Friday, August 16, 2019

Parmesan (Recipe and Instructions)

Hello Everyone!

Today I'm going to show you how to make Parmesan cheese!

What we call "Parm" or "Parmesan" is based on the authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese made in the Parma province of Italy. Appellation Regulations prohibit any cheese maker from calling this style of cheese a Parmigiano-Reggiano unless it's made in Parma, Italy; and unless certain ingredients and methods are used.

Now I don't think the Parma police will find me if I call it a Parmigiano-Reggiano, but I will follow the rules and call it a Parmesan! :) A great example of Appellation Regulations is sparkling wine. Though it may taste like a champagne, if it's not made in Champagne, France - it's illegal to call it a champagne. :) If Scotch whiskey isn't made in Scotland, it can't be called a Scotch, but it can be called a "Blended Whisky" etc...

You get the idea! Let's make cheese!! (Click here for printable instructions)

Parmesan Cheese
(Recipe courtesy of Gavin Webber)
Yield: about 1/2 kg wheel


7 liters 2% milk
Half of: 3/8 tsp Thermophilic B Culture
1/16th tsp Lipase
Half of: 3/4 tsp Calcium Chloride
Half of: 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp Double Rennet
Cheese Brine

Note:  The ingredients have funny measurements because I had to halve the recipe. I didn't have a pot big enough to hold 14 liters of milk!

I've divided the process into 4 steps:

1. Mixing the ingredients
2. Caring for the curds
3. Molding, Pressing and Brining
4. Drying and Aging

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients

1. Heat milk to 33C or 91F. I heat mine in a double boiler on the stove, then transfer it to my "sink double boiler". I find it so much easier to regulate the temperature when the pot of milk is sitting in warm water.

2. Add the culture and let sit 5 minutes. After the five minutes, stir well, cover and let sit for 45 minutes.

During the entire process of mixing the ingredients, you need to hold your temperature at 33C or 91F. Milk will do a great job of holding the temperature on its own, but if you have the pot in the sink, you can add hot or cold water to regulate your temperature. It's a lot easier than keeping it on the stove. 

3. About 20 minutes before your milk has finished ripening, prepare your Lipase by stirring it into 1 tbsp cool filtered water. You don't have to use Lipase, but it's highly recommended for certain cheeses because it gives the cheese a sharper flavour. It also helps to break down fat molecules.

I'm putting this out there: My Lipase is two years old and I bought it from a less reputable cheese making when it comes time to taste the Parm, I will have to remember this!!

4. Add your Lipase after the milk's 45 minute ripening period. Stir well and let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your Calcium Chloride by stirring it into 1/8 cup cool filtered water; prepare your rennet by stirring it into 1/8 cup cool filtered water.

5. Add the Calcium Chloride, stir for 1 minute. Add the rennet, stir for 1 minute. Cover and let rest 45-60 minutes.

Stage 2: Caring For The Curds

6. Check for a clean break (mine took 55 minutes). A clean break happens when you insert your finger (clean!) or a knife, lift it out and hardly any residue is on your finger or knife. Kind of like doing a toothpick test when you bake a cake.

7. Cut your curds with a whisk, moving up and down slowly and gently then using a scoop-like motion. They should be about the size of little dried peas.

8. There is no rest time for Parmesan curds. Start to heat the curds to 51C or 124F over ONE HOUR, constantly stirring. Don't rush this!! Be gentle with your curds and really keep an eye on the temperature. Cheese fails are devastating, so really follow instructions to a T!! :)

9. After one hour, test your curds. Take some in your hand, if they form a ball and you can press them apart with your thumb, they are ready to press. (Sorry no photo!) Turn off the heat, cover and let the curds sit for 5 minutes.

3. Molding, Pressing And Brining

10. Drain through a cheese cloth lined mold. Cover the top of the curds with the cheese cloth and then with your follower. Pull the cheese cloth up to make sure it's nice and tight under the follower. My standard mold is about 7 inches in diameter by 3.5 inches high. I don't have a smaller one yet, so my Parm will be very thin compared to cheeses that I make that use 10 liters of milk.

**A tip is to spray the cheese cloth with vinegar so the Parmesan curds won't stick to them.

11. Press at 24 pounds for 30 minutes. I love the water bottle method! It's so easy. Here's a link to my Cheese Press post that describes how I press my cheese.

 Note: Check to make sure your whey is clear. If it's too cloudy, use less weight.

12. Gently remove the cheese from the mold and cheese cloth. Turn, re-dress and press at 50 pounds for 12 hours. This is what the wheel looks like after one hour of pressing.

13. After 12 hours, remove your cheese from the mold and the cheese cloth. It already smells so good at this stage! See what I mean about it being thin?

14. Brine your wheel for 18 hours, flipping at the halfway mark. Keep the brined cheese at around 10C or 50F in your cheese cave. Here is my recipe for Cheese Brine.

4. Drying and Aging

15. Air dry for 3 days, flipping twice daily.

16. After 3 days of drying you're ready to start aging your Parm. You need to age it in a ripening box. This is easy to put together.

I use a plastic box. Because my box is tapered (smaller on the bottom), my cheese wheel doesn't quite fit. To remedy this, I put a bowl in the box, then a plastic mesh piece and a bamboo mat to help with ventilation. I then place the cheese wheel on top. This set up really works well for me. 

Because you need to age Parm at 80-90% humidity, the easiest way to do it is to put a wet piece of paper towel in your ripening box (see the first of four photos). Believe it or not, this actually keeps the humidity at 80-90% with the cover on the ripening box! Just make sure you re-hydrate the paper towel daily to keep the humidity level where you want it. Yes, Parm needs babysitting! :)

17. Age your Parm in your cheese cave at around 10C or 50F, flipping daily for the first week, then weekly for 3 months. After three months you can take your wheel out of the ripening box and vacuum pack it. Keep it in the cheese cave and flip it weekly. It'll be ready any time between 6-12 months. I've read that aging it longer than a year makes it extremely dry.


Leanna said...

This is soooo cool. I love the idea of cheese making. Have you tested any of your aging cheeses yet?
I have a comment about the cinnamon bun comment you left for me. The powdered sugar does give me a sugar high and I really must watch my sugar. I never thought of maple syrup for the icing. I'll try that next time since I have a large bottle of it in my pantry. If you make the cinnamon buns, please, please, please, make sure you proof the yeast for at least 8 minutes or there will be no rise. Also, the dough loves warmth. I believe the towel I wrapped the bowl in and sitting the whole thing on a running hot dryer really helped the rising immensely. It cut the rise time by 2 hours from the last time I made these rolls.

Rain said...

Thanks so much Leanna :) I love cheese making! So far no, I haven't tasted any of the new batch. I started in 2017 and I made several Cheddars (only one was good), a Mozzarella which was great, a Dry Jack, also really good and an Alpine (Swiss). I didn't like it but Alex did. Back then I had mediocre equipment and really bad products unfortunately so it turned me off the whole cheese making venture. But I found a new company and got better equipped. I can already tell that my cheeses will taste better and I can't wait to try them! Last October I made some Camemberts and they turned out really well. I'll be making more in a few months!

And thank you for the note about the yeast! I follow recipes down to the letter because I HATE fails. I usually wrap my dough in a towel and stick it in the microwave, I've found it's the best place in this house to encourage it to rise! Great idea about the dryer though! I will make these during the next week. We LOVE our sweets! I'll post about it but I'll email you to let you know how it went!! :)

Leftycrafter said...

I can see that patience is a virtue when making cheese. This was fascinating to see. The photos really helped me comprehend what you were doing.

Rain said...

Thanks Marsha :) It's a long process and I love every second! Yes patience definitely!! And arm power for stirring that cheese during the curd cooking time! :)

Magic Love Crow said...

Yummy!!!! Another great post!! This is all so fascinating!!! Big Hugs!

Rain said...

Thanks Stacy :)