Farmhouse Pepper Blue

Make no mistake, I must have a gift.  My cheese disasters seem to turn into fantastic creations!

Quite a while back in September 2011, I made two wheels of Farmhouse Cheddar with Peppercorns.  Kim and I opened one, shared half with friends and I wrapped the other half in cling wrap and put it into my big cheese box in the normal fridge at 4C.  I sold the other wheel to one of Kim’s friends, who loved it.

To my surprise, when I opened the cheese box on Sunday, 5th Feb, the half was still in there.  It was now over 6 months old, and still in the plastic wrap.  However something wonderful had happened.  Somewhere along the line, this cheese had become inoculated with penicillium roqueforti, and had grown blue mould.  I believe that I did have some Stilton open in the same cheese box, so it must have passed the mould on.  I was a bit dubious at first, but had a smell, and it did not smell off, just blue.  So here is the verdict:

Texture:  Now I wasn’t sure how this cheese would taste, because when it was a Farmhouse cheddar it was sharp and very crumbly.  I didn’t know how far the mould had penetrated the cheese as I had not pieced any holes in it as I would when making a blue or Stilton.  The crumbliness had gone, which had developed into a rich creamy texture that was easy to cut.

Development: Once I cut it in half, there was indeed some marbling in the top half.  As the Farmhouse cheddar had been so crumbly, there were air gaps and cracks in the top when I first put it into the fridge after de-waxing.  These gaps had helped the blue mould seep deep into the cheese, enhancing the flavour.

Taste: So then I had a taste.  OMG, it blew my mind.  This was a wonderful cheese.  The cheese was no longer sharp, but had a smooth creaminess to it, with a mild blue taste.  Then the pepper hits your palette to add to the complexity.

I have never tasted anything quite like it.  I am so pleased with this serendipitous discovery.  I wonder if I can make it again?  I might make it exactly the same, but spray it with some blue mould after two months normal maturation in the cheese fridge, wrap it up and store it in the normal fridge at 4C for another four months.  I think I will pierce it a few times to help the mould develop inside just in case.

As I have said before, cheese making is more art than science.  What a fluke!

Comments

  1. says

    I am only beginning my cheesemaking journey but everything I read of yours makes me want to jump ahead to when I can make something like this (even by accident)!

  2. says

    I love when this kind of happy accidents occur. I hope you'll be able to replicate the cheese. That is usually tricky about happy accidents.

  3. says

    HI Gavin.
    I am totally new to this but have been reading your blogs and seeing your videos all day (don't tell my husband!).

    My question is this: This new place we moved to only has an electric stove-which I despise, and I wondered if using a double boiler will help me control the temp like turning off the flame would? or is using an electric stove a recipe for disaster?

    Thanks for the great lessons, I feel like a pro already!
    Kenzie in Idaho

    • says

      Hi Kenzie, Thanks for dropping by the blog.

      As for the electric stove, it should work, but you may have to turn off the element about 5 degrees earlier before you hit the target temp. Just experiment with it a little, and I am sure you will figure out a way to keep it fairly stable.

      Gav x

  4. says

    Hi Gav,

    Were you in my cheese fridge? Funny coincidence, I opened my cheese fridge and experienced the same thing that you did. About a month ago I tucked away a small 1/4 wheel of cheddar cheese that I made along with some store bought Gorgonzola. Last evening I decided to melt some of the cheddar onto a soft pretzel. When I opened the cheddar I noticed that blue mold had permeated all of the slight cracks. At first I was going to scrape the mold off but then I thought of your story. Is all blue mold safe to eat? How can I tell if the mold came from the Gorgonzola wedge? Next, I opened the wrapped piece of Gorgonzola and found that the texture was much creamier that it was when I purchased it. I also noticed that at the bottom of the cheese on the wrapper was a very creamy liquidy whey that had drained from the cheese. Not only did the cheese have blue mold in it but there were small pockets of a yellowish liquidy mold in it too. I tasted it and it was phenomenal. Is this normal with Gorgonzola cheese because I would usually only buy blue cheese until I just started making my own. Thanks for letting me share this with you, I'm trying to get a couple of photos posted. —-naplesfrank3@aol.com

    • says

      Hi Frank,

      Great discovery! To answer your questions, I believe that most blue moulds are safe, and it is the black mould that you should avoid. If the blue mould was the same colour on both cheeses, it would be a pretty good indication that it cross inoculated.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Gav

    • says

      Hi Kate, yes I did. I added about 1/32nd of a teaspoon of P. Roqueforti as the same time as the starter culture. I also pierced about 10 holes through the cheese after pressing. It worked a treat.

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