Waxing Your Cheese

I recently produced a ‘how to’ video on waxing cheese.

Cheese wax is a special formulation and is not the same as paraffin or candle wax. That type of wax is too brittle to be used to coat cheese, as the cheese needs a solid yet flexible covering to keep the air and bacteria out of it and to keep the remaining moisture locked in to help with the maturation process. I received a kilogram of red cheese wax with my kit and it is about $15 per kilo. It should last quite a while, because you can reuse the wax again after you have eaten your cheese. I have even used wax that Ben collected off of his baby belle cheeses!

I find this process relaxing and rewarding knowing that when the cheese matures, it will be mould free and moist as expected.

You could use bee’s wax to be a bit more eco-friendly, however I have found that over the years, I have lost very little wax, and am still using most of the initial supply that I bought back in 2009!

How is that for recycling?

Blue Cheese Update #2

I have now turned the blue cheese for the second time and am 8 days into the process.  This is what all 3 look like.  Click to enlarge.

The two smaller cheeses have blue mould all over and the humidity is just right.  They are developing well and will mature much quicker than the larger one below.

The large blue has a blue hat!  The bottom was very moist before I turned it, so I elevated the mats off the floor of the icecream container so it would drain better.  I think because of this, the mould is struggling to form on the sides.  Now that it is draining better, it should have no trouble.  I think the humidity is okay, as there is lots of condensation on the inside of the container.  Time will tell.

Next update for this cheese in a week.

The Joy of Cheesemaking

Now in which other hobby do you get to do something like this with your food?  I had a ball making this Mozzarella for friends to eat.

Nice little balls of Mozzarella.  Note the yellow colour.  I added 2 drops of Annatto colouring to enhance the visual effect.

The finished product, all made with Demeter Biodynamic Milk, which is as good as it gets unless of course you have a house cow or goat!

We used this batch on pizza that we served up to our Sustainable Living Group as thanks for helping to make our Clay Oven on Saturday.  It was very tasty!

Blue Cheese Update #1

The blue cheese that I made on Friday was dry enough today after 3 days turning, that I made the decision tonight to pierce the holes in each cheese so that they can develop the blue mould, and to put them in their maturation boxes then into the cheese cave.

Here are the two smaller wheels before piercing.  Notice the slight blue blush or the mould already.  They are dry to touch, but still very moist.

As a piercing tool, I simply use one of my milk thermometers and stab from top to bottom.

Here they are tucked safely in their box waiting to be put into the cheese cave.  Under the stand is a little bowl of water to keep the humidity high.

Here is the large wheel, which weighs about 1.5 kg.  It was also starting to bulge but in a bad way, so I had to slip the hoop back on it.  

It has a large crack through the middle, probably from when I shoved it back into the hoop.  To patch it up, I smoothed the outside around the crack and it sealed like glue.

I pierced from top to bottom with the thermometer.  About 40 holes in all.  That should give the cheese a lovely even blue flavour and nice lines throughout.

Finally, here it is in its maturation box.  As this is the biggest blue I have ever made, I had to improvise a little.  I used a 4 litre ice cream container, and the cheese is resting on two 2 litre ice cream container lids and on top of that is some sushi mat cut to size.  I put a little water in the floor of the container to raise the humidity.  The cheese is well above this little bit of water.  With the lid on, I put both containers into the bottom of the cheese cave. 

Next steps are to turn ever 4 days for 30 days, then scrape any blue and red mould off with a knife.  This cheese matures for at least 90 days, where I will wrap in cheese wrap and refrigerate in the normal fridge for another month.  It should then be ready to eat!

Looking forward to writing the next blue update.

Romano Cheese

Wikipedia states;

“Romano cheese is a type of cheese that is known for being very hard, salty and sharp. It is usually grated. It is different from normal cheeses because it requires more milk per pound, most water being lost in the creation process.

There are different types of romano cheese. True romano cheese is made from sheep’s milk, pecorino romano or goat’s milk (caprino romano), though mass produced versions, as in the United States, are often made from cow’s milk (vacchino romano).  Pecorino romano is sharp and tangy. Caprino romano, the goat’s milk version, has an extremely sharp taste. Vacchino romano is very mild in taste. Most of the romano cheeses made in the United States are made from cow’s milk or with a mix of cow’s milk and either sheep or goat milk.”

So, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a Parmesan then Romano should be your cheese of choice to make, and of course that it goes great with most pasta dishes.  In the shops it is sometimes sold as Pecorino Romano, which is vacuum packed to make it all the way from Italy to Australia and also very expensive.  Think of all those food miles!

Anyway, here is my method that I adapted out of the book “Making Artisan Cheese” by Tim Smith.

I found that Warrnambool  Cheese and Butter Factory Company now sell Jersey Milk via supermarkets.  I bought 8 litres because the milk is much creamier and higher in butter fat (4%) than the normal milk you can buy (3.1-3.4%).  This makes for a much fuller and richer cheese, so I reduced the amount of milk by one litre down from the normal 8 that I normally use.  This is because if I used 8 litres the curds would not fit in the cheese mould after cooking them.

Romano Cheese

  • 7 litres whole milk (Jersey Milk) or 8 litres of full cream milk 3.4% butterfat
  • 1/8 teaspoon Thermophilic culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon Lipase dissolved in 60ml cool boiled water
  • 2.5ml liquid vegetable rennet diluted in 60ml cool boiled water
  • 2.5ml calcium chloride diluted in 60ml cool boiled water (omit if using un-homogenised milk)

Brine solution

Method

Sterilize all equipment.
Heat milk to 33C (90F), stir in the calcium chloride if required.  Add starter culture, stir, then add the diluted lipase.  Cover, and let milk ripen for 15 minutes.

Maintaining the target temperature of 33C, add the diluted rennet whilst stirring for two minutes.  Cover and let sit for 40 minutes, or until you have a clean break.

Once you have a clean break, cut the curds into 6mm cubes (1/4″).  Let the curds rest for 10 minutes at the target temp.

Slowly heat the curds to 46C (115F), which took about 30-45 minutes.  Stir frequently, with a whisk.  When you reach the target temp, maintain for another 45 minutes, continuously stirring (sore arms) to prevent matting of the curds.

Drain through a cheese cloth lined colander.  Keep the whey for your animals if you like or set aside for baking!

Pour the curds into a 1kg (2lbs) cheese cloth lined mold.  Cover the top with the excess cloth, top with the follower, and press at 5kg (10lbs) for 30 minutes.

Remove from the press, unwrap (be gentle), turn over the cheese, re wrap and press at 11kg (25lb) for 3 hours.  Repeat procedure, pressing at 20kg (40lb) for 12 hours.  Repeat again, pressing at 9kg (20lb) for 12 hours.

Remove the cheese from the mold, and unwrap and immerse the cheese in the brine solution.  Flip the cheese every 6 hours and let it sit in the brine for 24 hours at room temp approx 21C (70F).

Take the cheese out of the brine, pat dry, and place in the cheese fridge at 13C (55F) at 80-85% humidity for 10 months (shorter if you like).

Turn the cheese daily for the first three week of aging, and weekly thereafter.  Remove any mould that forms on the exterior with a clean cloth and brine solution.

After 1 month, rub the cheese in olive oil to keep it from drying out, and again after a week.  Repeat oiling every month until maturity.  You can also skip the oil and wax if you like.

In the picture below, I am only up to the last pressing, but have a look how yellow this cheese is already.

Romano Cheese

I have never had a Romano cheese this yellow at this stage of its life.  I did notice that the milk was certainly not a white as normal milk, and more like a off-white to yellow colour.  Also with this milk, the curd set stronger than I have ever seen.  The clean break test was very positive with a nice solid curd.  I am looking forward to full maturity and don’t know if I can wait for the entire 10 months 😉

This cheese is still in the cheese fridge and matures in October 2011, however I made some last year, and it had a comparable taste to a mild Parmesan, with more body.

I highly recommend this cheese for anyone looking for a tasty slicing and grating cheese that will accompany any Italian meal!