CHEESEPALOOZA “pre-announcement”, below!
Artisan cheese making has been on my radar for a couple of years now, but it wasn’t until lunch with Carmen where that necessary “I can do it” switch was triggered and I was transformed through that “ah-ha” moment with the confidence to make homemade ricotta! That changed everything.
I made creamy ricotta, wet ricotta, dry ricotta, herbed ricotta and polka-dot ricotta. (Just making sure you are following along!) I had already mastered yogurt cheese, crÃ¨am fraÃ®che, paneer, and attempted firm tofu, but these young cheeses were very straight forward to make. That fear of the unknown: the ingredients and science of cheese making: rennet – cultures – aging – temperatures – humidity, had stunted my cheese making aptitude.
But, look at me now! Picture: big band music, donned in flowing white gown swirling and twirling my beloved cheese, centre stage, spotlit…
Rather, look at the cheese! Thanks to Addie and his expertise, as this entire recipe and process is his, I experienced success! He is still fine tuning the recipe as this cheese was still very soft, but I loved it. It was exactly the same as the chÃªvre I love from Smoky Valley Goat Cheese!
Addie came over the night I returned home from the Okanagan Food and Wine Writer’s Workshop and we completed the first phase of the recipe. In the morning he was back and we completed the second phase of the recipe.
I finished it up that evening and delivered his sample to him a couple of days later. He had decided to have his rolled in lilac petals and tarragon leaves. I did another in chive flowers and chives.
The scientist at work.
Best made with whole goat’s milk from Vital Greens (a local Alberta Farm) available at Planet Organic, unless you can use raw goat’s milk, if you are so fortunate
- 6-8 litre stainless steel pot (a heavier pasta pot or stock pot works very well)
- large slotted spoon
- precise digital thermometer to read up to 80Â°F
Note: Ian Treuer from Much To Do About Cheese recommends: “Go to a fabric store and ask for unbleached cheese cloth. Â The weave is tighter and you can by it by the square metre. Â The stuff you purchase at the grocery store is ok but the weave is very loose and really does not stand up after a while.”
Prepare Work Area:
- sanitize all surfaces, pots and utensils
- have counter and stove top free of food
- get out clean cloths (all dirty ones away)
- 4 litres Vital Greens (local farm) goat’s milk
- 1/4 cup Vital Greens buttermilk
- 1/4 rennet tablet (Italian Centre Shops) or 1/4 tsp rennet (unless using the liquid rennet from Bosch Kitchen Centre (99766-51 Ave) as it is Â “pressure concentrated” so it is a double strength rennet
- 1/4cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt (preferably non iodized)
- take milk out of the fridge a couple of hours before intending to make the cheese (room temperature)
- crush 1/4Â tablet of rennet and dissolve in Â¼Â cup of cool,Â unchlorinated water; set aside to use
- measure 1/4 cup of buttermilk (shake well, first); set aside
- pour milk into pot; stir in buttermilk and heat slowly to 80Â°F(IMPT)
- remove the pot from the burner, and add the dissolved to the milk (IMPT) immediately stirring in a top to bottom motion for approx. 30 seconds, then stop
- cover the pot, and leave undisturbed for 12 hours inside your oven, or a warm place where it won’t get jarred
After 12 hours:
- check the curd: it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey around the side of the pot: you can see a clean break when tested with a knife
- prepare the sieve by covering it with layers of cheese cloth; we used a more tightly woven cloth
- ladle the curd into the lined sieve to allow the whey to drain; if using molds, place the curds in the molds
- once the bulk of the whey has drained in the sieve, hang the cheese for 6 hours as the weight of it will assist the process
- if whey is still dripping from the hung bag, leave it a couple of more hours; it will be damp and feel very moist to the touch on the outside, but there will be no whey dripping from the curds
After 6 more hours:
- ensure the counter top is sanitzed; sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the surface area or the curds and gently mix in; if curds are in molds, sprinkle a little salt over the top of each mold and it will seep in
- form into logs on top of plastic wrap, or choose an herb mixture to roll the log in, then place the mixture on the plastic wrap, roll the log in it, and wrap
- refrigerate and enjoy; the shelf life is a week to 10 days if not rolled in an herb mixture; if rolled in herbs, a little over two weeks
- I put in about a tablespoon of water and crush the rennet with the end or a wooden spoon in the water, then add the remainder of the water, ensuring the rennet is well crushed, all from the end of the spoon is in the water, and it is well dissolved
- This freezes well to be used in sauces of mashed potatoes if you see you will not be using it within 7 to 10 days
- If rolling in herbs, or adding herbs, let the cheese cure for a couple of days before serving
The texture and flavour were perfect. The one rolled in chives and chive flowers was so pretty and absolutely delicious. I added a little finishing salt on it.
My only regret? That I had known that three of the gals I was making this for didn’t like goat cheeses. Ah! However, one tried it, and was very impressed. I believe that is because it didn’t induce gagging. This is a mild, lovely treat. As it ages, it gets that familiar tangy more intense goat flavour that is off putting to some. I love fresh cheeses, but I adore stinky ones, too.
Which brings me to a pre-announcement: Watch for Cheesepalooza coming to your neighbourhood, soon. I have spoken to Mary Karlin of Artisan Cheese Making at Home and though she is not sure, at present, how much time she can devote to our project, she will contribute her mentorship to it in a yet to be determined capacity. Project?
Yes, Addie, Ian, Deb and I are initiating a Cheesepalooza Project: a 9 to 10 month Artisan Cheesemaking adventure where we use Mary’s book as our guide and all make the same cheeses to a specific schedule. We hope many of our readers will participate. There will be monthly postings. Right now we are working on the plan. Then comes the prizes and sponsorships, we hope!
If you are interested in participating, please go here for more information and for how to submit your name, and I will e-mail you with the deets as soon as we have them! Please also tell us what you are interested in learning and doing, cheese-wise!
If you have any cheese making expertise, please also let us know!