Adventures in Cheese | Guest Post

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Today’s post is Curd-Nerd’s first guest post and comes from Louise, a regular Camembert maker who is also venturing into other cheeses such as Stilton and Cheddar.

In this post she takes us from a simple thought about making cheese through to her success at creating delicious creamy Camembert.

Camembert It all started when my husband had a hankering for Camembert and brought home a wheel one day.

“How hard would it be to make our own Camembert?” he asked me.

“Not that hard” I replied

He found a recipe online, came home and made the most wonderful gooey, sweet, spicy cheese spread I had ever had.

A week later we received a wine fridge from his employer for 15 years of service with the company.

Bingo! I see cheese in our future!

We found a local organic vegetable and fruit stand had raw milk from a local farm for sale. The price was steep! $10 a gallon! But I bought a gallon anyway to see what I could do.

I had made simple cheeses in the past, about 10 years ago, so I knew the basic principles. I had never worked with raw milk before though but it wasn’t too much different from regular store bought milk as far as the process other than the fact I got a pound of butter out of the yield as well.

Our first Camembert was very good. It had an earthiness about it with hints of mushroom, but it had a firmer texture than we wanted. I decided to try the 2% + 1 cup cream method on the next batch. I used store bought homogenized (yes, I said homogenized) milk this time and I had my doubts that it would work but it did. In fact it worked perfectly.  Great yield, beautiful mold, great texture, nice and creamy center. I wondered, since this worked so well, what it would be like if I used whole milk + 1 cup of cream?

Camembert

While they say the soft cheeses are advanced I didn’t really find this to be so, but when considering butterfat content… I definitely see their point. Using the whole milk + cream I ended up with a cheese that would not finish draining. It was wet forever. When I took it out of the mold and let it drain for a day, it flattened out a bit and looked more like a flying saucer. Yet, it molded perfectly and is now aging for a few more weeks in the wine fridge.

I immediately made another batch of Camembert using the 2% method as I’ve been getting more or less very consistent results with this combination. I’ve also been experimenting with some of the other cultures, like Flora Danica to see what kind of flavors I could get.

Another thing I’ve noticed is I don’t always need the Rennet. One batch I made had set up before I could get the Rennet into it but I thought I should follow the recipe so put it in. It ruined my cheese and it all fell apart. Perhaps I had put too much starter in. This is why it’s always best to keep a cheese log!

Next I decided to try making blue cheese. I had a recipe for Stilton, my all time favorite cheese! Again, I used the 2% method with fantastic results. But no one shows you what it should look like. It was turning green and blue all over!

Stilton

“Where is my white mold?” I asked.

I did get a little bit of white mold but also learned that the blue cheeses don’t typically get white mold so I wrapped it in cheese paper and it’s been sitting in the wine fridge for about a month now. It will be ready in October and looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to try it!

In the meantime, I found some online plans for a cheese press and my husband has been dying for me to start making Parmesan so I gave him the plans for the press and asked if he would make it for me.

Once it was made, I decided to start slowly with a Farmers cheddar cheese. The recipe says it should take a week to dry after pressing but ours was dry the next day. I waited a couple of extra days, just in case and then we waxed it. A messy process but now this too is in the wine fridge and should be ready in a few months. Meanwhile I keep making my lovely Camembert that we have been enjoying so much.

Armed with some starter, inoculants, a thermometer (make sure it works correctly!) and Rennet ANYONE can make these lovely cheeses. You just have to have the courage of your convictions, lots of patience and a wine fridge or a cold storage area.

Ingredients are easy to find online and the rewards are so delicious!


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