I can’t believe we are almost at the halfway mark for cheesepalooza! Even though the cheeses have been interesting and some challenging, we now bring another element – time, which impacts any desire of instant gratification (instant is relative in cheese making and so far 5 days is the longest we had to wait) and also less controllable. As well these recipes a lot more milk!
December has us making aged semi-firm cheese, with a choice of Welsh Caerphilly or Farmhouse Cheddar. We chose the Caerphilly.
As always we dutifully read the recipe and headed off to get the milk. We were going to use a recipe provided by Ian at Much To Do About Cheese that called for 16 liters of milk! That is a lot of milk, plus with some additional goat milk I purchased for some chèvre and cream for butter I had some inquisitive looks. We also used Vital Greens whole non-homogenized milk.
In assembling and sterilizing all my tools I discovered that my largest pot was only 12 quarts! What was I to do? Well, I improvised (a useful skill in cheese making I have found) so we ended up making the Caerphilly using the amounts in Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making at Home but Ian’s method.
As usual the milk was heated, cultures added left to ripen for a bit, followed by some calcium chloride and the rennet, then allowed to set. Since at this point I had not picked up an electric turkey roaster (I have one now though) to use as my cheese vat, I thought I would use the sink since it held more water than the other pan I used previously, and hopefully keep the temperature more consistent.
It was then pressed for about 30 minutes with about 10 pounds of weight. As we have done so far, this involved filling containers with water. However, I will be making a press sometime, I have seem some drawings and photos, and it does seem fairly straightforward, plus it will bring together woodworking and cheese making into one project!
After the first press the cheese was removed and flipped. I need to get better at wrapping the cheese with the cheesecloth though….
So in cooking it is always important to have everything ready and in its pace – mise-en-place – well my timing was off, and I did not have my cheese cave set up (not even purchased!), plus I was off on a short trip to Vancouver. So the cheese was stored in a cake safe in the refrigerator, which is a bit colder than the 10-12 C it should be aged at.
So on my return I picked up a nice 37 bottle wine fridge to use as the cave. It seemed a good deal, it had a digital temperature gauge plus a cool blue light that J just loved, as it is his favourite colour.
We had no problems with humidity using a container of water at the bottom, but some temperature challenges. We had a good 7-8 degree C temperature difference top to bottom, with the top being coldest. Plus the temperature gauge was also significantly off the actual temperature, and I was having trouble getting the temperature down to the correct range. I noticed that with the humidity some water droplets formed on the cooling element, and these only formed on the top 25% of the element. So I was certain something was not right with the element, and with the top part forming ice, this would also explain the temperature gradient top to bottom. So it was back to the cake safe in the refrigerator for the aging.
With Christmas the wine fridge was not able to be returned until after all the festivities, and has been replaced be a smaller one that works!
After two weeks we should save seen mold growing, but none appeared, which I suspect ay be due to the colder temperature the cheese was being aged at.
With the end of the month approaching and the need to get some notes and a photo off to Valerie we cut the cheese open thinking it had been three weeks, while writing this it dawned on me it has only been two! Regardless, I was quite pleased with what we had, considering all the missteps along the way. There is a definite rind starting to form and the pate is creamy and crumbly. The voids I was concerned about during the pressing did not seem to cause an issue.
Caerphilly Tasting Notes
Appearance: Exterior rind a slight straw tinge with the interior an off white colour
Nose: No strong aroma, but nice milky nose
Overall taste: Mild taste, with a bit of a pleasant tang
Sweet to salty: slightly salty
Mild to robust: mild
Mouth feel: Good mouth feel, slightly creamy with a bit of grainy ness
There are a few lessons from this challenge. First, make sure you have everything you need, this should go without saying. Second, I think a smaller diameter mold may produce better results with a thicker cheese. Third, in addition to making sure you have everything, make sure it works! Fourth, write things down, I have been relying on memory and I need to keep better track of the process for each cheese so I know how long the cheese has been aging! – among other things like ingredients, weight, brine, etc….
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