Penicillium roqueforti
- 3/8 th tsp. calcium chloride
- 1/4 th tsp. rennet
- 1 pound cheese salt
- ½ tablespoon calcium chloride
- ½ teaspoon vinegar
- Heat milk to 90°F, stir in cultures. Let ripen, maintaining temperature, for an hour.
- Stir in calcium chloride and then rennet for 30 seconds.
- Leave for 90 minutess until the curds give a clean break before cutting.
- Cut curds to ½ inch and stir.
- Maintain 90°F, occasionally stirring gently for 1 hour until curds are small and firm.
- Remove whey down to surface of curds, reserving 1/2 gallon whey for brine.
- Ladle curds into a prepared sterilized mold.
- Once all curds are in the mold, press on light pressure for 1 hour, redress, and press for 8 additional hours on light pressure.
- After pressing, remove the cheese from the mold
- Make brine with reserved whey and 1 pound of cheese salt stirred until dissolved. Mix in calcium chloride and vinegar.
- Brine it for 4 hours, flip it, and brine for 4 more hours.
- Dry the cheese on plastic mats in a plastic tub with the lid partially open to allow some drying off of the cheese, and store at 75F for 24 hr.
- Pierce it with a skewer every inch or so.
- Store the cheese at 90- 95% RH and 50F for 6 - 8 weeks in ripening containers. Turn every day for several days and then turn once a week.