Sunday, December 20, 2009


I made these cheese about two months ago in the style of Reblochon. Whether they taste like a this cheese, I don't know. I had the pleasure of eating Reblochon only once, this summer in France. As far as I remember, the cheeses here did not taste like the cheese I tasted in France, but I imagine the not all Reblochon tastes the same. 
But this is not the reason for this post. These three cheese came from the same batch. I treated the rind different during aging and ended up with three rather different cheeses.
The cheese in the first two photos I washed with lightly salted water. Besides some mould in the cavities, the rind is smooth orangy yellow. The wheel in the next two pictures I washed in Marc de Borgougne. This promotes the development of  coryneform bacteria which gives it a meaty flavor. The last cheese I let go wild, I did not do anything to the rind. This rind is dry and crispy, musty and crusty.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Loomis Blue

Loomis Blue is a blue veined cheese made from Ayshire milk in the style of Devon blue. The cheese is covered in a beautiful white rind and has a firm marbled blue creamy texture; it's ivory paste is smooth with a of complexity of flavors that burst in the mouth.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


My desire to make a more moisture cheese has brought me back to a Taleggio recipe on Peter Dixon's website. I have tried this recipe numerous times when I started making cheese and I always liked the result. My skills as a cheesemaker have improved since then and so has my equipment. I use a pH meter now to monitor the acidity level of the curds and whey and am able to create cheeses of more consistent quality. The milk I use now is also of a better quality. Recently I have found a source of very high quality Jersey milk. The lactic test I did with this milk for this batch formed a very solid curd. It did not have any imperfections, no gas formation or other breaks in the curd. It was very exciting to see the test result. 
I made this batch on December 6, so the cheeses have been in the cave for a few days. I have start washing them with beer and the first signs of yeast and corynefrom bacteria are apparent.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Finally I have managed to make a cheese with a resemblance of Epoisses both in appearance, texture and taste. It might not come close to the cheese made by Gaec des Marronniers, but it is as close to an Epoisses style cheese as I have ever been. 
I made this batch on November 9 from raw Ayshire milk. I used 5 gallons of milk with a pH of 6.79. At a temperature of 78F I added the culture: 1/16 tsp MA4001 and 1/16 tsp Aroma B. After 1 hour the pH had dropped to 6.55 and I added 1 ml of microbial coagulant to the milk. I let this sit until the pH had reached 4.51, which was after for about 14 hours, before ladling the curd into the molds. At 9.30 PM the next morning I turned the cheeses in the molds and let them drain for another 12 hours before I salted one side. 12 Hours later I released the cheese from the molds and salted the other side. At this time I put the cheeses under the fan for a drying session of about 10 hours before moving them to the cave. For the first week I washed them with a light salty brine. After that I washed them a few times a week with some Marc de Buorgogne for another two weeks. 
The rind shows some contamination from different moulds and yeasts. My place of production as well as aging room is swarming with all kinds of micro organisms and this lactic cheese is very susceptible to contamination. But with a little more focus on the washing process I should be able to make a cleaner looking cheese.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's in the Cave

All the cheeses have been back in Brooklyn for a month or so after spending the summer upstate due to the heat in the city. I can attend to them more regularly because I spend most of my time in the city. This also allows me to start with some washed rind cheeses as seen in the third and fourth photograph. The recipes for these cheeses are based on the procedure for Reblochon cheese. Jim Wallace, the technician from New England Cheese Supply was so kind to send me a target sheet for this cheese and when I was in France over the summer I visited a Reblochon maker in the Haute Savoie. I shall post about this visit in a few weeks. I am currently washing three wheels with Marc de Bourgogne and two wheels with lightly salted water. One wheel I have allowed to go wild. This is the green wheel in the third picture.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gaec des Marronniers

When I was in France in August, I spent a few days in Epoisses in Burgundy. Epoisses is a little village after which one of France's great cheeses is named. I had developed an interest in this cheese and hoped to visit one or two cheese makers there. As a teenager I had spend some time in Burgundy, so I thought it would be fun to visit it again. I mainly remember it from then as hilly with winding country roads. This time it reminded me of the Midwest. I live in America now as opposed to in the Netherlands before and it has dramatically changed my referential point of view. It seems to me to be the breadbasket of France.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast on a large farm of, if I remember correctly, 1000 acres of arable land. The farm grows rapeseed, wheat and used to grow potatoes. It had at least three humongous John Deere tractors and I was very excited when the farmer showed me those beauties on our last day there. Turned out that the farm we were staying on was the farm where Robert Berthaut and his wife Simone had reinvented Epoisses in the fifties and thus saved this cheese from becoming extinct. Unfortunately we had to catch a train back to London. (The TVG is fantastic, I really recommend it for the US) There was no time for a visit to their current manufacturing facilities.

The photos here are from a visit to another Epoisses producer, Gaec des Marronniers in Origny-sur Seine, about 50 km northeast from the village of Epoisses. I had found this maker on the website of the Syndicat de Defense de l’Epoisses. Being the only farmstead producer and only producer of Epoisses from raw milk, they seemed to me the right one to visit. We showed up unannounced and after mentioning that we had come all the way from America and only had one day, they were so kind as to give us a tour right away. We were asked to put on disposable gowns, hairnets and boots before we could enter the facility. After walking through a sterilizing dip bath, we entered a very sterile environment not like any cheesemaking facility I have seen so far. The walls were white, the floors tiled, everything was spotless. Cheese was present in various stages of its process.

Being a farmstead producer they only make cheese from milk produced on their own farm. They started in 2002 and have 200 cows, Montbeliards and d’Alp Brunes. Sixty of these cows are milkers. The rest are either calves or heifers.

The evening milk is mixed with the morning milk before it is renneted. The coagulation takes place in white rectangular plastic containers of about 15 gallon. They are visible on photo four (to the right) and five (stacked in the back). After coagulation, the curd is scooped in plastic perforated forms of about 5” diameter and left to drain. After sufficient drainage the cheeses are salted and dried for (I think) 24 hours before they move into the aging room (last photo). Here they are first washed with salted water for two weeks before the washing with Marc de Bourgogne begins. Gradually the amount of Marc is increased during this stage which last for about another two weeks. By then the cheeses have developed a deep orange rind but are still very chalky and mild inside. Ready for shipment, they are wrapped in micro perforated film and packed in individual wooden boxes. On our leave we bought some cheeses and after having traveled via England all the way across the Atlantic, it had ripened nicely and developed in one of the most delightfull cheeses I have ever had.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Batch 101

Just out of curiosity, I counted how many batches of cheese I have made so far. I have kept records of all my batches. Turned out I have made exactly 100 batches of cheese. Time for an improvement. 
I have seen several cheesemakers using a number system to keep track of their cheeses. Every batch has a number which is pressed in the wheels from that batch. I have been meaning to implement this system as well. Although I only make cheese in limited quantities, my current system has once in a while lead to some confusion.  So I cut some numbers from some plastic milk bottles and put this in the bottom of the mold at the final turning. Et voila, batch number 101. This is obviously hard to do for lactic cheeses so for now I will have to stick to my old tracking system for these batches.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blue Cheese

This is a cheese I have been agonizing about. I made this cheese early July after recipe for Devon Blue. I had gathered information from various sources about the make procedure for this cheese and was confident that I had a good recipe.
I made two wheels. A small wheel of three pound and the one in the picture, which weighs about seven pound. The smaller one was wonderful. It was moist, buttery and nutty, full of intense flavors. It was gone in no time. My French friend said that it reminded her of the Blue de Gex we had in France. I was very pleased with this likening and took it as a great complement.
The smaller one had gone into the aging room after the salting procedure. But because I was aging cheeses in a refrigerator, there was not enough room for the larger one. So it sat in my apartment in the sweltering heat for at least two weeks. I was convinced that the cheese would be a dry crumbly disaster. Despite my fear, the cheese turned out alright. Although not as moist and buttery as the smaller wheel and lacking the intensity of flavors, it is still a good blue cheese.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some Cheeses

Here are some cheeses I made a while ago. The two on top are tommes I made in June and the one below is an  Alpine style cheese made in January. It is striking how different the colors are. The tommes are yellow from the cows being out on pasture while the Alpine is pale because the cows were indoors, fed on hay.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Epoisses style

Here is a quick update on the Epoisses style cheese I have been trying to make for some weeks. The cheeses in these pictures have been washed with mildly salted water for almost two weeks. On a few cheeses the rind is very fragile. I suspect it might be a little to moist in the environment they are in. The cheeses also show signs of a white mold which I think is Geotrichum candidum. I didn't add this to the milk, it must be present in the refrigerator the cheeses are in. The rind is slightly yellow, no clear real signs yet of the Brevibacterium linens. Maybe when I wash them with Marc de Bourgogne, which I will start in a few days, it will appear.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ayrshire Blue

The results of the blue cheeses I made over the summer were of mixed success. Some turned out bad because of poor milk quality, another cheese suffered because I was in France for two weeks and one batch just turned out badly for no apparent reason. I have obviously still a lot to learn so what better to do than to make another batch of blue.
This time I started with 10 gallons of Ayrshire milk at 86 F. As cultures I added MM1oo and a little LM057 which helps with the development of cavities where the blue mold will grow. The spots in the milk is the added Penicillium roqueforti. This will create the blue mold. 
After adding adding 7.5 mml of microbial rennet it took 60 minutes to reach the desired consistency and the curd was ready to be cut. I cut it gently for 5 minutes to pea size particles after which I let the curds settle for 5 minutes. Without heating I then stirred the curd for fifty minutes or until the curd had reached the desired texture. After this I let the curds settle for about 10 minutes before I hooped the curd directly from the vat with the cheese forms. I did not drain the whey from the vat before I started the last procedure.
I turned the cheeses after 15 minutes and then every half hour to an hour for the next four hours. The next day I turned them twice. The third day I salted one side and the fourth day I salted the other side before I moved the cheeses to the aging facility. I keep my fingers cross that these will turn into some good blue cheeses


Friday, September 18, 2009

Epoisses style

As mentioned in the previous post, I had made a new batch of lactic cheeses to try to create something resembling Epoisses again. This is my first batch of lactic cheese from Ayrshire milk. All previous batches of lactic cow cheese I made, had been from Holstein milk. 
I used 4.5 gallons of milk at a temperature of 68F, added culture (MM100 and Aroma B) and 2 ml of microbial coagulant. I let this coagulate for about 24 hours before ladling the curd into the molds. After 14 hours of draining I turned the cheeses in the molds and let them drain for another 24 hours before I salted one side. 12 Hours later I released the cheese from the molds and salted the other side. At this time I put the cheeses under the fan for a drying session of about 10 hours. 
After the drying session, it was the morning of the fourth day after starting the making process. The cheeses are starting to smell strongly fermentative and I even noticed some signs of a mildly orange rind. I am very excited and am newly encouraged by these signs that this time I am on the right track. It is time to move them to a cooler and more humid environment before they dry out.