Friday, January 23, 2009

Unknown cheese

I have been going through my binder, trying to find the notes which go with this batch. It is becoming really confusing with all these small batches of lactic type cheeses to match the proper notes to the batch. I should come up with a better system.
But I think I have found them for this batch.  Clearly made on December 7, the pictures show the cheeses in various stages of development.  Although my notes say that I inoculated the milk with Penicillium candidum, a wild blue mold is trying to get the upper hand. This makes me suspect that I might not have used P. candidum. I have another sheet with notes from a batch made on the same day. These notes do not mention the use of P. candidum. It was from a batch made after a recipe in the St. Marcellin style. Perhaps it was that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


These tommes are from a batch made on December 7. The right wheel I have been washing, the left wheel I have let gone wild. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

St. Marcellin

The St. Marcellin I wrote about yesterday have been aged in a refrigerator set at 50F and 90% relative humidity. The cheeses here are from the same December 14 batch but are aging in the cave. The temperature in the cave is about 52F and the relative humidity around 95%. The Penicillium candidum on the cheeses shown here is clearly less furry than the cheeses ripened in the refrigerator and they feel harder when touched than the cheeses in the fridge. I am curious what the difference in taste and texture will be.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

St. Marcellin

A few weeks ago I made a batch of cheeses in the style of St. Marcellin. In the photos here they are three weeks. The taste is mild with earthy tones of grass and mushrooms. The rind is thin and fragile, with a soft paste just underneath. The center is firm yet creamy. It melts in mouth.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cheese books

The other day someone mentioned that I probably have quite a few books related to cheese by now. Indeed, since I started making cheese last March, I have acquired quite a selection. The first one was Ricki Carrol's book on home cheese making, which I borrowed from a friend and have yet to return. I made a few cheeses using her recipes but I soon felt very limited with the information in this book. I searched the NY public library and came across Paul Kindsted's book "American Farmstead Cheese". Although it does not give any recipes, it is a great source with an abundance of information about all aspects of farmstead cheesemaking. A must have.
It took me a while to acquire Kosokowski's "Cheese and Fermented Milk Foods", by many referred to as the cheese bible. It was repeatedly referenced in the Kindstedt book, but it is rather pricey. But eventually, my urge for knowlegde about cheesemaking prevailed and I ordered it. Another pricey book in the stack is "Cheesemaking Practice" by R. Scott, R.K. Robinson an R.A. Wilbey. Rather dry but with some practical procedures in the back.
Since I started making goat cheese last fall, "The Fabrication of Farmstead Goat Cheese" by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen and "Goat Cheese" by the Mont-Laurier Benedictine Nuns were must haves and soon purchased. Especially the book by Le Jaouen has been very helpful.
Possibly the two publications I use the most are Margaret Morris "The Cheesemaker's Manual" and "Farmstead Cheesemaking Collection" by Peter H. Dixon. Margaret Morris's book describes a lot of cultures, moulds, yeasts and other ripening ingredients. It also describes the cheecemaking process step by step very clearly and has a lot of handy tips and a troubleshooting guide. Towards the end it gives recipes for both the home cheesemaker as well as the commercial producer.
Peter Dixon, a master artisanal cheesemaker in Vermont, published these newsletters a few years ago. They are full of useful and very practical information about all aspects of artisanal cheesemaking. It has quite a bit of information on cheese ripening, cultures, caves, and a good article on washed rind cheese affinage. I go back to it over and over again.
Besides books about cheese with just practical and technical information, I have also found that books describing various cheeses are very helpful in the pursue of a good cheese. Without a doubt Patrick Rance's "The French Cheese" is the standard classic among these books. It is sometimes hard to find for a reasonable price. I did find a copy on Abebooks of both the French cheese book as well as "The Great British Cheese Book" at the same bookseller a while ago. It is a wonderful read which takes one through the world of French cheeses.
"The Complete Encyclopedia of Frenc Cheese" by Pierre Androuet is a handy book just to look up a cheese quickly. It describes the cheeses plainly without any pictures. The same is true for "Cheese primer" by Steven Jenkins although this book is not limited to French cheeses.
For a more colorful guide to the french cheese, I think "French Cheese" by Kazuki Masui and Tomoko Yamada is an excellent book. It even has some procedures for some cheeses which could be helpfull in the making of a particular cheese.
Some other books on the stack related to cheese are "The Altas of American Artisan Cheese" by Jeffrey P. Roberts, a reference book to numerous Artisanal Cheesemakers in America, and "The Untold Story of Milk" by Ron Schmid. The last book has convinced me that raw milk is worth traveling the extra miles for.

St. Nectaire

Here is an attempt to make a St. Nectaire style cheese after a procedural description in "The French Cheese Book" by Patrick Rance in combination with some information taken from "French Cheeses" by Masui and Yamada.
I used 10 gallon of raw Jersey milk and inoculated the milk with half a teaspoon of MM100 and one eight of a teaspoon Geotricum candidum 17 after which I heated the milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I added 7.5 ml rennet half an hour later and let the curd set in about 55 minutes.
I cut the curd into mais size particles and let it rest for five minutes.
Keeping the temperature of the curd at 90F, I firmed up the grains by stiring for 45 minutes. I drained most of the whey, pressed the curd in the vat, cut the curd mat into 2 inch cubes and transferred these cubes to open ended moulds lined with cheesecloth. I pressed the curd down by hand, gently at first, gradually more firmly.
I pressed the curds for 10 minutes at each side before taking them out of the moulds for salting. I dry salted each face with 1% of the cheese weight and put them back in the hoops to be pressed for 12 hours before turning and pressing for another 12.
After this the cheeses are dried for a day or two before moving them to the cave for ripening.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lactic cheese

Just some recent lactic style cheeses of different age and recipe aging in a refrigerator.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fresh Chaource

A little fresh Chaource style cheese.

Swollen Gouda

This is the Gouda I made on December 6 and wrote about here. It is obviously swelling up due to gas formed by the Clostridium tyrobutyricum bacteria. I started to see the first signs about two weeks ago and now one of the cheeses is even showing cracks.
Apparently there is a product on the market called Holdbac, which has proven to inhibit growth of undesired microoganisms. It is said to have a positive effect on cheese flavour and texture. Thus it can be used instead of saltpeter which is known to prevent cheese blowing. I spoke to a well respected cheese maker and supplier recently who suspected that the Dutch use saltpeter in great quantities in their Goudas and Edams. They feed the cows a lot of silage, the main cause of the gas forming bacteria. I remember it well. Growing up, all over the Dutch countryside were these heaps of fermenting grass, covered with black plastic weight down by old tires.
In most parts of Switzerland and France it is forbidden to feed the cows on silage to produce an AOC cheese.