Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cheesemaking Book Review: The Joy of Cheesemaking

Before I get to the review, take a look at this beautiful caprese salad that my wife arranged from some of my fresh mozzarella.  It was a really good salad and I was very happy with the mozzarella.  I made it to take to a party at a friends house and I made it very quickly will little guidance from a recipe.  I guess I have made mozzarella enough times now to know how to make it.  One nice thing is that it turned out almost as good as when I used the Snowville dairy milk.  Not sure what made it turn out good.  I did have to open a new bottle of rennett since I used up all of my first bottle. The salad is made up of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some homemade balsamic syrup my wife made.

This is the 2nd book on cheesemaking I have read.  I will do a review on the first at a later date. First I will tell you what I liked about the book, then what I thought could be better.  Keep in mind I am writing this from the perspective as a relatively new cheesemaker. 

I really like the color pictures in the book.  It showed some nice pictures and had some nice stories of small operation cheesemakers.   Also at the end of the book it had some very good information regarding how to cut different shapes of cheese and how to have a balanced cheese board.  By making sure to put different types of textures, flavors, and milk on the board.  All in all I would recommend this book to people who want to learn more about cheese and how to eat it.  A good book for those who plan on buying the cheese at the store and then bringing it home and having a cheese tasting.

Now some of the things I did not like.  The recipes were really lacking for a "home" cheesemaker.  A lot of the recipes called for 5 gallons of milk.  This can be hard unless you have a big enough pot.  Even if you have a big enough pot (I do) I would not want to commit 5 gallons of milk to a cheese I had never made before.  The book goes into a lot of detail on calculations on how much culture to use and how long after you get the right PH number before you should get a clean break.  They also required some more advance equipment like a PH tester.  While this book might be good for a commercial cheesemaker I would not recommend it for someone who is new or even intermediate in the cheesemaking field. 

So if you are looking for a book to help you appreciate cheese then this might be your book but if you are looking for some guidance in your new found hobby I would not recommend this book.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spanish Cheese, Manchego

So after making my first hard cheese, Farmhouse Cheddar, I looked for a hard cheese I could make that did not need to take very long to age.  For those who know me well, I have little patience and so it has been really hard for me not to cut open my cheddar and see how it tastes.  So I found one.  This is a Spanish Cheese and it is called Manchego.  It is traditionally made from sheep milk but I used cow since I do not have access to sheep.  I was quite excited to try it since I lived in Spain for two years and enjoyed several of the cheeses there. 

First there are several types of Manchego. There is Manchego Fresco (fresh) which can be aged anywhere from a couple of days up to 2 weeks.  Manchego Curado (Cured) aged three to six months.  And then there is Manchego Viejo (old) which is aged at least one year.

Ingredients with my ever faithful cheese journal
 So first the ingredient list
  • 2 Gallons 2% milk
  • 1 packet mesopholic starter
  • 1 packet thermophilic starter
  • 1/2 tsp calcium chloride
  • 1/2 tsp Rennett diluted in 1/4 cup water
  • 2 lbs canning salt
  • 1 gallon water

-I first added the milk and heated it to 86°F

 -After reaching this temperature I turned off the heat and put in the calcium chloride mixed it up really well and then I put in both cultures.  Then I let it set for 45 minutes off the heat (I was using a double boiler)

-Next I added the diluted rennet and stirred (checking the temperature and making sure it was staying at 86°F, when it dipped I put it back on the heat).  I then let this set, covered, for 30 minutes.
Clean break of the curds

 -After getting a clean break I cut the curds in to 1/2 inch cubes, then let it set for 5 more minutes.

 -Next came a new part for me and before I started I did not realize I had to sit there for 30 minutes stirring the curds with a whisk gently changing the 1/2 inch cubes into little rice size curds.  For me it looked a lot like cottage cheese at first.

The curds while I stirred them

The curds near the end of the 30 minutes
 -Now I heated the curds slowly to 104°F (increasing 2° every couple of minutes) stirring gently
    -then let the curds set for 5 minutes.

-I then poured off the whey (keeping it to make whey ricotta out of it) and ladled the curds into a cheesecloth lined mold.

Pouring off the whey but still capturing any curds that sneak through
The curds after pouring off most of the whey

-Next I pressed the bricks with the same crude press I used last time using 1 brick for every 5 lbs of pressure I needed
    -First 15 lbs for 15 minutes, then taking cheese out flip it over and then back into the press
    -repeat this 3 times but on the third time use 35 lbs (7 bricks) for 6 hours.

Manchego in mold after being pressed
Cheese out of mold, after being pressed

-Next I created a salt brine solution by using 2 lbs of cheese and 1 gallon of water I soaked the cheese in this brine for 6 hours at 55°F

-After the 6 hours I cut the brick of cheese in half, so that I can eat one as a Fresco and hopefully the other as a Curado

-Now I coated both bricks of cheese (I estimate that each one was around 1lb so 2 lbs in total, but I need to get a food scale soon so I will now exactly) in olive oil. 

For those who have been to Spain or know anything about them they use olive oil for everything, I was often told contradictory things that olive oil can do, for example if you have a dry scalp use olive oil, if you have dandruff use olive oil, if you want to gain weight use olive oil, if you want to lose weight use olive oil, etc...  So in my mind using the olive oil is what make it very Spanish.

Me coating the Manchego in olive oil

So that is it for this adventure, I am quite satisfied.  I did have some troubles at the beginning keeping the water at 86°F it kept wanting to be a little higher.  I will have to figure out a easy way of keeping the temperature steady.  I am really excited to try this cheese in the next few days.  We will see if I can wait till the weekend before I break into it.  Now I just need to flip it every day and rub of any mold that grows with some salt water.  Sometime soon I need to make some more cheddar because at work we will be having a chili cook-off and I want to bring my own cheese to put on top of it.

My cheese fridge in my basement.  The ones on the top row is my Farmhouse Cheddar coated in red wax and my Manchego below that coated in olive oil.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Different Milk, Different Results

I have made homemade Mozzarella several times now, each time I have had to adapt a little from the recipe I was following because I could never get the cheese to set enough.  Some things I have had to do were letting the mozzarella set after putting in the rennett longer than the 5 minutes the recipe called for (I was letting it set for as much as 20 minutes).  I have also had to let the mozzarella drain in a hung cheesecloth.  I had to do this to get the mozzarella dry enough to handle.  After talking to the Specialty Cheese Category Manager at work he said I should try Snowville Dairy milk since it has not been homogenized.  So I decided to try it.  I had to go to a grocery store a little ways away to get it and it was $7.00 for a gallon of this milk, so a little expensive for my blood.  I thought I would try it and see if it was worth the extra money.
Ingredients used, you can see the Snowville Dairy milk
  • 1 Gallon Whole Milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid diluted in 1 cup cool water
  • 1/4 tsp Rennett diluted in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
-First mix well the milk and citric acid in pot, heat milk mixture to 90 degrees
    -take off heat and add Rennet carefully, stirring very gently in a up and down motion.
-Let milk set 7 minutes

You can see a much better clean break from this Snowville Dairy milk

-Cut curds into 1/2 inch cubes
-Heat to 105 degrees stirring gently
    -you are suppose to do this so the cheese does not knit back together, in the past my curds were not strong enough to knit back together so I did not do it, this time however with the better milk they did knit back together, so make sure to stir gently.

-After you reach 105 degrees turn off heat and let it set for 5 minutes
-Next ladle curds with a slotted spoon into a microwave safe bowl
   -Pour off as much whey as possible, form mozzarella into a ball
-Knead curds (wear globes the cheese is hot)

Me kneading the curds, you can see all the whey leaving the curds

-Microwave for 1 minute, take out and knead cheese
-Microwave for 30 seconds (two times) each time taking out and kneading cheese
-Add salt and start the fun part of stretching the cheese like taffy.  Do this until it starts to cool and has a nice sheen, then form into a ball.

Me having fun with pulling the cheese like taffy
My Snowville Dairy homemade mozzarella ball

 My wife grabbed some tomatoes from our fridge (store bought) and we ate cheese and tomatoes, but then I went to the garden and got a fresh tomato.  You can see the difference, the garden tomato is the darker red one and it tasted so much better.

Yummy tomatoes and mozzarella, plus my wife had some pesto she had bought to go with it.
All in all it was a more successful cheese making then I have had in the past.  Using the Snowville Dairy milk that had not been homogenized really helped with getting a really good clean break, however the taste of this mozzarella was not much different then my past ones, so I do not think I will make it a habit to use this much more expensive milk.  I guess if I ever make a video on how to make home made mozzarella or was asked to teach a few people I might buy it so I can show them how it is suppose to work, but most likely I will just continue to use the cheaper milk I have found locally.

Also this weekend I made a Spanish cheese called Manchego.  I lived in Spain for 2 years so I was excited to make this cheese, also it only takes a few days to age for Manchego Fresco, but you can let it age longer for a stronger flavor, look again soon to see how that went.

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