Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Bloomy White Camembert

This week I tried my very first bloomy white cheese, a Camembert! In the photo I added an arrow to show you that as of yesterday, that bloomy white mold is slowly and gradually forming, which makes me very happy!

I love how a pot of milk with some cultures and additives can turn into any kind of cheese imaginable! This cheese smelled SO GOOD as I was making it, likely due to all the different bacteria that was added. You want a nice creamy gooey cheese as your result so as you stir, you have to pretend that you are trying not to break bubbles...that gently! Usually I stir the cheese quite a bit to release the whey, which creates a drier cheese. But in this case, I wanted the whey to stick around for as long as possible to keep the curds nice and saturated.

These are the molds. They are called Camembert/Brie Hoops. They have no tops or bottoms and are perforated on all sides to help the whey gently release over time. I bought some "cheese mats" too. Those are the plastic mats under the hoops. They are very sturdy and act as a colander. You don't need them to start, but I have to say it's a treat to have the proper equipment!

All of the curds and whey are gently ladled into the hoops. It takes a while because you have to wait for some whey to drain to add more. This process took me about a half an hour to fill the two hoops.

After a good full 24 hours of draining and flipping at room temperature, the cheese starts to form pretty well! 

I was able to take them out of the hoops after about 30 hours total and now they are in the ripening box forming more bloomy white. I'll do some updates over the next six to eight weeks as they progress and I'm really hoping that they are nice and creamy inside when it's time to cut them open!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Curd Cheese - New Technique, Same Problem!

Here is my bowl of curd cheese! I made this for poutine night the other day. This little bit of cheese takes a full 8 hours to make! I tried the same recipe I used before but a different technique to dry it up.

It's called "Cheddaring". Basically when the curd is all cooked and drained, you flatten it out and cut it into two pieces. You then layer the pieces and top it with heat for 15 minutes.

In my case, I filled two ziptop bags with hot water and put that on top of the layers. This is to help the curd continue to release whey and dry out. You repeat this process by flipping the curd from top to bottom, draining off any expelled whey, and making sure the heat on top is around 100F - all for a total of two hours. curd still didn't squeak! When the curd cheese squeaks, it means you have the right texture for melting. I guess it's the same idea as the Mozzarella. If the Mozza doesn't stretch, it won't melt. If the curd doesn't squeak, it won't melt.

The flavour is definitely spot on...but the curd didn't melt with the hot gravy poured on top. I have another recipe that calls for buttermilk, and it's (quote) GUARANTEED (unquote) to squeak...we shall see the next time!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cheese Updates

Colby Cheese: As I suspected, the holes are due to the fact that it wasn't pressed enough. When I made this huge cheese, which took 10 liters of milk!!!, I didn't have a big enough cheese mold. I wrapped the cheese in cheesecloth, then put it in a round plastic colander. 

When you make a hard cheese, it needs to be pressed down by weight. Between the cheese and your weight, you have what's called a "follower". It's basically the top part that pushes the cheese flat and holds the weight on top evenly.

I didn't have this piece of equipment for a larger cheese. I have one for my Cheddars, but they can hold a maximum curd from 6 liters of milk. Since my Colby was made from 10 liters of milk, I had to improvise with a cappuccino saucer, which wasn't as flat as I would have wanted!

If it were flat, then I would have no holes because I have the right amount of weight. Now, that's all technicalities because my cheese will still have a nice flavour! Mystery solved! I've ordered a bigger cheese mold with a follower.

I gave into temptation! I opened up the aging Mozzarella! I don't regret it at all, it was so delicious and melted very well on the pizzas we made. As you can see, I did a side-by-side comparison of 2 balls of Mozza that were made in the same batch. The one on the left is the one I aged for a week after it dried. The one on the right went right into the freezer after it was made. The aging process dried out the cheese and gave it a sharper flavour, as well as made it perfect for grating. The non-aged Mozza was very good, but the taste was much milder and the texture softer. A different cheese for a different purpose!

Look at this lovely cheese! I'm so proud that I made this! :) I hope I can always recreate this Pizza Mozzarella now! I just don't want to buy anymore store-bought "cheese food" anymore!!

12-Month Cheddar: The Cheddar that will age for the next year dried nicely. I had to brush off some mould spots a few times, but otherwise, the rind is nice and hard now after a week of drying. The first two Cheddars I made were coated with an orange cheese coating. This was to help keep mould off the cheese - didn't really live up to its claim, so I decided no more coating. Natural rind then sealing is the way to go!

Newcastle Infused Cheddar: I can't wait to cut into this one! I'm aging this until Christmas or New Year's. It smells like the beer and Cheddar mix that I thought it would! It's very exciting! I now have 5 Cheddars in the cheese cave.

I love my vacuum sealer! I do know that vacuum sealing ages the cheese differently from waxing or natural coating. Waxing provides minute air flow which helps in the aging process. Vacuum sealing is what it seals food from air coming in. It will still age as the bacteria develops, but not as well as it would in other conditions. The flavour may not be as rich as it would if I had a real cheese cave too. But honestly? For my needs right now, it's the best choice. Cheesy-snobs would say that only amateurs vacuum-seal (yes I've heard that one...)...and that waxing is the only way to coat a cheese; then there are other so-called home-cheese-experts who will say that natural wrapping (with lard and cheesecloth) is the only true method of aging a cheese. Why must everyone be a critic??? I don't have the luxury of space so I've made my choice and I'm happy with it! :)

One day I'll wax a cheese at the same time as I vacuum-seal one, and test the results side by side. Then I'll probably decide which way I like better. And hopefully one day I'll have a big large REAL cave in the basement that is sealed from critters so that I can naturally age all of my cheeses!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Twelve-Month Aged Cheddar and Newcastle Infused Cheddar

Just for the record (since I blogged about this already on my Garden blog), I made two new Cheddars this last week. My favourite beer in the whole world is Newcastle! 

So I pulled out my recipe for Cheddar (on the side bar) and made a Newcastle-Infused Cheddar (the wheel on the right). You can't imagine how amazing it smells...I need smello-rama for Blogger or something lol...I'm going to age this one until Christmas or New Year's. Every Christmas and New Year's Day, I make appetizers, cheese and charcuterie I'm not sure when we'll eat it, but it won't make it into 2018 that's for sure! :)

The cheese on the left is a regular Cheddar that will be aged for one year, ready on Labour Day 2018.

I've accomplished most of my cheese goals for the year in the last two months. I bought supplies to make Camembert, I can't wait to try that out. I'm just waiting to make more Curd cheese for our next poutine night. I have plans for cream cheese too when I need it for a recipe.

And I'm still itching to try a Blue. I just need to find the proper bacteria cultures, but also, I'm not sure I can age that in my little bar fridge/cheese cave. It could infect the other cheeses with it's special lovely mold...we'll see. 

Alex just sent me a list of cheeses he would love for me to make, and I'm up for the challenge:

Camembert Blue
Red Leicester

This is going to be fun!!! :)

The Colby is looking amazingly orange!!! And the Pizza Mozzarella is changing colours - I'm very pleased! I had to brush the Colby for mold dots this morning and as soon as it dries in a few hours, I'll be sealing both cheeses. This hobby has already been so rewarding and I haven't even tried most of them yet!!