Getting Cheesy

Everytime I make cheese I am reminded of Gareth Blackstock in the absurdly excellent BBC sitcom ‘Chef’ talking about raw cheese (see the entire episode ‘The Big Cheese’ here).  In particular, when his cheese monger Sebastien comes to sell him cheese and he is looking for real, unpasteurized Stilton.  Before you read on watch this clip about unpasteurized cheese. Hilarious!  It is even worse in the USA where we are scared on real cheese.  Today I bought five gallons of raw milk in a dark, back alley.  As I made the transaction I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching.  Five nerve wracking miles of driving back constantly eyeing the rear view mirror to make sure no one followed.  The joys of running illegal raw milk.

IMG_20130731_171450_826I hadn’t made cheese in a long time and I needed to reference the words and confident advice of cheese maven and guru Ricki Carroll vise a vis her excellent tome on cheesemaking simply called “Home Cheese Making”.  A few years back I had bought a cheese press and enough bacteria to convert rivers of milk into curds.  Now I was dusting off the press and refreshing my memories of house made tangy cheddar, creamy Camemberts and perfect Mozzarella.  Here is a pictorial of today’s efforts, note Ricki’s book on the work counter.

IMG_20130802_141742_881Heat milk, mixing with mesophilic starter and letting the milk ripen.

IMG_20130802_141742_881 IMG_20130802_142311_081After adding the rennet and letting the milk set till the curd gives a clean break you cut the curd into 1/2 inch slices and slowly heat the curd.

IMG_20130802_143417_057 IMG_20130802_144357_961Afterwards I ladled the curds into camembert molds and let the whey run out.  For the next five hours I flipped the cheese every hour till it compressed the curds into the traditional camembert shape.  Now the cheeses need to rest for a few weeks and ripen into heaven.  I should mention for cheese making purists that I combined three processes into one here.  While initially cheesemaking is the same regardless of cheese, the starters added are different.

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