Oh so creamy Mascarpone

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%.

I needed two packets for the quantity that I am making.
I needed two packets for the quantity that I am making.

ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon of half and half
  • 1 packet of creme fraiche culture
  • 1/8 tsp calcium chloride

Steps:

  1. 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 ).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the pot and move it to a place it wont be disturbed at room temperature (68-74F).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Coffee Mascarpone Crème I may try to make this if I have any leftover
Coffee Mascarpone Crème I may try to make this if I have any leftover

Chipotle Smoked porter cheddar

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.

Stone brewing's smoked porter
Stone brewing’s smoked porter
Chipotle peppers I had left over after the last Pepito Toscano that I made
Chipotle peppers I had left over after the last Pepito Toscano that I made
Very good consolidation of curds starting.
Very good consolidation of curds starting.

 

Cheddaring the cheddar

After looking over my cheese recipes I realized I had never made one for cheddar.  I am doing some additional things to both of the cheeses I am making today but I will add in the basic recipe and then put notes for the special cheeses down at the bottom of the page as links

  1. Heat three gallons of  milk to 86F.
  2. Then add 1 pack C-101 culture and let set for 45-60 min. This might seem like not enough but if you add more you can get a crumbly cheese from over acidification.
  3. Add 3/4 tsp of single strength rennet. Let set for 45 min at 86F.
  4. Cut curds to 1/4-3/8″
  5. Next stir while slowly raising heat over 30 min to 102F. Maintain at 102F and continue to stir for another 30 min more. Then allow the curds to settle under the whey for 20-30 min.
  6. Pour off whey and curds into a cloth lined colander. Place the colander and curds back into the empty pot and place the pot into a sink of 95-100F water to keep warm. Turn this curd mass at 15 min intervals for 2 hrs (at the 1 hr point cut the mass into 2″ slabs and stack on top each other). This is the CHEDDARING phase (cheddar is a process)
  7. Break or cut the cheddared curds into 1/2-3/4″ pieces
  8. Add  salt (use 2% of the  curd weight in salt in my case about 3 tablespoons ). Add the salt in 3 phases allowing the salt to dissolve between additions. Stir often enough to keep from matting and this salting should take 30 min.
  9. Place cheese curds in cloth lined mold and press at 10 lbs for 15 min unwrap cheese from cloth, turn over, and re-wrap placing back in mold
  10. Press at the schedule below and unwrap, turn cheese and re-wrap between stages
    1. 12 lbs. for 30 min.
    2. 20 lbs. for 1 hr.
    3. 50 lbs. for 4 hrs.
    4. 50 lbs. again for another 24 hrs.

11.  You may either Dry the cheese for 1-3 days and wax or vacuum seal. then age for 3-9 months depending on cheese moisture. The drier the cheese, the longer it can be aged. And the longer it ages the sharper the cheese gets.

Variation

Sage marbled Monteray Jack

After I made the jack with layered sage leaves I was told I needed to add more sage to it.  So this time I am using the sage method for making sage derby cheese and applying it to this batch of jack.  Hopefully it will have a nice marbled green look to it after it ages.  None of my other cheeses have had good marbling yet.  I would have thought the beer ones would but not on the cheddared Caerphilly.  Anyway back to the sage jack. I used the standard recipe for Monterey jack except instead of during the last 30 minute cook at 100 degrees i lowered it to 20 minutes and then drained it for 10 minutes.  After draining I broke the curds up into quarter or smaller sized pieces and then added in the sage mix.

Sage mix from the Sage derby recipe

  • 12 sage leaves (flavor)
  • 12 spinach leaves (color)

rinse and soak the sage leaves for 20 minutes to remove some of the herbal bitterness out of them.

Sage rinsed well in cold water and now soaking in 2 cups of water to remove some of the bitterness
Sage rinsed well in cold water and now soaking in 2 cups of water to remove some of the bitterness

After they have soaked add them to 4 ounces of water and puree them all together.

My mix came out a dark green.  I would have thought it would have been a lighter color color.  Maybe I shouldnt have used baby spinich leaves
My mix came out a dark green. I would have thought it would have been a lighter color. Maybe I shouldnt have used baby spinach leaves
Cheese after the first flip.  Looks like it will have a nice green marble to it.
Cheese after the first flip. Looks like it will have a nice green marble to it.

And now to age it for a month and we will see how the interior marbling looks.  So far the outside looks promising.  I love the strong sage smell that it has.

Colby a true American cheese

Salted curd colby.  Notice all the small eyeholes in the cheese
Salted curd colby. Notice all the small eyeholes in the cheese

One of the only cheeses ever created in the united states is the wonderful Colby cheese.  Unfortunately what you buy in the store is not a true Colby.  Store bought Colby is closer to the taste and flavor of a young cheddar. I found two different recipes that the only difference was that in one the curds were salted, then pressed, and another where the curds are pressed and then brined.  For this first attempt at Colby I will try the salt added to the curds.  Next time I will make it and brine it.  I will add both instructions to the page for anyone who would like to try either recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tsp. Calcium Chloride Liquid (30%) Dissolved in 2 Tbsp. distilled water (if using store-bought milk)
  • 3 ounces prepared Mesophilic Culture.
  • Annetto as per instructions on variety
  • 3/4 Rennet Tablets (microbial) Dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 3 gallon Whole Milk Cow

Cheese making steps:

  1. Add your calcium chloride to your milk. Then gently stir the milk and heat to 86° F.
  2. Remove pot from heat. Sprinkle culture or frozen cube over milk surface and let hydrate for 1 or 2 minutes. Gently and thoroughly stir culture into milk. Let sit for 60 minutes
  3. Add rennet and mix it into milk with an up and down motion for about 1 minute. Let sit for 30-40 minutes for curd to develop.
  4. After you get a clean break cut curd into 3/8 inch pieces. It is okay if they are not perfect cubes. Let the curds heal for 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly heat your curd to 102°F over 30 minutes. Do not let it heat but more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Gently stir every five minutes during the 30 minutes.
  6. Next cover the pot and let the curds set for five minutes.
  7. Pour off the whey until it is level with the curd mass. Stir in cold tap water until the temperature in the cheese pot is lowered to 80°F. Hold the temperature at 80°F for 15 minutes while gently stirring to keep the curd from matting. The temperature of the cheese pot during this step will determine the moisture content of the finished cheese. A slightly higher temperature will produce a drier cheese. Lowering the temperature a few degrees will make a moister cheese.

Draining / Pressing time:

  1. Drain your curds into a cloth line colander taking care to not spill as it fills.  Allow to drain then mix in 3 tablespoons of salt into your curds (if brining please go to the next section on brining and skip adding salt at this point)
  2. Fill you cloth lined cheese mold and put the follower on your mold and press with 20 lbs. for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the cheese and re-wrap and press at 30 lbs. for 20 minutes
  4. Turn and re-wrap one more time and press at 50 lbs for 12 hours

Brining/salting/aging time:

  1. If you are brining the Colby add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 8 hours flipping once.   Keep your brining cheese in the fridge. The standard cheese brine is 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water.  You can also use the whey to make your brine.  It will give a slightly different flavor then using just water.
  2. After pressing and or brining place the salted cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1-3 days. Cover with a clean cheesecloth. Turn the cheese over twice each day. When it starts to form a darker yellowish rind and is dry to the touch, it is ready to wax for storage.
  3. Age at 55° to 60°F (55°F is ideal) for 4-6 weeks.  This cheese is supposed to be eaten with little to no aging.  Any longer then 6 weeks and it will get hard and crumbly.

Update:  my cheese with salt added to the curds has flattened out a bit as it air-dried but still looks tasty.  It reminds me more of an inner tube then a wheel now.

A little history on how Colby was made from the New England cheesemaking website:

Colby cheese was invented in Wisconsin by Joseph F. Steinwand in 1885. It was named for the township in which his father, Ambrose Steinwand, Sr., had built the first cheese factory in Clark County three years before.

“At his father’s cheese factory about one mile south and one mile west of here, Joseph F. Steinwand in 1885 developed a new and unique type of cheese. He named it for the township in which his father, Ambrose Steinwand Sr., had built northern Clark County’s first cheese factory three years before.”

Ambrose and Susan Steinwand and their children moved to Colby in 1875. They bought a quarter-section of railroad land in Colby township and in 1882 built a cheese factory, a small wood building that produced 125 pounds of cheese a day.
Their eldest son, Joseph, assisted his father in the factory from age 16, quickly learning the cheese making process. Joe Steinwand was inquisitive, and when his father sent him to a cheese making course in Madison, he began to experiment in the Colby factory.
He made minor changes in the cheese process, but these were enough to create a cheese both milder and moister than cheddar. The new cheese was named “Colby” and became almost instantly popular.

Buttermilk and buttermilk cheese

Buttermilk is almost to easy to make.  If you use buttermilk a lot in cooking then making your own can save you a little money. The process to make sour cream is the same as buttermilk with the same bacteria culture used.  The only difference is that instead of milk you use cream.

Ingredients:

  • Buttermilk culture (you can use store-bought buttermilk as long as it has live cultures in it)
  • 1 gallon whole milk for butter milk or cream for sour cream

Heat the milk for buttermilk or cream for sour cream to 185 degrees, and hold for 45 minutes. (For added body you can add 1/2 cup of non-fat powdered milk before heating). If you can, please do this in a double boiler.  It is extremely easy to scorch the bottom of the pan.  I have done it more than once when I first started making cheeses

Cool the milk or cream down to 77 degrees and add 1/8 tsp. of culture to it.  If you add the culture before it hits 77 you will cook your bacteria.  Stir gently until dissolved. If you are using store-bought buttermilk with a live culture use ¼ of a cup

It is recommended to hold at 74-77 degrees for a minimum 16 to 18 hours. But I use normal room temperature of 72 degrees for it to incubate (love that word, reminds me of the movie Aliens) At room temperature it takes it about 20 hours to thicken up and be ready.  When it is done refrigerate and use as you like

If you like to make Labneh (yogurt cheese) then you can make a similar cheese from butter milk.  Line a colander with a large, sterilized handkerchief and pour your buttermilk into it.  Then tie the corners together and let it hang to drain out all the whey for around 12 hours.  After it is drained scoop into a sealed container and use as you would cream cheese.  The flavor you get from this is amazing on a bagel sandwich.

The joy of making Romano

Romano is good cheese to make if you are looking for a step up in difficulty in your cheese making.  Not to say that it is a hard cheese to make it is still not difficult to make.  The major change is that you will be switching from the lower temp Mesophilic bacteria to the higher temp Thermophilic.

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons 2% milk (in the Willamette valley the best kind is from Lochmead farms aka Dari-mart)
  • 6 ounces Heavy cream
  • 1 packet direct-set thermophilic starter
  • ¼ teaspoon lipase powder (gives it the flavor of goats milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/2 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • non-iodized salt for brining

If you do not have a local brew store that has cheese supplies you can get them online at the New England Cheesemaking supply company  they also have a good selection of other cheese making recipes and kits that you can buy.

Steps to make your cheese

  1. If you are using lipase add it into your milk now.  You can leave it out but it tastes much better with it included. For best flavor from the lipase add it to the water and let dissolve for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Gradually heat your milk to 88 degrees in a double boiler or a water bath.  If you set it directly on a stove top you risk the chance of heating it unevenly and scorching the bottom.
  3. Once the milk is to temperature sprinkle the thermophilic starter over the top of the milk.  Let it re-hydrate for 5 minutes before you stir.  Then stir for several minutes.  Cover and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.  To keep the heat in, you can cover the pot with a kitchen towel while you wait.  The starter will multiply and divide and acidify the milk slightly during this stage
  4. Add in your calcium chloride.  Since we are using store bought milk this will allow the curds to form.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh un-pasteurized milk you do not need to add any.
  5. Make sure you milk is still near 88 degrees.  If not heat it for a short time to bring the temp back up.  Now add your rennet to the milk and stir in an up and down motion.  No making whirlpools in the milk.  Then let sit and let the curd form for 60 minutes. If you don’t get a clean break after 60 minutes let it sit and check every 15 minutes for it. A clean break means that the curds will hold their shape after you cut them.  If you do not know what this looks like there are several videos on youtube that give a great guide to telling you when they are at the right spot.  As with most things the more you do it the better you will be at seeing the correct curd formation.                                        2012-12-29_14-32-10_280
  6. Once your curd show a clean break cut into ¼ inch cubes.  You can use a knife or a stainless steel whisk.  I prefer a whisk since all you need is tiny curds for Romano.
  7. Now comes the tricky part of making Romano.  You need to heat your curds up to 116 degrees over 45 minutes.  For the first 30 minutes raise it 2 degrees every 5 minutes.  When you get to 100 degrees you want to start raising it 1 degree a minute for 15 minutes.  This is the time that you don’t leave your cheese while you are making it.  If you do there is a good chance of getting off temperature very easily and changing the flavor of your cheese.
  8. When you hit 116 degrees turn off the heat and keep at this temp for 30 minutes.  Stir every 5 minutes or so. Your curds will be very small at the end of this time.  Small curds make a nice hard compact cheese.
  9. Now you can drain off the whey and separate out your curds.  I use a cloth lined colander to get as much whey out as I can.  There is no reason to pour the whey down the drain.  Whey can be used in place of buttermilk in any recipe, or you can feed it to acid loving plants like blueberries and roses. And my favorite use.  Feeding it as a treat to my puppy is my favorite use of it.
  10. Line a 2 pound mold with cheese cloth and scoop your curds into it. (your mold and liner should be ready before you finish heating your curds.  Cap and press with 5 pounds for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove the cheese from the mold re-wrap and flip then press at 10 pounds for 30 minutes
  12. Re-wrap and flip and press at 20 pounds for 2 hours
  13. Re-wrap and flip and press at 40 pounds for 12 hours
  14. Add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 12 hours flipping once.   Keep your brining cheese in the fridge. The standard cheese brine is 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water.  You can also use the whey to make your brine.  It will give a slightly different flavor then using just water.  I prefer to use the whey mostly because I hate wasting any part of the milk.
  15. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.  Then place on your drying mat and let it dry for 2-3 days or until it is dry to the touch.  Then move it to your cheese fridge and allow it to form a rind while it ages. Turn it over frequently and check for mold often.  If you see any mold form on the outside of your cheese just take a cloth and dip in vinegar and wipe it off.  The molds that grow on cheese are easily killed and won’t harm you even if you eat them.  For all of my cheese aging I use a wine fridge with the rack pulled out. It makes it easier to keep the temp at the right spot.
  16. At two months take a couple teaspoons of olive oil and wipe it over the rind of your cheese. This will prevent your cheese from drying out too much.  Then continue to age for another 3-10 months.

2012-12-29_14-29-40_171

History of Pecorino Romano cheese:

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made out of sheep milk (the Italian word pecora, from which the name derives, means sheep). Pecorino Romano was produced in Latium up to 1884 when, due to the prohibition issued by the city council of salting the cheese inside their shops in Rome, many producers moved to the island of Sardinia.[1] It is produced exclusively from the milk of sheep raised on the plains of Lazio and in Sardinia. Most of the cheese is now produced on the island, especially in Gavoi.

Pecorino Romano was a staple in the diet for the legionaries of ancient Rome. Today, it is still made according to the original recipe and is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses.  Production was first described by Latin authors like Varro and Pliny the Elder about 2,000 years ago. It was first created in the countryside around Rome. Pecorino Romano cheese is used mostly in Central and Southern Italy.