Every Christmas I make a different long aging cheese for the following Christmas. Last year it was a nice Romano cheese that came out delicious. This year I went for a traditional bandage wrapped cheddar.
Wrapping a cheese in bandages is actually an easy process.
You first need to cut three pieces of linen to the shape of your cheese. two for top and bottom and a narrow strip for the edges.
The next part is a bit messy so use some newspaper or tinfoil to put underneath your cheese.
Next you will need some type of rendered fat to coat the cheese and soak the bandages in. From what I have seen from reading around is that the most common used fats are lard, tallow, and bacon fat. A cheese aged in bacon fat sounds tasty but I would worry about any nitrates in the bacon inhibiting the mold growth on the aging. I have also read that people are starting to use coconut oil as the fat used. I might have to try that at some point to see if there is a flavor difference. For this cheese I used lard to coat it.
Slowly melt down the fat you are using until it is liquid. If you have it in a jar you can soak it in a hot water bath to melt it down.
use your hands and rub a thin layer of fat over the entire cheese. Then dip the bandages in the fat and squeeze out the extra.
Next smooth the cloth over the cheese. It is best to do the top and bottom pieces and then do the bandage over the sides. You want to make sure the cloth adheres and there is no air underneath the cloth.
You can put the top and bottom on the cheese and put it back into the cheese mold and press the cloth into the cheese if you would like. I tried this and had a had time getting the cheese back out after the lard cooled and started hardening.
After the bandaging is done you can put a printed address label with data and type of cheese on the bandage. A thin coating of lard over the top will keep it in place.
Now into the fridge and flip daily for 2-3 weeks. At that point mold should start appearing on the bandage. Then you can switch to flipping 2-3 times a week.
Pat or brush down the mold to keep it from getting out of control. The mold will grow and feed off of the fat on the bandages instead of on the cheese.
After a few months as the cheese dries out the mold should die back and you will have a nice marbled looking bandage that you can age for a year or longer.
As the cheese molds out more I will add some moldy cheese pictures to the blog
My last attempt at a blue cheese did not turn out blue at all (blue Gouda) So now I am going to try for a Blue Caerphilly. I think I have done more experimental cheeses using Caerphilly then any other type of cheese. It lends itself to blending well with flavors and it ages quickly. In other words I don’t have to wait a year to eat it to see how the experiment goes. I am going to use a different variation then my normal Caerphilly recipe. This one will be from Gavin Webber’s book “Keep calm and make cheese” This is a great book for the beginning cheese maker. Gavin also has a cheese blog that has good tips and different cheese making variation. There are only a few differences in the Caerphilly recipe. The cook temperature for the curds is at 92F instead of 95F and the cheese is salted instead of brined. I have used this recipe before to great success. It will be less salty than the brined variety and have a sharper taste at the end of the aging time. On one of his blogs he had half a wheel of Caerphilly that was infected by blue by accident and had it change to a great flavor so I am going to try that intentionally on mine.
Penicillium roqueforti was added at the same time as the culture. I am not sure if this is a good time to add but it sounded good.
This cheese is for a special request for a friend. Pepper jack made using ghost peppers and Habanero infused salt. This cheese may need to have a warning on the package when opening. What is a ghost pepper you ask? for several years this pepper was rated as the hottest pepper in the world. It is rated as 400 times hotter the Tabasco sauce. I have a package of dried ones to use for this cheese. Only 2 peppers will be used. I like how the package warns that you need to use gloves to touch the peppers and prepare them. The is no chance that i would ever make this without gloves. I have sliced up spicy peppers without gloves before then rubbed my eyes, ugh it was not an experience I ever want to repeat.
Cheese curds were a little spicy when I put them into the mold to press, but not to bad. As it ages I am sure the heat will migrate out into the cheese.
This is a cheese I have wanted to make for a while now but didn’t have the multiple days free to be able to make it. Every book I have looked at has a different recipe version so I am going to do one with the recipe from Ricki Carroll’s website. It is a not as detailed of a recipe as I would like so we will see how this one goes. I have added to it what I can from the other recipe I have for it. Hopefully the draining and pressing additions will bring the cheese together into a delicious morsel for next Christmas. Yes I am really going to let this one age an entire year. It will be hard to resist eating it. Before we start on the creation, a little background on what Cantal cheese really is.
Cantal AOC is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating to the times of the Gaul’s rule. It received an Appellation d’Origine (AOC) status from the administrative region of Cantal in the Auvergne region in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.There are three types of Cantal cheese, grouped according to age and texture. Cantal jeune, a young cheese is aged at 30 to 60 days during when it develops a thin gray-ivory crust and a smooth, pale yellow, close-textured paste. It is fresh, sweet, milky in flavor with a light hint of hazelnut, and vanilla. Cantal Entre-deux, an aged Cantal has the flavors of the green pastures and aromas of butter and cream. From 3 months of ripening, Cantal cheese starts to come into its own. A well-aged Cantal Vieux has a thick crust and is a cheese connoisseur’s delight. Due to the lengthy ripening period, the cheese has become more strongly flavored and is a typical hard cheese with a firm, brittle and crumbly paste. The 8-month stay inside the cellars let Cantal develop a peppery and spicy aroma. The cheese is additionally grouped as “fremier” and “laitier”, wherein fermier is a farmhouse cheese made of raw milk while laitier is the commercial, mass-produced version from pasteurized milk. Cantal works well with nuts, grapes and apples as well can be used in salads, soups, cheese fondue or gratins. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are a few wines that pair nicely with Cantal.
Now on to our steps and ingredients on how to make this cheese
3 gallons whole milk
3/4 tsp calcium chloride
2 cubes frozen mesophillic culture
3/4 tablet of microbial rennet
Cheese making steps:
Heat up milk to 90F and add mesophillic culture. Let ripen for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes add your rennet and let sit for 60 minutes to coagulate
once you get a clean break in the curd cut into 1/2″ sized curds and stir for 20-30 minutes after you finish stirring allow the curds to settle
Drain the whey down to within 1-2″ above the curd. Then place a plate over the curd and add 20-25lbs of weight on top of the plate (keep it around 90F while doing this)
Leave the weight on for 30 minutes and then drain the curds and wrap them in cloth
Move the cloth wrapped cheese to a draining spot and reapply the weight.
At 30 min intervals the curd is unwrapped and cut into 2″ strips and turned over .. re-wrapped in cloth and the weight reapplied … this cycle is repeated 3-6 times w/ increasing weight to get a cheese of appropriate dryness. I did six flips on this cheese. I noticed if I broke up the cheese into big chunks and then pressed it I got a better drain then if I just sliced it and let it drain. This step reminds me a lot of cheddaring but for a much longer period of time and with weights.
The curd should be kept at 80F-90F during this period. I am setting the draining pan on top of a heating pad to keep it warm during the draining.
The curd mass then is broken in to 3-4 inch blocks and left to ripen overnight.
The curd mass is then broken into small pieces as per cheddar (3/4-1 or walnut size as I like to call it)
Salt the Cheese at 1.8-2.5% by weight. Close to 3 tablespoons will be what you need.
The curd can now goes into a cloth lined mold and weight added 25 lbs at first. This is where the details are a bit vague as the instructions call for turning it 3-5 times and increasing the weight to a final press weight of 250-300 lbs. So I will set it for 25 for 20 minutes, 50 for 40 minutes, 100 for 2 hours, 200 for 12 hours, and 300 for 24 hours. This makes me glad I have a dutch press that can handle that much pressure. I have used this much for cheddar before. It creaks a lot though with that much pressure on it.
Allow to ripen for 3- 9 months at 54F and 80-85% RH%. This cheese can be aged longer if you can wait. I make a cheese every December and then open it up the following year for Christmas. This will be next years Christmas cheese so it will be aged a little over 12 months.
The cheese is supposed to ripen and form a natural rind with a gray mold forming. Just wipe with a brine mix until the mold forms a nice gray covering and drys out.
This is a very easy cheese to make. I rarely have made Mascarpone mainly just for the reason it is so high in fat and I will eat it all. Mascarpone can be used to dip fruit into, add some creaminess to pasta dishes, and the main reason I am making some is to make some Tiramisu for thanksgiving dessert. Mascarpone is a triple-creme cheese made from fresh cream. Traditionally, this was made from the fresh milk of cows that have grazing pastures filled with fresh herbs and flowers. The freshest milk is still the best for this but a great Mascarpone can also be easily made with cream from the store which is what I will be doing. There are two ways that it can be made. One method is that a small amount of tartaric acid is blended in water and added to the cream heated to 180F (simaler to the way queso blanco is made. It is a quick way to make it if you are in a hurry but not nearly as smooth in texture as if you use a bacterial culture to curd it. I will be using a culture to make mine this time. Normally Marscapone has a fat content of around 20%. I am going to use some half and half to make this batch which will drop the fat down to the around 15%.
1/2 gallon of half and half
1 packet of creme fraiche culture
1/8 tsp calcium chloride
In a sanitized pot add the milk/cream combo and then add 1/8 tsp of calcium chloride to help set a firm curd since this is a pasteurized and cold stored milk (not needed if using a fresh cream ).
Slowly heat to 86F. This can be done directly on the stove since this is a low slow heat you wont need a double boiler to do this.
When the cream is heated up remove it from the heat, and open the packet of Creme Fraiche culture. Sprinkle this culture over the cream surface to rehydrate. After 1 minute stir into the milk. There is a small bit of rennet in it to help form the curd.
Cover the pot and move it to a place it wont be disturbed at room temperature (68-74F).
Let it sit for 10-12 hours (less time for warmer temp and more for a cooler one). Do not disturb the pot while setting. It is fine for the milk/cream temperature to drop to room temperature during this period.
When the curd has firmed, you will see a definite thickening of the milk and perhaps some clear drops or pools of whey on the surface.
The curd will not be thick enough to cut but you will need to ladle it into a cloth lined colander to drain for 1-2 hours. if you let it drain for 12 hrs it will be more of a whipped cream cheese texture. But traditionally it only needs 2 hours at most.
Store in the fridge and use within 7-10 days.
Like I said it is very easy to make. It will make me a delicious tiramisu.
At the request of several ladies in the Dermatology department, I am trying something different with the Colby. All of them love the Colby and decided this would make it taste even better. I have never actually caramelized onions before so this is something new for me also.
how to caramelize onions:
Normally you add butter or olive oil to it while cooking but I have found with trying to add pesto to cheese that if you have any oil in your ingredient you will not have the curds knit together. So no oil in these.
Slice and dice your onions and saute them on medium until they start to soften. (about 5 minutes)
Now add 2 tsp of sugar to sweeten them up and cook for another 20 minutes.
Now you have a nice batch of caramelized onions.
After cooking the onions up I now have to let them sit and cool while I finished the cheese. I am just using my normal Colby recipe, but I have left out the yellow coloring. No more fake coloring for my cheeses. Even the ones that are traditionally colored. So today is the first white Colby that I have made. One thing I have noticed in the past while making Colby is that my tap water is not cold enough to get the curds down to 80F. So this time I took 2 gallons of water and chilled them down so I can get the temp down to where I need it to be. I have noticed if you don’t get the temperature down low enough that the cheese is very soft and tends to flatten after it is removed from the mold. Even though it tastes great it looks kind of odd when you quarter out the wheel. Almost like a pan pizza slice. The onions were put in four layer into the cheese. Hopefully the ladies that asked for the cheese will like it. We will be eating one-quarter on thanksgiving so I will be able to update with a tasting update in a couple of weeks.
My second cheddar of the day will be a standard cheddar soaked in a smoked porter from Stone brewing company. And then the curds will be rolled in chipotle peppers before pressing. I thought about using hops for this cheese also but I let Danny the beer master of Broken Oak brewing convince me to use the peppers instead. I have made many different peppered cheeses before but this will be the first one that also uses beer as a flavoring. I am hoping that the smoked peppers mix well with the smoked porter.
It seems like I have been working on doing a lot of cheeses lately that are inspired by cheeses from Rogue Creamery. This one is inspired by a cheese they make called hopland cheddar. The cheese is soaked in a rogue IPA and then has hop petals mixed in right before they press the cheese. For mine I am using an IPA from Broken Oak brewing (soon to be up and brewing large amounts of beer hopefully). And I am mixing in some hops from a variety called Chinook (guide to hops varieties). This cheese will age a minimum of 3 months or longer depending on how well I can resist eating it. The method starts out as a standard cheddar. But after you finish the cheddaring process and break the curds up you then need to soak the curds in the IPA for 30 more minutes while keeping it at the 95F-100F. Then mix in the salt and the hops petals in before pressing. This is a first try for this type of cheese so we will see how it tastes in 3 months.
On our trip to Bandon for Staci’s birthday I was able to squeeze in a trip to the newly opened cheese factory that is at the site of the original Bandon cheese factory that was bought out by Tillamook cheese factory years ago. My grandparents used to take my sister and I to the original one for cheese curds. Ahhh the memories of tasty cheddar curds.
There are several varieties of cheese that they make that is available with samples to try before you purchase
Grand Opening Cheddar
“In Your Face” Spicy 3-Pepper Cheddar
Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar
“Face Rockn’ Jack” Pepper Jack,
“Black Jack” Monterey Jack with black olives and garlic
Fromage Blanc in various flavors
All three varieties of cheddar are also available as curds. I picked up a bag of the 3-pepper and a bag of the garlic cheddar. Both were delicious. It is a great place to explore and taste test. If you are in the area i recommend stopping to taste. Their web site has a lot of information on the history of cheesemaking in the area
After making a double batch of Caerphilly I had enough curds left over for a small 1 pound round that I could use for another experimental cheese. This one will be a whiskey soaked Caerphilly then aged for at least three months. It would probably be better aged out to a sharp cheese, but I would like to have this ready to taste test by Christmas time.