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.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Washing The Fontinas and Making Raclette Cheese


Hi Friends,

Today I'm posting a video to show you how to wash your cheese if you need to! Also, I'm about to start making a Raclette cheese. Raclette is actually a dish of roasted potatoes with melted cheese on top; but over the years, and with the invention of the Raclette machine, it's also known as a type of Swiss-style melty cheese...mmmm!


This was our New Year's Eve dinner in 2017. Alex and I had just found a Raclette machine at a thrift store and we wanted to try it! 


Back then I bought the cheese but I'm hoping that the cheese I start today will be ready for this New Year's Eve!


Oh the excitement of melted cheese!!! :)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Emergency Cheese Cave! Cheese Updates


Hello Friends!

How are you all doing today? I think that summer is officially over this year, sigh. Usually we get an especially hot and humid September. For the last x number of years, I've been swimming in the lake all the way to the beginning of October! But this year, it's already close to zero at night. Oh well.

I wanted to give you an update on a few things. Firstly, I've made two new Fontina cheeses using two different types of culture for comparison. They are air drying and will be ready for ripening boxes in a few days. I'll post about that in the next few weeks! I have a goat milk cheese going too, which I'll also post about soon.


Also...I got too big for my britches lol...I ran out of room in my cheese cave! It's a small fridge and I have four wheels in there already, plus the Parmesan in a ripening box and the brine...For the next three cheeses, they need to be in ripening boxes for 2-3 months too and I have no more shelves!


So the "emergency cheese cave" has been born. I took an old Styrofoam cooler we had in the basement.


I added two blue cooler thingies (dollar store) and did a 12-hour test to see if it would hold my temperature between 10-12C. It passed the test! It varied from 9.6C to 11.3C - perfect!


My emergency cheese cave will now sit on the counter in the kitchen - safely away from the pets. I'll have to replace the blue cooler thingies every twelve hours to keep the temperature right, so I'll have to hit the dollar store in the next few days to get a few more.

Necessity and lack of funds are the mother of all invention!


Jarlsberg Update: My Jarlsberg is aging at room temperature in the kitchen. If you look close, you can see that the cheese wheel is becoming a little spongy, it's also really expanding in the vacuum seal. This is normal as the "eyes" or holes are developing on the inside of the cheese! I have to watch to make sure it doesn't burst out of the seal. If it does, I have to simply reseal it. This will be ready in about 3 weeks!


And here is a video update of my Parmesan. It's doing what it's supposed to do!

Update after I filmed this video: After doing some more research today, I learned that it's a good idea to have your ripening box slightly open for air circulation. This is how I accomplish that:


A binder clip on the edge of the box with the top on. This leaves a slight crack in the opening for air flow.

Also, I read that you need to wipe the lid on the inside daily to make sure no moisture drips on your cheese, which causes it to mould faster! Forever learning!!! :)