Monday, March 30, 2009

Washed Rind Cheeses

I have posted quite a few pictures of this cheese but I find it such a beautiful and interesting looking cheese, that I think it deserves another one. I can't wait to cut it, but I will hold out for a little longer. I just hope that I don't wait to long and, when cutting it, the cheese will have been over its peak.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ash Coated Cheese

I cut one of the lightly ash coated cheeses and it was pretty good. The paste is firm with the first signs of cream just under the rind.  It is not too salty, perfectly acidic with musty tones off wet leaves. There is just a slight bitterness lingering at the end.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Poil de Chat

Here is another batch of cheeses which is attacked by the Mucor "poil de chat" (cat's hair). These are also moist cheeses but if they are lightly salted, I don't know. This was the first batch of cheeses I brined in a bath not made from whey. I used tap water and salt to make the mixture. I made these cheeses upstate where I did the brining as well. Our tap water there is spring fed and the pH of the water showed 5.7. This is pretty low for tap water but knowing our soil is very acidic, I was not surprised. Because the pH of the water was so low, I figured it would be all right for the brine bath. The brine bath should have the same pH as the cheese. That's why I like to use whey for my baths, but I had contaminated the whey and it was unuseable.
In retrospect, I suspect the pH of the brine bath was higher than the pH of the cheeses. This would have left the rind greasy. I had noticed some discoloration varying from straw to bright orange. This surface is prone to the growth of black or grey mucor. 
I have cleaned the cheeses as I cleaned the ash coated ones, washed with a mixture of water and vinegar after dry brushing. I hope this will take care of it and that the wrong pH equilibrium between the cheeses and the brine bath doesn't lead to any other defects. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ash Coated Cheese

I am afraid the ash coated cheeses have attracted a Mucor contamination defect called "poil de chat" (cat's hair). This mold is attracted to cheeses that are moist and lightly salted. I also suspect that the deacidification of the rind as a result of the ash covering might have exacerbated the contamination. This Mucor is harmless but can give the cheese a bitter taste because of rapid protein breakdown.
To control the growth I brushed the cheeses and washed them with a solution of water and vinegar hoping this will prevent them from reappearing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A few weeks ago I made this implement based on images I found online. Called a Frenhau, it is traditionally used in the Auvergne to cut the curds for St. Nectaire cheese.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ash Coated Cheese

As promised some pictures and an update of the heavy coated ash cheeses. As a result of the ash the rind is very thin. My guess is this due to the high alkalinity of the ash. Only after a few days in the cave the paste broke through the rind and started to ooze out of the cheeses.  I was amazed, even more so by the taste of the paste which was sweet, most likely also due to the high alkaline property of the ash. One drawback of the ash is the grittiness. I just took some ash from our wood stove. Some bites are like eating cheese with sand.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ash Coated Cheese

Here is one of the ash coated cheeses I made about a week ago. This is one of the lightly coated ones. I took some pictures of the heavy coated cheeses too, but they were out of focus. I will take new ones and post them soon as their maturation is particularly interesting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lactic Cheese

Some lactic cheeses, aging in the cave. They are covered with which I presume is Geotrichum candidum, as I had inoculated them with this fungus. On the third photo are a few black hairs visible. I assume is a strain of Mucor.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tomme Cheese

Here is a three and a half month old tomme made of Jersey cows milk. It has a golden rind with a thin growth of yeast. It is mild with a slight earthy and delightful citric flavor. A hint of cool autumn nights and damp grass linger on the tongue.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Washed Rind Cheeses

Here is an update on the washed rind cheeses I made early January. The yeasts are starting to grow in and are drying the rind out nicely.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cheese Cave

A view in the cheese cave in Brooklyn.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ash Coated Cheese

Many lactic cheeses, especially goat cheeses, are coated with ash. Originally, the ash often came from oak charcoal used to heat the cheese vat or from clippings of grapevines. Food grade charcoal ash made from vegetables is used today. It is sometimes salted and generally tasteless. The ash is alkaline and helps to neutralize the acidity on the surface, therefore promoting the growth of molds that add to the complexity of the overall flavor.

I thought I try an experiment with some ash on a few lactic cheeses. As I don't have goats milk yet (the goats are due to freshen in a month) I used cows milk. The ashes I took from our wood stove upstate in which we mainly burn sugar maple and cherry wood. I added some salt and, starting out with full enthusiasms, I rolled some cheeses in the mixture resulting in a heavy coat of ash. Thinking this was too much of a good thing, I reverted to sprinkling which left a lighter coat. We will see what happens in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blue Cheese

Well, the blue cheeses I made recently are obviously very popular. I cut the smallest ( and "oldest") wheel a few days ago and before I could take take a picture, just a quarter was left. Made on December 29 from raw Jersey cows milk, it has a dry natural rind and a creamy inner texture. It is rich and smooth, a simple and unpretentious blue.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mysterious cheese

Made on December 7 from raw Holstein milk, these lactic coagulated cheeses are from the time I used to over salt this type. I aged them in my cave for two and a halve months, which was probably too long. The salt is overbearing and it is hard to distinguish the different flavors.
Still, certainly not a disaster, the paste and texture is wonderful, as is the rind. Certainly worth a repetition going easy on the salt.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Young Washed Rind Cheese

This is a young washed rind cheese. I made this mid January from raw Jersey milk. It is a little at the salty side because I washed it with a brine to which I had added salt. In my enthusiasm, I might have washed it too often as well. It has the typical washed rind smell, being young, lightly pungent. Apart from being too salty, it tastes nutty with a touch of citrus. The paste is pale and has semisoft texture.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Larger cheese vat

A few weeks ago I got another vat. During spring and summer I make cheese upstate as well and I did not want to travel back and forth with my cheese vat. I bought an 80 quarts stock pot, twice as large as the one I use downstate. I had to balance it with a pebble on the stove.

Here is the first time it is in use.

the milk in the vat

the DVS (direct vat starter) culture on top of the milk

checking the temperature

checking the flocculation

flocculation has begun

the curd is cut

cooking the curd

checking the pH and temperature of the whey

pressing the cheeses


another miracle