For February, the cheesepalooza challenge was either Gouda or Havarti – both great cheeses but we chose the Gouda, since one of Js favourite cheeses is Prima Donna Maturo which is made in a similar style. It is also the style of cheese of Babybel and for an interesting look at how it is made check this out Unwrapped Mini Babybel – similar process just larger scale and much smaller molds!
As with all the challenges we used the the recipe for Gouda from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. We almost doubled this recipe and used 14 l of Vital Greens un homogenized whole milk, as 14l is all we could fit in our cheese vat (aka the turkey roaster).We assembled all of our ingredients and sterilized all the equipment that we would need.
All the milk was added to the vat, making for a very full vat! It took about 45 minutes for the milk to come up to temperature for adding the culture, which was Meso II mesophilic starter. We let the milk ripen for about 45 minutes – the turkey roaster is working great as it kept the temperature fairly constant at 86 d F. Following the ripening the calcium chloride was added, followed by the rennet.
We had a nice clean break and cut the curd into 1/2 inch pieces and let it sit for 5 minutes.As with the progression each month in cheesepalooza, this month we had a new technique – washed curd. In washed curd cheese, warm/hot water is added (with some whey removed) and then some stirring and resting of the curds. This process reduces the lactic acid in the cheese, which will make it less acidic.
The following photo shows the curds exposed after the first addition of 140 d F water, which brought the temperature up to 92 d F. We then added additional water to bring it up to 98 d F, which was only a couple of extra cups.These curds were then stirred gently for about 20 minutes.After the stirring they were left to rest and settle to the bottom of the pot. The curds were then scooped out and placed in a warm colander lined with damp cheese cloth, and allowed to drain.After draining, the curd was then torn into 1 inch pieces and placed in our 8 inch tome mold, that was lined with damp cheese cloth. While adding the curd pieces they were pressed down to keep it it nice and even. The mold was then placed in my newly made cheese press, with about 15 pounds on top. I thought I had found the greatest “rack” for pressing the cheese on at Ikea, but I need to figure out a better way of catching the whey – I am glad I placed an old bathmat underneath, which caught all the whey overflow. I think the best method would be having some sort of tray or baking dish underneath to catch the whey.
After about 1 hour, the cheese was popped out and flipped. and rewrapped. At this point the wheel weighed 4 lb 4 oz. It was then pressed overnight for about 14.5 hours, after which it weighed 3 lb 15 oz.I must say that is a nice looking cheese! It was then placed in medium heavy brine (20%) for 13.5 hours.Following the brining the cheese was air dried for 2 days, at the end of which it weighed in at 3 lb 8 oz. After the air drying it was placed in the cave for aging. After 12 days we took it out and sliced it in half prior to waxing. It is looking very nice with a nice fresh aroma.We then applied the cream wax, and let it dry prior to applying the hard wax. The following photo shows the cheese with the cream wax.About 1 week later, we had time to apply the hard wax. This was actually very straightforward. Make sure you have a container large enough to dip the cheese in the wax. We used an old baine marie we were going to get rid off. The wax comes in slabs about 1/2″ thick, we broke these up to melt over a pot of water.
We now have two 1/4 wheels for consuming young, the first at the cheesepalooza tasting, the second a couple of weeks later. The half wheel we we will age for a few more months, hopefully until Js birthday in December.
As soon as we taste we will add our tasting notes.