Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Designer Cheese

My cheesemaking activities have expanded enough to make me think a separate blog would make sense, so here we are.

So... "Designer Cheese"?

So far I've read several sites and books, tried some recipes and generally experimented with turning milk into other things, and so far none of them have been disasters. But I'm not really a recipes sort of person. I like to either know the whys and wheres and to do things by instinct.

Currently my "usual" recipe is something like this:
  1. Bring milk to 86F in a makeshift double boiler.
  2. Stir in yoghurt as a thermophilic starter culture and some chopped up camembert rind for P. Candidum and P.Camemberti cultures.
  3. Wait fifteen minutes.
  4. Add liquid rennet.
  5. Keep at 86-88F for three hours.
  6. Cut curds.
  7. Fill brie mould.
  8. Drain overnight, then flip as I remember for a few days.
  9. When dryish, rub salt in, dry some more, and eventually put in the fridge to age.
This seems to have worked so far (early days but we've eaten one cheese and have another looking very promising in the fridge). But what happens if I vary the temperatures or timings? What about cooking the curds (for hard cheeses) and different pressing weights? Some recipes are very specific about details (hold between 86F and 88F for three hours) where others for similar cheeses say, for example, 90F for one hour.

I don't really have the scope for empirical assessment of all the variables but I hope to try a few things and hopefully turn up information from other sources and even, hopefully, get other people contributing knowledge. Ideally what I want to end up with is a list of the stages in cheesemaking and for each one be able to say "if you make it hotter, it's stronger/blander/firmer/softer/greener/ruined." From there you could imagine the cheese you want to make and work out roughly what the recipe to make it is likely to be. Designer Cheese.

In practice I'm sure it's not quite as simple as the picture above makes it out to be, but there's certainly scope for finding a bit more out.