January was a busy month that saw us having some vacation, and myself starting a new job. This left little time for cheese making. However we did manage near the end of the month to turn out a couple of wheels of Asiago Pepato for Cheesepalooza Challenge 6
As we have been doing for cheesepalooza, we used the recipe for Asiago Pepato from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. The recipe had us make two wheels so that we could enjoy one young at 3 weeks as Asiago Pressto, and another wheel after a few months of additional aging – I think the real test will be how long we are willing to wait!
The recipe called for 2 – 4 5/8″ Italian draining baskets. Well I had one that was close to 6″. I had some other molds, but they were 3 1/2″ or the tomme at 7″. What to do? Well, you increase the milk to 12 l from 8 l, use the 6″ mold and find another 6″ mold. The additional 6″ came from a small salad spinner which seemed great at the time but did pose some problems, which I will elaborate on later.
The recipe called for 6 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, so going to 12 l would require 9 l of whole milk and 3 l of 2% milk. However, to keep the purchase simple we picked up 10 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, all from Vital Greens and un homogenized. The should impact the final cheese significantly, except for slightly higher butter fat content.
The recipe called for 6 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, so going to 12 l would require 9 l of whole milk and 3 l of 2% milk. However, to keep the purchase simple we picked up 10 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, all from Vital Greens and un homogenized. The should impact the final cheese significantly, except for slightly higher butter fat content.We had all our ingredients, making sure to multiply all amounts by 1.5, and equipment in place (above you see post it notes under the calcium chloride and rennet in case they got mixed up).
For this cheese we are using the counter top turkey roaster for the first time. I spent some time calibrating it the day before, but it will take some further calibrating. We put about 4 c of water in the bottom for the water bath to transfer the heat to the basin. Ideally the milk would have been at room temperature, however we poured it in straight from the fridge.
It took almost 2 hours to get the milk up to the 92 d F, a wee bit longer than if it was done on the stove or if the milk was at room temperature. We used Thermo B thermophilic starter, and ripened the milk before adding the calcium chloride, followed by the rennet. During this time the milk did go up 97 d F.
We had a nice clean break, so it was time for J to cut the curd, one f his favourite parts. For this cheese, the curds should be 1/2 inch pieces, but with a 7 year old it was somewhat free form!
The curds were then heated to 104 d F, the stirred for a while, then heated to 118 d F continuing to stir until temperature reached, then a short rest. The whey was drained off to expose some glorious curds!
Since the peppercorns (tellicherry) are placed in the middle of the cheese, we put 1/4 of the curds into each mold, and let these drain for a bit before adding the peppercorns and the rest of the curds.
In the following photo you can see the salad spinner improvised mold, with J carefully placing the peppercorns.
After a few questions from J about the required accuracy of peppercorn placement, and my assurance that randomness was OK for this, he felt OK free pouring the peppercorns!
The remaining curds were placed on top, and the cheese was ready for pressing. Prior to pressing, I had to make some followers. I used a cutting board, which worked very well. I like having the right tool for the job, and a bandsaw would been able to produce perfect circles, however I showed some restraint and used a jigsaw and belt sander.
Over the last six months, our cheese making equipment has increased, one thing we don’t have yet is a cheese press. A cheese press would make this whole next step in the process much easier than trying to balance jugs of water and hoping the pressure was even so the wheels would not be lopsided. So hopefully I can get one made before the next cheese.
The cheese was pressed for about 1 hour then flipped, the cheese in the purchased cheese mold came out very nicely, while the wheel in the salad spinner came out nice, after flipping it needed to be massaged to get back in since the sides sloped.
After pressing for another 8 hours the wheels were ready for brining. With the larger holes or mesh of the salad spinner this wheel had a neat pattern. I was not sure if this would impact the aging process, so I trimmed all the raised bits prior to brining. This wheel weighed 1 lb 4 oz.
The other wheel in the purchased mold came out perfect! It weighed 1 lb 14 oz, so we obviously did not divvy the curds up evenly!
After brining, the wheels were air dried for about 16 hours. The salad spinner wheel weighed in at 1 lb 3 oz, and the other wheel at 1 lb 12 oz.
They were the placed in the cave for aging.
Now we have no tasting notes yet, as the Pressato will need another 3 weeks. For the Pressato, we will use salad spinner wheel, and keep the perfect wheel for further aging, I am aiming for 6 months.
As soon as we taste we will add our tasting notes!