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.

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