Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Alpine Cheese

Last December I tried an attempt to make some Alpine style cheeses. Although the cows were in the barn they were fed on dry hay only, so I thought the milk should be clear of the gas forming bacteria Clostridium tyrobutyricum. The first cheese I made on December 14 and it started to swell after about ten days. I found this really discouraging because the gas produced in the cheese I attributed to the bacteria just mentioned. Around that time I read somewhere that bacteria responsible for the creation of  holes in Alpine cheeses are naturally present in raw milk. These are the good bacteria, called proprionic bacteria. They are added to the milk when making Swiss style cheese from pasteurized milk. They are also responsible for the sweet nutty taste of this type of cheese.
Anyway, I have four Alpine wheels aging in the cave. All made around the same time. Two of them are pretty swollen, one shows less signs of swelling and the fourth one is hardly swollen. This wheel was the last one I made. After seeing the other wheels swelling so soon at an amazing pace, I added a product called "holdbac". This supposedly prevents the swelling. How, I don't know. So far it seems to work. I am not looking for swelling at all, neither from good nor bad bacteria.
Recently I cut into a Gouda I had made around the same time. This type of cheese can suffer from the same defects caused by the same organisms. The cheese had a lot of holes in it, it tasted sharp and sweet, clearly not what a Gouda should taste like. I fear the worst for the Alpines but keep my fingers cross.

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