Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fontina (Recipe and Instructions)


Hello Friends :)

Today I'm going to show you how to make Fontina cheese. (For a printable recipe, click here)

Fontina Val d'Aosta is an Italian cheese that is sweet, sharp and nutty. Some say it tastes a bit like a Parmesan. This is a cheese that has an appellation status, if it's not made in that region of Italy with the correct cultures and milk, it can't be called a Fontina.

But I've seen cheeses labeled "Fontina" that were made here in Quebec, I don't know how they found a loop hole for the name! But these are more Swedish-style cheeses made from different cultures that produce a buttery tangy taste.

Fontina can taste mildly milky to earthly and mushroomy. Some have a sweet odour too. Fontina is a good melty cheese.

So which ones did I make? Your guess is as good as mine and I'll find out in December lol! I made two Fontina cheese wheels, one with an MA11 culture and one with an Alp D culture. (I'm working on a post about cultures, it's a tough one, I hope to have it done in the next few months!)

Both wheels will be ready on the same day for a proper taste test!!


Fontina
Yield: Each wheel is about 1 kg.

Ingredients

10 liters whole milk
1/8 tsp MA11 culture
(For my second wheel I used 1/8 tsp AlpD culture)
1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
1/4 tsp double strength rennet
Cool filtered water

Directions

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients
Stage 2: Caring for the curds
Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining
Stage 4: Drying and Aging

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients


1. In a double boiler, heat the milk to 88F or 31C.


2. Add the culture and let sit 5 minutes. Stir well and let ripen at 88F or 31C for one hour.


3. At the 55 minute mark, prepare your Calcium Chloride by mixing it into 1/4 cup cool filtered water. Prepare your rennet by mixing into 1/4 cup cool filtered water.


4. As you stir the milk, add the Calcium Chloride and stir well for one minute. Add the rennet and stir well for no more than one minute.

5. Let sit for 50 minutes at 88F or 31C.

Stage 2: Caring for the curds


6. Check for a clean break. If your knife comes out clean, it's a clean break.


7. Cut the curds into pea-sized shapes using a balloon whisk. Use and up and down, side to side and back and forth motion very slowly to cut the curds.


8. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 3 liters of water to 145F or 63C.


9. Stir the curds for 10 minutes, keeping the temperature at 88F or 31C.

10. Let sit for 5 minutes.


I made some Ricotta during this process. I felt organized enough to multi-task!


11. Remove 8 cups of whey by using a strainer and ladle.


12. Wash the curds by pouring 8 cups of your prepared water into the pot.

13. Stir well, at this point your temperature should be 102F or 39C. If it isn't, heat it up or cool it down by putting the pot into a sink of cold water.


14. Stir for 10 minutes then let sit for 5 minutes.

Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining


15. Drain your curds into a cheesecloth-lined mold.

16. Let it sit draining for 10 minutes.


17. Carefully cover the top of the curds with the cheesecloth - making sure it's tight and there are no creases. Put on your follower.


18. Press at 11 pounds for 30 minutes.


19. Remove, flip and re-redress. Press at 22 pounds for 12 hours.


20. Brine for 10 hours in the cheese cave. Flip at the 5 hour mark.


Tip: When you flip your cheese in the brine, sprinkle a little more cheese salt on top of the wheel. This will replenish your brine as you use it.

Stage 4: Drying and Aging


21. Air dry your wheel for 3 days, flipping twice a day.

22. Age your Fontina in a ripening box in the cheese cave at 50F or 10C. Every 2 days for the first month, you want to wash your cheese and flip it. This will encourage it to form its rind. (See my video on Washing The Fontinas for instructions)

23. After the first month, wash and flip your wheels twice weekly for a maximum of 3 months.

Note: If your wheels become very mouldy, you can clean them and vacuum pack them after the first month but they may not develop too much in the flavour department. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Parmesan Update - Humidity Issues


Hi Everyone,

This morning when I went to check on my Parm, this is what I saw. Now remember, mould isn't bad for cheese as long as it's not black mould. Blue, green and white is just fine as long as you wash it off as it develops; or cut it off when you're ready to eat it. As long as the mould hasn't completely taken over the cheese, it's okay.

But...this Parmesan wheel is growing mould WAY too fast. I check it twice a week and I shouldn't be seeing so much! Unfortunately it started to creep into the little cracks in the cheese which I'm not happy about. Also, I've noticed brown spots forming on the wheel as well. I thought it was a by-product of the mould growth, but my gut was telling me otherwise.


I cleaned up the wheel by wiping it with brine and using a little brush to brush off the brown spots and get the mould out of the little cracks. I washed it with brine and let it sit for a while to dry as I tried to look up why this was happening.

Good old Cheese Forum! I found a thread where someone was saying the same thing about his Beaufort cheese - which is similar to a Parmesan - both develop rinds, both are hard cheeses and both need to be ripened at 85-95% humidity at 10C (50F) as they age.

Two different people said they thought the humidity was too high. But the man who posted the issue said that his ripening box was holding a steady humidity of 93%.


My ripening box is holding a steady humidity of 91%. One of the more experienced cheese makers on the forum explained that most cheeses ripen in a controlled humid environment that is larger than a home cheese maker's ripening box is. He continued to say that the larger cheese caves have more air flow as the humidity and temperature varies now and then. 

He said most recipes for cheeses that need to age in ripening boxes, don't assume that the cheeses will age in a little tupperware (like most home cheese makers use), so the humidity, though at the right range, is still too high for that small little space.


Eureka. That was likely my problem. So I put the Parm wheel in a larger ripening box for more air flow and put a smaller piece of wet paper towel inside. I'm going to keep an eye on it for a week or so to see if that solves the problem.

If it doesn't I have two more tips:

1. Rub olive oil all over the wheel. This is supposed to inhibit mould growth.

2. Vacuum pack the wheel. I don't really want to do this because it won't age as well.

I'll update soon!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Ricotta (Recipe and Instructions)



Hi Friends :)

Today I'll show you how very easy it is to make Ricotta cheese. After I started making my own Ricotta, I never bought it from the store ever again, and it's been years now! It's so easy and so inexpensive!

I read this on Food.com:

"The origins of Ricotta cheese reach back into Latin and Mediterranean history. It is believed to have been created in the Roman countryside as travelers cooked their food in big kettles over open fires. The product was cooked twice to extract the cheese from the buttermilk. The name Ricotta is derived from the Latin word recocta, meaning re-cooked or cooked twice. "

Ricotta
(For a printable recipe, click here)

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients

2 liters milk (your choice, but the higher the fat content the more cheese you'll get, so I use whole milk)
1 tsp salt (optional)
1/3 cup lemon juice

Directions

1. Heat your milk slowly to 200F.

2. Remove from heat, whisk in the salt. Gently pour in the lemon juice and give it a slow stir for a few seconds. Let stand for 15 minutes.

3. Drain your curds and whey for about an hour in a sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Goat Cheese (Recipe and Instructions)


Hello Friends!

Today I'm going to show you how easy it is to make Goat Cheese! Otherwise known as Chèvre (French for goat), this cheese is wonderfully creamy and mild. I vowed to do taste test videos, but this cheese is now long gone, Alex and I ate it all up with bread and Melba toast crackers! I'm definitely going to make this again and again.

The cost of the goats milk for me was $10 for 2 liters. This recipe made about 500 grams of cheese. The stuff I used to buy at the store was good, we really liked it most of the time. It was tangy, sometimes sour, very crumbly and cost $3.50 for 125 grams. Eating the store bought variety, I thought I knew how good goat cheese could be until I made my own! Not only is home cheese making a FRUGAL** choice, by gum it's delicious! :) And...no preservatives! :)

**After the initial cost of buying your cultures and additives and equipment that is!


Yield: About 500g

Ingredients: 

2 liters whole goats milk
1/8 tsp Meso B Culture
1 drop Calcium Chloride
1 drop double strength rennet
Cool filtered water
1% cheese salt by weight of the final cheese

Directions:

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients
Stage 2: Caring for the curds
Stage 3: Draining and Salting

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients


1. Heat your milk to 77F or 25C. You can heat it directly on the burner - no need for a double boiler since the temperature of the milk is quite low.


2. Sprinkle the culture into the milk and let sit 5 minutes. 


3. Prepare a small dish with 1 drop of Calcium Chloride into 1 tbsp cool filtered water. Do the same with 1 drop of double strength rennet into 1 tbsp cool filtered water. I bought an eye dropper at the pharmacy specifically for my cheese making - it really comes in handy!


4. After the 5 minutes, add the Calcium Chloride, stir well for one minute. Add the double strength rennet and stir well for no more than one minute. The reason that you don't want to stir the rennet for more than a minute is because it starts to set the curd right away. You want it to mix well, but not upset the curd formation.


5. Let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

Stage 2: Caring for the curds


6. After the 24 hours, check your curd. If the curd pulls away from the pot, you're ready to go. Cut the curd into large 1/2 inch cubes.

Stage 3: Draining and Salting


7. Ladle the curds extremely gently into a butter muslin lined colander. Goat milk curds are ultra-sensitive. Butter muslin is finer than cheesecloth and will help the cheese to release whey much more slowly, keeping that creamy texture.


8. Hang the curds for 7 hours at room temperature. My tripod came in handy for this! :)

9. Continue to drain the curds in the fridge for 2-4 days depending on how dry you want your cheese. I drained mine for an additional 2 days and it was the consistency of a cream cheese. I just let it drain in the muslin, in a colander over a bowl in the fridge.


10. When you're done draining the cheese, weigh it. 


11. Calculate 1% of the weight and add that amount of salt. My cheese weighed just under 500 grams, so I added 5 grams of cheese salt. (In hindsight, I will half the salt)


12. Add the salt and mix it well.



13. Use it as is or roll it into logs. I divided the cheese into three and put one third into a dish to use right away; I rolled the other two thirds into logs and put them in the fridge. My hope was that they would harden up but they didn't. They were still amazingly delicious, but next time I'll drain them longer to see if I can make the consistency a little drier.

Note: This cheese will be nice and fresh 10 days refrigerated - from the day you drain it at room temperature.

Note: I found this cheese to be really salty, next time I'll reduce the amount of salt in half. I also would like it to be drier, so I'll increase the draining time.