Adventures in Cheesmaking

This all started out as a curiosity. Like most stuff we eat there is a rich history behind it. Centuries of experimentation. Cheese is just another example.

From the horse back tribes of the Asian Steppes to the Silk Road camel caravans to Romans Legions to European Monks to today, milk was a great source of nutrition but spoiled quickly and was heavy to transport.

The answer was cheese.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carbonzola - suggested recipe

For later reference - this great soft blue was a staple for us when we lived in Belgium - it on the must make list

Making Cambozola Cheese

 Cultures needed for a one or two gallon milk batch.
-Mesophilic Starter Culture (MM100-101 series or MA4000-4001 series or MA11-14-16 series) 1/3 tsp.
-Penicillum Candidum 1/16th tsp.
-Penicillium Roqueforti 1/32nd tsp.
-Rennet(dissolved in a little amount of cool water). Use amount per stated on rennet package. Use any type of rennet.
-Calcium Chloride/optional/use ¼ tsp.(1.25ml) in ¼ cup of cool water.
-Non-iodized course salt

Raw milk or 1 part heavy cream to 7 parts skim milk or non-homogenized whole milk.

Heat milk/cream to 85f (29.5c). Maintain this temperature throughout the process. Sprinkle the Penicillum Candidum and Mesophilic Starter Culture onto the warmed milk, allowing the dry cultures to thoroughly hydrolize. Then add the rennet and stir for a few minutes. Do not add the Penicillium Roqueforti  at this point.  It will be added later. Then gently stir the milk 2-4 minutes using top to bottom strokes. Allow the curd to set and test for clean break after about 60 minutes. After getting a clean, gently cut curds into ½ inch (1.5cm) cubes. Stir curds in the whey for 2-4 minutes. Drain off nearly 80% of the whey from the curds using either a colander or draining bag for 25-30 minutes. Now ladle the drained curds in your camembert moulds until they are half full using about 50% of the curds. Sprinkle a very small dusting of P. roqueforti mold powder (about 1/16 tsp.) on the top of the curds.  Ladle the rest of the curds into the half full Camembert moulds. Let the filled
 moulds drain for 16-24 hours at room temperature until you see no additional draining. Turn the moulds over during this draining period multiple times so they drain uniformly. Once your cheese are drained and firm enough, take them out of their moulds and place them onto a draining mat/platform for salting. Lightly sprinkle about 1 tsp. of course non-iodized salt on all sides of each cheese. After salting, the cheeses can be set aside to age. The temperature should be 50-54f (10-12c) in your aging room. Cover your aging container when the cheeses no longer look excessively moist, making sure there is no moisture touching your cheeses. Flip your cheeses daily using clean hands. The white mold should begin to appear within 3-6 days, maybe a bit longer if the temperature is colder. After you see a good covering of white mold bloom on the cheeses, use a clean knitting needle or clean thin Phillips Head screwdriver, poke about 10 holes through the top of each cheese. These holes
 will air and help in the development of blue veining. Continue to age at 40-50f. You may have to re-poke holes if additional white mold bloom covers the holes. About 10-14 days after the first poking, wrap you cheeses in White Mold Paper and continue to age until you like the flavor. When the center of the cheese is a bit soft to the touch it has completed aging.  You can cut one cheese in half to see how ripe it is. A longer aging period will result in a stronger blue flavor.

Note:  Sometimes due to the fact that the holes may cover up even after you poke them, there is another way to get the blue mold to grow inside the cheese.  After a couple of days of aging when the cheeses are quite firm, using clean fishing line or some kind of clean string, cut the cheese in half horizontally.  Using a fork, scratch up the inside center of both halves.  Then, sprinkle a very tiny amount of the blue mold powder onto one of the halves.  Place the two halves back together and set aside to age.  Since the blue mold needs to grow, the small amount of air now inside the cheese will allow it to blue inside.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This is a working class cheese from Wales. When I grew up a "Cornish Pasty" was a great alternative to a "meat pie" for lunch. But my lunch at school was a very different lunch from the people who invented "dirty hands eating".

Cornish Pasty

The Pasty was a food of the Coal miners. A meat and vegetable filled pasty parcel with a thick hard crust on one end was an ideal food to hold in one coal black hand and eat a hearty meal underground. The cheese was often wrapped in cabbage leaves. The same was true for Caerphilly Cheese (pronunciation). Named after the region in Wales this salty cheese with a tough natural rind did not spoil and was a good part of a meal, replacing the salts lost through hard work underground, and like the Pasty, the rind could be discarded once soiled by coal black hands.

So as you sample this full cream, salty cheese, think of the miners peering at their lunch through the light of their helmet candles, with black hands - eager for their cheese and pasty.
Cheese 32 bg 051906.jpg
The Recipe - makes approx 1 lb wheel
Thanks to fellow Aussie 
for suggestions 

1 gallon full cream milk
1/8 tsp calcium chloride solution  in 1/4 cup non chlorinated water
1/8 tsp Mesophilic Starter 

  • (LL) Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
  • (LLC) Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris

1/8 tsp liquid vegetable rennet ( any rennet will do) in 1/4 cup non chlorinated water
1 table spoon salt

Heat the milk to 90 F
Add the starter and let rest and develop for 20 minutes
Add Rennet with stirring and 2 minutes and let rest at for 40 minutes or longer until you get a clean curds break
Cut the curds into 1/2 inch pieces 
Heat slowly to 92 F with constant stirring and hold for 40 minutes
Drain the curds into a cheese cloth lined colander
Once the curds have drained, cut and "Cheddar" the curds three times in 15 minutes (To "Cheddar" the curds you cut them into 1 inch slabs and stack them up in the along the side of the colander. This helps the syneresis (release of water from the proteins)
Crumble the curds into bits about 1/4 - 1/2 inch
Min in 1 table spoon of seal salt (yes this is a very salty cheese!)

Place the cheese cloth into a mold and press - I use a 5 inch open bottomed mold
Start the press cycle
5 lb for 10 minutes - remove salt the ends, flip and  rewrap 
5 lb for 10 minutes - remove salt the ends, flip and  rewrap 
10 lbs for 30 minutes - remove salt the ends, flip and rewrap
20 lbs over night for 12-16 hours

Place on a board and draining mat for air flow at room temp (65-75 F) for 2 days till dry to the touch turning a few times a day to allow even drying and fat distribution. The cheese quickly formed the start of a dry rind.

Place in a "cheese cave" - in my case the crisper draw of the fridge at 50 F and >85% humidity for min 3 weeks.
Turn every few days while ageing and if molds develop wipe with a saturated salt solution.

Curds after 40 minutes at 92 F

Drain Curds

Cheddar the Curds

Crumble and salt


Remove salt and flip

Overnight press in "Patented" Cheese  press!

Ready for ageing 

UPDATE September 4th

After three weeks in the 55F cave at 85% humidity the cheese has a sold yellow hard rind and I am thinking it is a week away from being cut. Often this cheese is eaten at the three week mark but I think I will develop the flavor a bit more.

Update September 10th

A great cheese - this one will be made again. Perfect for a beer with friends. Good flavor, a salty and creamy taste.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


This is a much storied cheese - very French and full of history and visions of rocky rivers and grazing cattle and sheep to the south and east of Paris, dark cold and damp caves, Camembert and its big brother Brie are a family of soft ripened moldy cheeses that like a Beaujolais need to be consumed not too early and not too late.

The process of Camembert production takes anywhere from a minimum of 21 days (the legal minimum ageing in France to receive its trademarked brand) to about 6 weeks. Ill keep this article live and updated over that period.

To make 2 * 8 oz 250gram Camembert

1/2 gallon Full cream homogenized milk - I used Mayfield brand
1 tbsp Heavy whipping cream - again used Mayfield
Calcium Chloride solution
Mesophilic Starter - pinch
Penicillum Candidum - pinch
Geotrichum Candidum - pinch
For this recipe I used a combined pack
Calf Rennet powder - 1/8 tsp
pH Test strips
4" draining forms
Bamboo draining mats
Cheese Cave - medium temp 12 deg C/55 F 85-95% RH
Cheese Cave - low temp 5 deg C/40 F 80% RH

Get ready

 Time 0
Adjust Milk to a Protein: Fat ratio of 0.9. For my milk this required addition of 1 tbsp of heavy dream to 1/2 gallon of milk: See P:F ratio spread sheet
Add 10 drops of Calcium Chloride solution in 1/4 cup non chlorinated water (I use from the fridge dispenser that has a carbon filter - we don't want to kill the bugs bacteria!)
pH of Milk was 6.5-6.75
Heat to 90 F

Time 15 min
Dissolve starter culture in a 1/2 cup of the milk and add to batch
Hold at 90 F for 1 hour
Dissolve rennet in 1/4 non chlorinated water

Time  1 hour 15 min
pH of Batch was 6.5 to 6.75
Add the rennet and stir well
leave sit undisturbed for 1 hour

Time 1 Hour 25min
Initial floc observation at 10 mins - allow 6-8* initial floc time as your hold time

A clean break
Time 2 Hour 40min
pH 6.5
Use a slotted ladle transfer curds in draining forms on drainage mats (sterilize all materials - I poor boiling water over it all)
Transfer curds gently to forms

Allow the curds to drain
Time 4 Hours
Place a second draining mat and board on top of the form and invert

Time 5 Hours 30 min
Place a second draining mat and board on top of the form and invert

Time 7 Hours
Place a second draining mat and board on top of the form and invert
The volume will reduce by over 2/3

Time 8 Hours
Place a second draining mat and board on top of the form and invert
Left overnight

Next Morning Day 2
Whey is now acidic at pH 4.5 - taste it 
The pH of the whey is now 4.75 - taste it - very sharp and acidic
Add about 1/2 tsp of salt
Leave in the mold and sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt on one surface.

Time 2 Hours
Remove the mold and salt the other side

Time 6 Hours
Air dry for 4-8 hours until no whey is on the surface
Flip and air dry

Time 8 Hours
Place in a plastic container on a draining mat. A a small container of water and place at 50F and 80% Humidity for 10 days and turn each day to ensure good even growth of mold.

Ready for the "Cave"

UPDATE: September 4th 2011

So after 10 days in the 50F cave they had a good cover of mold. They were wrapped in breathable two layer cheese paper and placed in the cold cave 45F for another and a bit weeks.

One felt ready so we opened it up - great news - wonderful creamy center - mild but good taste. I think I got it at just the right time!