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.