Sunday, 24 July 2011

Big Cheese

I have been busy making cheese today.  So what is new you probably think to yourselves, you always make cheese.

Well, I have been making big cheeses.  You see, now that I have a 14 litre pot and two cheese presses, I can make double the amount of cheese in the same time frame as it used to take me to make just one.  I am so glad that I "upsized" my equipment, because now I seem to always have cheese at hand, and some left over should friends want to buy some from or to give away as gifts. Nothing says 'I love you' like home made cheese!

Last weekend, I made two Caerphilly cheeses, and the week before that, I made the biggest Parmesan that I have ever made.


The only problem I have is that it has been so cold here of late, that the cheese will not dry and form a rind.  The Caerphilly above, which are the two wheels at the front, have been sitting at room temperature for 7 days, and have only formed a slight rind on the edges.  Because they have been moist, I have had to wash with brine to inhibit mould growth. 

Not so bad though for the Parmesan at the back.  Because it is a brine dipped cheese, the rind forms really easily, with minimal mould formation.  I will wax it this week, as I find this helps it from drying out.  As for the Caerphilly, I will wait for the rind, and then put them in the cheese cave for a few more weeks before vacuum packing them to stop them from aging further.


Today, because it was raining heavily and I couldn't do much outside, I decided to make another big Parmesan.  It took me about 4 hours from milk to press (as shown above), and tomorrow I will brine it for 24 hours.  In ten months it will taste absolutely delicious! 

This morning, Kim found some Feta in the fridge that I had made about 3 months ago, still in the brine and looking very healthy.  I tried a little and found it to be sharp, very edible, with a crumbly texture to the cut, but when spread on toast it was smooth and creamy and delicious.  I remember following my standard recipe for this one, and it just goes to show that if kept submerged in brine in a sealed container, Feta can last for a long time.  Now that we have discovered this, I think I will age all of my Feta for this long!

5 comments:

  1. Hey Gavin...I think its great that Feta lasts so long in the fridge...We don't eat alot of it...so when I make a batch it lasts quite a while...Mine has been in the fridge since late January...and its still going well...used some on the weekend...still as good as ever...not much left now though..so I'll have to get organised and make some more....loving your new cheese blog....keep up the good work.

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  2. Hi Narelle, Feta is so nice. I didn't realise that it would keep so long in the brine. I only discovered about 12 months ago that you need to add vinegar and CaCl to the brine so that the cheese stays solid. All my attempts at Feta before that were very runny and you had to eat it really fast!

    Gav x

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  3. Hey Gavin, I've making feta for 14 years with my own goat milk, usually in 3-4 gallon batches through the spring and summer before the goats dry up in autumn.

    Try adding whey to your brine. The problem with an all-water brine is that it pulls the calcium from the cheese, causing it to disintegrate. I prefer all-whey if I have enough, though half-whey works too. I strain the whey left from feta-making before adding the salt. Feta is then stored in the fridge in gallon jars topped with brine, ready for consumption or sale.

    There's usually some year-old feta left over before the next milking season starts, which some customers prefer as it gets deliciously stronger as it ages.

    Have you tried adding herbs to the feta? My biggest feta sellers are Herbs de Provence and Garlic & Dill, both excellent in cooking (try scrambled eggs or stuffed rabbit loins with provence feta and chopped spinach or asparagus!).

    Several years ago I accidentally made a plain batch with double the lipase that just about knocked my socks off and was surprised that a number of customers went nuts over it, so now I always make at least one batch of extra-strong plain. :)

    Last fall I experimented with my last one gallon of goat milk, adding red pepper flakes and finely chopped jalapeno peppers and green and black olives--and sold out instantly! I'm anxiously awaiting the new kids so I can try it again.

    Just some thoughts....

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sagehill, You have given me lots to work with here. The garlic and dill feta sounds delicious, as does the extra strong variety. All these additions sound like they make a plain cheese very exciting.

      Oh and thanks for the tip about the whey brine. That will save me having to use CaCl.

      Do you have a web site so that I can add it to this blogs sidebar?

      Gav

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  4. Thanks for the offer, but there's no website... I'm just a simple goat farmer with a Jersey cow, who makes mostly feta, Mont Jack and Queso Fresco because they're all relatively quick cheeses.

    Hey, I tried your Caerphilly two weeks ago exactly. Do I really have to wait another 2+ weeks before I can try it? LOL

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