Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Blue Cheese Update #3

I could wax lyrical about all the cheese that I have made that went according to plan, but I don't think I have ever mentioned one that has gone terribly wrong!  This is one of those times.

If you have been reading my adventures  about a Blue cheese that I have been chronicalling, this is the final post in the Blue cheese adventure.

It started out looking kind of nice and something like this.  There was enough curds for two small and one rather large cheeses.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I totally neglected these cheeses.  They required turning every 4 days and humid conditions.  At the 30 day mark I was to scrape off the mould and it would have looked nice.

Anyway, because of the neglect, this is what they looked like on Monday night!

The large one had mostly had a melt down, but was salvageable of sorts, but the two small ones had totally lost their form and were runny inside.  A bit like blue cheese Camembert I suppose.  As for the taste, well they were fantastic.  A great creamy blue cheese flavour.

This is what I managed to do with them.

I scraped all of the mould off of the large cheese, then wrapped it in cheese wrap and put it into the normal refrigerator to see what happens.  I could use it now, but it would be just good for spreading on crackers like a blue cream cheese.

As for the two small ones, we stored them for a day in the fridge and turned them into a wonderful blue cheese sauce.  Kim cooked up some Penne pasta and lots of cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and corn, mixed it all together with the some rue which she added the cheese to make a blue cheese sauce and baked it in the oven.  The flavour was amazing and the meal was delicious.  Ben went back for seconds as did I!

If this is what is known as a disaster in the cheese world, then I am happy with it!  I love it when we learn from mistakes that can be turned around to something edible and yummy.  It just goes to show that cheese making is not all about recipes and following rules, it can be about serendipitous mistakes as well!

I will leave you with this cheesy quote of the day:
"People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime." - Harvey Day

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cheese Loves Herbs and Spices

I have been making herb flavoured cheese since back in 2009.  I find that a good cheese becomes a great one with the addition of a few simple herbs or spices.  Here are a few examples.

Here is a Wensleydale with Sage that I recently made.

All I do is pick some Sage from the garden, dry it on a tray in the oven at 120C (230F) for 5 minutes.  They shrivel a little, but you only spread a single layer once you put in half the milled curds into your mould.  The flavour that it imparts to the cheese is amazing.  Here is the finished product.

Another of my favourites is Pyrenees with green peppercorns.  All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of green peppercorns to half a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain the water, cool it down, and add it to the milk before the culture.  Add the peppercorns during milling or before putting the curds in the mould.

The cheese has a sharp flavour enhanced by the soft green peppercorns.

If you like chilli, then Pepper Jack is another spicy cheese you could try.  Same method as Monteray Jack, but add 1 teaspoon of dry chilli flakes to half a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add water before culture and chilli flakes at milling.

This cheese goes great with crackers and an ice cold Cerveza!

Lastly my all time favourite, Farmhouse Cheddar with red peppercorns.  I used the Farmhouse Cheddar recipe from Ricki Carroll's Home cheesemaking book and added red peppercorns as per my normal method.

The combination was simply fantastic and is a great match with a glass of red wine.

This Friday, I will be attempting a variation on the Farmhouse Cheddar, this time with cumin seeds.  Same method of preparation, same Farmhouse Cheddar recipe.  I have tasted Edam with cumin before and was very impressed.  I think I will only add a teaspoon of seeds to the water, as I don't want the flavour to be too overbearing.  I will report back after the taste test in a few months!

So, in conclusion, the addition of extra ingredients can literally spice up your cheese and add that certain something that you may have been craving for.  I highly recommend giving it a try. You will thank yourself for it!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Pyrénées Cheese with Green Peppercorns

Time for another cheese tutorial.  I first made this cheese a few years back, and I love its sharp and peppery flavour.

This is a cows milk variety of Ossau-Iraty (normally made from sheeps milk) which is quite acceptable, and originates from south west France. 


8 litres full cream milk, at least 3.4% fat
1 quarter teaspoon direct set Mesophilic starter culture
2.5 ml Rennet mixed with 60 ml unclorinated water
2.5 ml Calcium Chloride mixed with 60 ml unclorinated water
1 Tablespoon of cheese salt (non-ionised salt)
1 Tablespoon of green peppercorns
1 half cup of water


  1. As usual I set up all the utensils and ingredients before I begin, then I sterilise everything in water in the 8 litre pot for 15 minutes.
  2. Boil, then simmer the peppercorns in the water for 15 minutes.  Strain the peppercorns, retain the water.
  3. Heat the milk to 32C (90F).  Add the pepper water, then add the starter culture, stir, maintain the target temp for 45 minutes.  Add the diluted calcium chloride and stir for 1 minutes.
  4. Add the rennet to the milk, stir top to bottom for 1 minute.  Cover and set aside for 45 minutes.
  5. Test for a clean break, then using a curd knife, cut the curd into 1 cm cubes (half an inch).
  6. Gently raise the temperature to 38C (100F).  This should take about 30 minutes.  Gently stir whilst raising the temp.
  7. Once target temp is reached, cover for 5 minutes, then pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth.  Tie up the curds into a ball and let them hang from a long spoon resting on the edges of a large pot to drain for one hour.
  8. After an hour the ball will be firm and moist, but not hard.
  9. Mill the curds into thumbnail sized pieces them mix through the salt and the peppercorns with your fingers.  Transfer to the 1kg mould, fold the cloth over and put the follower on top.  Press lightly, about 2.5 kg (5lb) for 30 minutes.  Remove, turn over and repress at 5kg (10lb) for 15 minutes.  Turn again and repress at 10kg (20lb) for 12 hours.  Remove, turn, and repress for a last time at 10kg for 12 hours.
  10. Remove cheese from the mould and cloth, and let air dry on a wooden board.  This may take from 3 to 5 days.  Be sure to turn the cheese a few times a day so that it dries evenly.
  11. Once your cheese has developed a rind, ripen at 13C (55F), and 80-85% humidity, from 4 to 6 months.  
I prefer to wax the cheese once the rind has developed, because from experience, this cheese dries out too quickly.  Try it at 4 months as it is very tasty at this stage, however it gets sharper with age.

Part One

Part Two

Bon appétit!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Farmhouse Cheddar Video Tutorial

Friday night was cheesemaking night, and as the Farmhouse Cheddar tasted so good, I thought I had better make a replacement toot sweet!  So as I made the cheese, I filmed it as well, and over the last few days I have been editing and producing another of my tutorial cheesemaking videos.

So here it is!

This cheese is just so simple to make and has a great taste, especially when you add peppercorns!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Curd Cutter

Up until now I have been cutting curd with a long flat knife, which has served its purpose well.  The vertical cuts are easy to make, but I always come unstuck with the horizontal cuts, which can be difficult to cut evenly and of a uniform size.  I end up with big long lumps of curd that I have to re-cut as I begin to stir the curd.  This is a proverbial pain in the bottom, but is one of those things you have got to put up with when you make cheese with just equipment out of the kitchen.

A few months ago, a fellow cheese maker from Manitoba, Canada named David, contacted me about one of the cheese recipes that I posted and asked a few questions.  We became cheese making pen pals so to speak, and the other week, he told me about a curd cutter that he made from stainless steel.  Here is a picture of it.

It looks great, and I have always envied those commercial cheese makers that use this type of tool for making the horizontal cut in their curds.  Anyway David describes how to use it as such;
"Cutting the curds diagonally from the top always resulted in lots of big pieces, certainly much bigger than the 1 cm that was stipulated. Mine is tapered because my pot slopes in from top to bottom and the width is the same as the radius of the pot. So I just push it down and rotate the pot 180 degrees, then do the vertical cuts. The whole thing is stainless steel with nylon fishing line as the cutting 'wires'. It works very well for me anyway."
I was so impress, that I asked him how to make one, with which he offered to make one for me out of wood and send it over to me here in Australia for free, as a thank you gift for all of my cheese tutorial videos.  So on my doorstep yesterday, this arrived.  Click on the photo to enlarge.

This curd cutter is a work of art!  The attention to detail is second to none.  The wood is very stiff, and I think it may be maple as David mentioned that this was probably a perfect wood for the task.  The cross bars are dowel, and it is screwed and glued together.  The cutting wires are nylon fishing wire and the entire tool is lacquered and solid as a rock.

Thank you so much David, I shall use it during my next cheese making session on Friday and let you know how it goes.  I am over the moon!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Farmhouse Cheddar with Peppercorns - Taste Test

Today I decided to crack open one of the two Farmhouse Cheddars with Peppercorns that I made back in June after 12 weeks of aging.

One point of note with this batch was that after I removed both wheels from their presses, I dried them out for a full week until there was a yellow rind all over the cheese.  I waited until they were totally dry and then I waxed them which you can see in this post.

Here is the cheese label.  It has been maturing in the cheese cave since about 2nd July 2011.

First thing I noticed was that unlike the first Farmhouse cheddar I made there was no liquid under the wax.  I believe that it was the long drying period before waxing that helped prevent liquid build up.

Once the wax was removed, the smell was promising.  It smelt like a mature cheddar.

It cut well and was not crumbly.  The texture was firm, creamy, peppery, and yummy, with no pockets of air within the cheese.

The final verdict from Ben was that it was delicious!  It had a nice creamy peppery flavour, in fact it is one of the best cheddar type cheeses that I have made for a very long time.  I would almost go as far as saying that it was as good as Wensleydale with sage, which is my all time favourite creation.  Especially seeing that it took half the time to make Farmhouse Cheddar (4.5 hours) as it does for Wensleydale (9 hours) and so much less complicated.

No guesses for what I am making on this Friday nights cheese making session!  This cheese has me salivating just writing about it.  I believe I am on a winner here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Quince Paste

Any Cheese maker worth his salt should be able to whip up a few accompaniments for their cheese, so I gave it a go.

I read somewhere that Quince paste was a really good complimentary flavour that goes with most cheeses.  Having never tried it before, it was a bit of a gamble, but one that paid off in the end.  The flavour is sensational, and I would recommend this fruit paste to anyone who is wondering what to do with a few spare quinces.

I found a recipe from and followed it exactly.  It worked fine, except that I added a full cup of water at the start because it looked like it was going to boil dry!  Pretty easy process.  Peel, core, chop, then stew.  After the chopped up quinces turned to mush, I blended them in the food processs whilst hot and then returned the fruit to the pot and added the sugar.

So that I could capture the long 3.5 hour process, I took photos at 15 minute intervals.

Quince Paste 091 Quince Paste 092
Quince Paste 093 Quince Paste 094
Quince Paste 095 Quince Paste 096
Quince Paste 097 Quince Paste 099
Quince Paste 100 Quince Paste 101

I just love the way it changes colour during the cooking process.

Then I lined 6 ramekins with plastic wrap and ladled in the paste, and when it cooled a little, we folded over the wrap to protect it as it set.

I left them on the kitchen counter overnight and we had some for lunch with a piece of ash coated brie and castello white cheese.  Unfortunately, these are not my creations, because of Sustainable House Day preparations, but will be getting stuck into cheesemaking again next week.

The taste was great and it really brought out the flavour of the cheese.  A great accompaniments indeed.  Not quite sure how to store it, but we have it in a sealed container in the fridge.  Hopefully it will store for a while, at least until I get a Caerphilly made and ripened!  I can just taste the sweet and salty together, yummy.

Can anyone help and and let me know if I can freeze Quince Paste?  Comments welcome.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Farmhouse Cheddar

Originally posted on 26 June 2011.

After such an ordinary day at work on Friday, I decided that it would be a great idea to start the weekend off with a bang and make cheese.  I picked up 16 litres of milk on the way home from the train station, kissed Kim, ate dinner, then got stuck into my favourite hobby.  Cheese making!

Now to make things more interesting, and to save time and effort, I have decided to expand production by purchasing a new pot.  Usually, I make a kilogram of cheese from 7.6 litres (1 gallon) of milk, so I bought a 15.1 litre pot so that I could simply double the recipe and make two 1kg rounds in the same time I normally make one, and all in the same pot.

It is a beauty and I picked it up for $15!  The only problem is that whoever made this pot couldn't count.  It only held 14.8 litres of milk and there was no way that I could have fitted in another 300ml.  Anyway, I figured that it would make enough curd to fit in two cheese moulds, which may have been a bit of a problem if I hadn't have purchased an additional cheese press.

I purchased the press from from Green Living Australia and it arrived in 2 days.  Luckily I had planned ahead and ordered it earlier on in the week about the same time I bought the large pot.   The press also came with a 50lb spring, and a 1kg cheese mould and follower.  I was all set.  I sterilised everything in the pot except the plastic stuff, which I put on a 65C wash through the dishwasher, then sprayed with vinegar.

I set up all my ingredients.  This cheese is very simple to make.
Farmhouse Cheddar
recipe for 1kg
7.6 litres full cream milk
1 heaped smidgen (1/32 teaspoon) Mesophillic direct set starter culture
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 60ml cool boiled water
1/2 teaspoon Calcium Chloride diluted in 60ml cool boiled water (if using homogenised milk)
1 tablespoon cheese salt (non-ionised salt)

Then I set up the sink area.  I sprayed the area with vinegar and wiped it all down with a clean dry cloth.

Here is the method:


Heat the milk to 32C (90F).  Add the Calcium Chloride (if necessary).  Add the starter and stir well.  Cover and let milk ripen for 45 minutes.

Add the diluted rennet and stir gently for 1 minute.  Cover and let stand at 32C for 45 minutes or until you get a clean break.

Cut the curd into 1.25cm (1/2 inch) cubes.  Increase the temperature to 38C (100F) slowly, no more than 1 degree for every 5 minutes.  Stir to ensure that the curds do not mat.  This should take about 30 minutes and the curd will shrink a bit.

Cover the pot and let stand for 5 minutes.  Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander, drain for a few minutes then tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot and hang the bag and allow to drain for 1 hour.  The curds need to stay warm so hang at room temperature.

Place the drained curds back in the pot and gently mill into walnut sized pieces.  Mix in the Salt, then pack into lined cheese moulds.

Fold over cheesecloth, top with follower and press at 5kg (10lb) for 10 minutes.  Remove the cheese from the mould, gently remove the cloth and turn, re-wrap, and press for 10kg (20lb) for 10 minutes.  Repeat and press for 25kg (50lb) for 12 hours.

Remove from the mould and air dry the cheese on mats at room temp on a wooden board.  This may take between 2-4 days depending on the season.  Turn the cheese often, at least 4 times a day so that moisture does not collect on the bottom.  When a thin yellow rind has formed, wax the cheese and age at 13C for at least 1 month.  The longer it is left the sharper the taste.


I added pink and green peppercorns to my recipe.  To modify this recipe, add 1 tablespoon of peppercorns (green or pink but not dried black ones) to 1/2 cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain and reserve the water and add the liquid to the milk just before the starter.   At the milling stage, add the peppercorns and mix gently but thoroughly before putting the curds into the mould for pressing.  Press as per the recipe.  I find this adds some zing to this cheese, even though it is wonderful without it.  You will find this has a sharp taste and crumbly texture, which improves with flavour as it ages.

The entire process took about four and a half hours from milk to the last pressing.  Pretty quick for a very tasty cheese.