Monday, 31 August 2009

More camembries

On Saturday I started off a new batch of camembries using virtually the same procedure as always: 11 pints of milk (the twelfth becoming yoghurt), a tablespoon or so of yoghurt, a tablespoon of bried, 21 drops of rennet, three hours to clabber and then the change: I didn't cut the curd but ladled it in large chunks into the moulds. The first one leaked quite badly after a while perhaps because it got the first of the curd but more likely because it was just loaded too quickly. Perhaps next time I'll half fill them all then wait for them to settle a little before adding more.

After the three camembert moulds were filled the remaining curd was put into a pair of basket moulds and a draining bag. One has been imersed in brine (it's a bit soft but I thought I'd see what happened) and the other was mashed with black pepper and garlic, as was the bag cheese.

The camembries were flipped the next day, twice, and again today, are now almost firm enough for me to remove the moulds.

As an aside, this time the yoghurt was put in a thermos flask instead of a tub on a heater. It seemed to work quite well.

No photos so far because it all looks the same as previous batches.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Hard Cheese Update

After 20 days of drying, turning, and occasionally scraping and dabbing mould with vinegar and salt, I've now oiled the cheese and wrapped it in paper.

It feels heavy and firm but not rock-hard and it's awfully tempting to try it. Really though it needs at least another two weeks and preferably a month or two.

Perhaps next weekend I'll get some soft or brined cheese on the go again to tide us over.

Monday, 3 August 2009

A quick shot this morning of the hard cheese started yesterday. For scale, this is a camembert sort of sized block but about twice as deep, and quite dense. I have to figure out what I'm going to do about sealing it or allowing a rind to form. Wax seems to be the usual option but I haven't got any and I'm also short of equipment for that. I might go for a parmesan style oil coating. We'll see.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Failed camembrie and First Hard Cheese

This is a bit of a mixed post. We tried the latest batch of camembries a while ago and I didn't have the heart to post an update at the time. They were vile. Very sharp and one-dimensional. They looked great but they didn't taste it. I'll pick over my notes and try to figure out why a bit later but to some extent I think that dealing with sensitive micro-organisms on a home scale with only very basic testing and environmental control I'm just likely to have the occasional bad batch. I do remember the curd tasting funny (sharp and almost lemony) when I tried some fresh, but I don't really know what caused it. It does point towards something more fundamental than bad maturation though. Perhaps the milk wasn't right. Perhaps I dropped a lemon in by mistake.

Anyway, on a slightly more positive note a friend bought me a Dutch Press for my birthday and so today I've attempted my first hard cheese. A fascinating process! Quite different to what I've done before and the heating and -- relative to soft cheese -- rough treatment of the curd felt all wrong. Still, the results I've ended up with so far seem perfect according to my recipe and I'm currently pressing what I suppose must be in the region of 1lb of cheese.

From the usual 12 pints of milk I got my pint of yoghurt, the Main Feature hard cheese as mentioned above, a small quantity of ricotta, and some left over hard cheese curds which I mixed with half a clove of garlic and some black pepper to make a boursin-style cheese.

The main different with the hard cheese recipe has been that the curds are cut, stirred, drained and then mixed gently by hand with salt before keeping warm and repeatedly breaking up for an hour or so. Finally this mixture is wrapped in cheese cloth and pressed gradually at first and more firmly later in the press. There is much more separation of curd and whey before the cheese enters the mold and so even under pressure the contents of a normal camembert size mould (10x10x10) has not greatly diminished in the first hour or two. Maybe by 10-20%. Contrast this with camembries which lose half their volume in the space of a few hours and express buckets (literally) of whey.

One other thing that I've been wondering, looking at this recipe and others for soft cheeses, is whether I shouldn't be cutting the curd for soft cheeses and instead scooping large chunks of it out whole. The results have been good but messy as much curd has squeezed through the holes in the moulds. One to investigate next time.