Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lactic Goat Cheese With Ash

While making some lactic goat cheeses from the curd I have been describing recently, I covered a few cheeses with ash. This time I did not use ash, but charcoal. I was wondering what is used traditionally. There is obviously a difference; ash is burnt material while charcoal is partly burnt. After seeing some images from ash (cendre) coated cheeses, it occurred to me that the coating seemed black (the color of charcoal) rather than gray, the color of ash. 
So I got some charcoal from our wood stove and ground it in a pestle and mortar. I covered the cheeses with this. We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gassy Curd

I keep struggling with the goat milk I get. The people I get it from have the goats as pets. It started with one 4H project for their son but now they are milking 5 goats. When I collect some milk, I usually get around 15 gallon which is the milk from the previous three days of milking. Any milk older than three days I don't think is good anymore to make cheese from. 
But even this fresh milk has not been so good. I had already post an entry about gas developing in lactic goat curd. After rereading mentioned book about farmstead goat cheese in this entry, my suspicion was affirmed. This premature bloating of the curd occurs frequently in warm weather. It is the result of contamination of the milk by coliform bacteria. These bacteria produce gas resulting in a spongy curd. The curd floats on top of the whey and a multitude of holes can be seen in the body. If the bloating is very pronounced, the vat can overflow, which happened to me recently. The author of the book says that the curd can be processed but can never produce a quality cheese. Indeed, the cheese I have produced from such curd tend to be on the dry side. 
The author suggests several remedies. First he suggests to check the sanitary conditions of milking. In fact, I suspect that this is where most of the contamination arrives from. As said, the goats are just hobby goats and the milk is not produced for commercial reason. I get the milk for free so I don't want to be too demanding and make drawing the milk more difficult. But I have asked whether they mind washing the udders before they milk. I hope this will help reducing the contamination. Next, I might see whether I can find a filter for their milking system. I do find quite a few hair in the milk.
Another remedy the author suggests is to stimulate the acidification. I did a test and coagulated some of this milk without any starter culture. Because the acidification was not stimulated, the bloating was even more pronounced and the curd developed a nasty smell. 
Another suggestion is to lower the curdling temperature. When I did this the curd developed less holes and did not float. I do not know though whether this milk was as badly contaminated as the curd shown here. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Goat Blue

Here is one of the cheeses I wrote about in the previous post after being released from the mould. The cheese had been in the mould for three days and because the room temperature was quite high (75F) some poil de chat developed on the cheese. Some rubbing with salt took care of it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Goat Blue

Last week I made some goat blue. The image above shows the milk. It is clearly much whiter than cows milk, especially this time of year when there is a lot of carotene in cows milk. The spots in the milk is Penicillium roqueforti, the fungus which creates the blue.
I haven't made a blue cheese from goats milk yet, so we will see what happens. I used the same recipe which I use to make this cheese from cows milk. It is based on a recipe I found here. Apart from previous adaptations, I also drained the curds longer because I had to take my son to baseball. After I got back, I milled the curds and put them in the mold. Because longer draining and milling, the cheese will probably have a more open structure.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Milk Test

I have started to do some milk tests while making cheese as suggested by a master cheese maker. These tests are very simple to do and give a good indication of the quality of the raw milk. 
A little milk without starter or rennet is poured into a sterilized test tube. The milk is warmed at 85 to 90 degree F and left at room temperature or near a heat source for 24 hours or more. I don't think it is necessary to keep the milk at the starting temperature for the entire time. In my experience, a curd will form at room temperature as well.
The formed curd will tell a lot about the quality of the milk. Of course, I am not an expert on this test. I just started doing it. I had some problems with some milk and I did not want to send milk to a laboratory for analysis all the time. Needless to say, the better and more homogeneous the formed curd, the better and cleaner the milk. One time, when I removed the rubber stopper from some tubes with milk after the curd had formed, some gas escaped. I clearly noticed a little puff. This was a clear indication of gas forming organisms present in the milk.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


To continue with the Alpine style cheese for another post, this is how the top of the wheel looks like when it comes out of the press. As you can see, the cheese has an edge of curd sticking up. Because the follower on top of the curd is a little smaller than the form, some curd is forced between the follower and the mold while pressing with lots of force. To remove it, I simply cut it with a sharp knife. In Dutch cheese making this is called "randen".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cheesecloth Stuck

Since I had not made an Alpine style cheese for a while, I had forgotten about the cheesecloth sticking to the rind. But when I started to remove the cloth from the cheese I wrote about in the previous post, I was quickly reminded of the cloth sticking to the wheel. It is hard to see, but if you look closely at the top picture, you can see the cloth being in bedded in the curd. This is a result of the enormous pressure this type of cheese needs during the pressure stage. The fact that I use a open woven cheesecloth adds to the problem. When I made some Alpine cheeses a few months ago and I experienced this problem, I vowed to get some other cheesecloth. But I guess, other priorities took a lead. 
You can see in the pictures below, pieces of curd stuck in the cheesecloth and being pulled out of the rind. The rind will end up with small craters. These are feeding grounds for molds and other rind defects. The "skin" of the cheese has been damaged. I will go on a hunt for some different cheesecloth. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Alpine Cheese

It is May, the grass an dandelions are growing and the milk is richer. A good time to try to make an Alpine cheese again. The cows eat grass only and some hay at night. The farmer where I get my Jersey milk from, doesn't feel like chasing cows in the morning. He keeps them in the barn overnight. 
The milk looks definitely more golden than a month ago, although the picture below is exaggerated. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

St. Paulin

This is the St Paulin I made early January. I took it out of the aging cave a week ago and moved it to the fridge. It has quite a coat of corynebacterium. I suspect that the white part on the rind is a yeast. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gassy curd Goat cheeses

The cheese made from the gassy curd on April 30 turned out pretty good after all. There is no sign of gas formation in the cheese and I can't detect any trace of bad taste due to undesirable organisms. In fact, it tastes very good. It is fresh, lemony, a little goaty. It is not too salty and it has a wonderful paste.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blue Cheese

I have been making some blue cheeses lately and here is a recent result. I made this cheese on January 20 from five gallon raw jersey cows milk. It is crumbly creamy and has a aromatic mushroomy natural amber colored rind. The taste is pungent and lemony earthy with a hint of butterscotch.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gassy curd cheeses

So far the result of the gassy curd I wrote about yesterday doesn't look so bad. The picture above shows the cheeses drying after being drained and molded. The cheeses to the right which look like balls I molded by hand. The other ones were molded by the form they were drained in.
The pictures below show the cheeses in the cave after they have been there for a few days. They are starting to grow some fungi. I had inoculated the milk with some Geotricum candidum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gassy Curd

Here is my first attempt of the season to make some goat cheese. Things didn't turn out as hoped for. I had planned to make some lactic acid cheeses.  I haven't made any lactic goat cheeses yet and I was quite excited by the prospect. Over the winter I had experimented with cows milk to make this type of cheese, so I was confident I could make this cheese easily from goats milk as this is more of a tradition.
The other day, I was asked "what is lactic type cheese?" These are cheeses made from a curd that is formed by lactic acid bacteria. Sometimes a small amount of rennet is added, depending on the maker's target. The curd formation takes place over a longer period than rennet coagulated cheeses and at a lower temperature. Depending on the temperature the duration can be longer or shorter. The resulting curd is very fragile due to the high Ph of the curd.
For this batch, I poured five gallon of milk into my vat and warmed it up to about 74F. Perhaps I should have paid more attention, because my target temperature was 70F. I had turned the heat under the vat off at about the target temperature but the thick bottom of the vat always retains enough heat to raise the milk another few degrees. Although I was aware of this, I had not anticipated it this time, so ended up with a higher than desired temperature. I thought it would be alright, the coagulation time would just be shorter. 
When I checked the curd the next morning after about 10 hours, I was in for a surprise. The curd had started to bubble up and looked like some kind of dough. My son asked whether I tried to make bread. I knew a high temperature could lead to a gassy curd, but I had not expected this to happen at 74. Perhaps the milk contained some organisms that exacerbated the process. The milk was a mixture from the last few days of milking. I don't know how old the oldest milk in the mixture was. Next time I'll ask the people I get the milk from. I will also reread "The Fabrication of Farmstead Goat Cheese" by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen. This might give me some fresh new insight.
I did let the curd form until my originally planned time and drained it afterwards to still try to make some cheeses out of it. Although I haven't tasted them yet, so far, after a few days, they seem fine. I will post some photographs of them within the next few days. I also retried this procedure with a small amount of milk from the same mix at a lower temperature. Everything seemed to be going fine. Over the next few months, with lots of goat milk expected, I am sure I will get to the bottom of this.

Goat's Milk

The goats have given birth. Aren't they cute? The supply of goat milk for this season has begun. I picked up the first six gallon this week. I can't wait to make some goat cheese.