Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cheese Fridge Tips

Most semi-hard and hard cheeses need a constant temperature of between 10-14°C in which to mature correctly.


This is the subject of today's reader email.  Sandra wants some information about cheese (aka wine) fridge issues.

Hi Gavin,

Could you please tell me the Brand of Wine Fridge you purchased for your Cheeses?

Have you had any problems with the thermostat in it holding a constant temperature – summer and winter?

I have been having lots of problems with the Tempo 16 Bottle Wine Fridge I bought. I am on my second Tempo Wine Fridge in two years. After 6 months the thermostats start floating all over the place – mostly too hot – hence ruining my cheeses.

I mostly make Camembert, Blues, Farmers and Swiss cheeses.

I would appreciate your help.
Sandra 
Well firstly, thank you Sandra for your email.  I enjoy answering each and every one of them from my readers.

The model of my cheese fridge is a 28 bottle wine fridge, similar to yours.  It is made by PAVO (I have no association with this company).  I have no idea if it is good, bad, or otherwise.  It has worked tirelessly for the 3.5 years that I have owned it.

That said, I have discovered some interesting things about how to maintain the temperature of these devices.  They are not really fridges at all, and do not employ normal refrigeration techniques.  This type of fridge is a thermoelectric wine cooler and only uses 70 watts.

These type of fridges need a room temperature of below 75°F to function correctly.  They also need adequate ventilation, and lots of room behind it so that it works effectively.  My cheese fridge has about 30 cm (1 ft) clearance all around the sides and back.  It is also located away from any heat sources like other fridges, ovens, stoves, etc.

I also keep a remote temperature and relative humidity sensor inside the fridge, just to keep an eye on it when I am at my desk.

The final tip is about humidity.  These sorts of fridges normally keep the air inside at about 40-50%  RH, which is far too low for cheese making.  I have found that by filling a 4 litre plastic tub with water and placing on the floor of the fridge, it brings the humidity up to about 75%RH.  This is still a bit low for most cheese, so I keep blue and mould cheese in a separate container to ripen which ensures a much higher humidity.

I can ripen cheese like Caerphilly and Farmhouse for the first month, then wax them before they split.

You can also repurpose an old kitchen refrigerator using an external thermometer device.  A long time reader sent me through this information.
Hi Gavin

I don't know if you're familiar, but there is an item that can transform a normal fridge to a cheese cave level. I've read blogs from people here in the US who use them and they say they work well. I haven't read enough of your blog to know If you've seen them before, if so I'm sorry, but I thought if not, you might be interested. I got this off of the Cheesemaker.com website:

JC Thermostat
Turn your refrigerator or freezer into a cheese cave.

This thermostat makes it easy to convert your refridgerator or freezer into a 'cheese cave'. Just plug the thermostat into your wall socket. Then plug your freezer or refridgerator into the thermostat and adjust the thermostat anywhere from 20-80f degrees.(6.6 to 26.6c).Accuracy: +or- one degree F. 110-120V AC. UL listed. This thermostat does not work with 220v.

I've attached the picture that went with the description in the attachment. Perhaps you can locate it's Australian equivalent and share it with your readers. Thanks again. Look forward to reading more of your blog!

Sharon
Here is a picture of the thermostat.




Hopefully, I have given you and all other readers enough information to make your cheese maturation a reality with one of these fridges.

If anyone else has any other tips for maintaining the correct temperature in your repurposed wine fridge, please leave a comment.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Drunken Cow Cheese - Recipe

Drunken Cow Cheese is now a favourite.  I shared some with friends the other day, and they sung the praises of this delicious cheese.


So how do you make it?

Well let me share a modified recipe from Tim Smith's Making Artisan Cheese.  His Spanish recipe titled Cabra Al Vino calls for goats milk and doesn't specify what type of red wine to bath the pressed cheese in, so let me be a little more specific.  The fancy Italian name for this cheese would be Formaggio Ubriaco (Drunken Cheese).


Drunken Cow Cheese

Ingredients
  • 8 litres (2 gallons) full cream cows milk
  • 1/8th teaspoon Mesophilic direct set culture
  • 1/8th teaspoon Calcium Chloride diluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
  • 1 Tablespoon cheese salt
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) water, heated to 80°C (175°F)

1.5 L (1.5 quarts) Sweet Red wine (like dark Lambrusco or a darker Crimson Cabernet), enough to cover cheese after pressing

Method

This is a washed curd cheese, which lowers final acidity.

Pour milk in 10 litre stainless steel pot.
Add diluted calcium chloride, stir well.  Heat the cows milk to 32°C (90°F), and stir in diluted starter culture, cover, and ripen for 10 minutes.
Maintaining the target temp of 32°C, add diluted rennet and stir for one minute.  Cover and let set for one hour at target temperature.


Check for a clean break.  Once you have a clean break, cut curds into 1 cm (1/2") cubes.  Stir gently for one minute, then let curds rest for five minutes at target temperature.
With a sterilized measuring cup, draw off one-third of the whey.  Gradually add the heated water, and stir to bring the temperature of the curds up to 33°C (92°F).  This will take around two and a half cups of heated water.  Stir continuously to keep the curds from matting at the bottom of the pot. 
Once you reach the new target temp, let the curds rest for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain off the whey to the level of the curds using your sterilized cup.  Continue to add the 80°C (175°F) water, stirring constantly until the temperature of the curds reaches 38°C (100°F).  
Maintain the target temperature for fifteen minutes, stirring to prevent matting.  Let the curds sit in the pot for thirty minutes at 38°C (100°F).

Draining/Pressing
Strain off the whey using a cheesecloth.  Pour the curds back into the pot, and mill into 6 mm (1/4") pieces.  Blend in the salt.
Pack the curds into a 900 gm (2lbs) lined mould.  Cover the curds with one corner of the cheese cloth, apply the follower, and press at 10kg (20lbs) for twenty minutes.  Remove cheese from press, and gently unwrap.  Turn cheese over, rewrap, and press at 10kg (20lbs) for twenty hours.  Repeat by turning over again and press at 10kg (20lbs) for twelve hours.


Bathing
Remove cheese from the press and mould, skewer about 10 holes about half way through the cheese on each end, then bathe the cheese in a sterilized food grade plastic container in the red wine for 24 hours.  Ensure the cheese is completely covered and flip end-over-end at the 12 hour mark.  Remove the cheese, lay on cheese mat (or sushi mats) for about six hours, or until it is dry to touch.  Repeat the wine bath for another 24 hours, topping up with additional wine if necessary, flip again at the 12 hour mark.  Remove, and dry on mats until touch dry.

Maturation
Store the cheese in your cheese fridge at 11°C (52F) and 80-85% humidity for three months.  If you cannot maintain humidity, wax the cheese before it cracks.
Turn cheese daily for the first two weeks, and wipe down with a brine solution if mould forms on the surface.



As I mentioned in the review for this cheese, it is delicious.  Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!


I love this cheese!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Drunken Cow - The Verdict

The Drunken Cow cheese has matured, so it is time for a taste test.

This cheese was made on the 3rd of August 2012 from 3.8% butterfat full cream milk.


De-waxing: Slight swelling of the wax.  There was a little moisture under the wax, with clear sweet liquid running out after the seal was broken.  It was not sour. I had to dry the outside of the cheese with paper towel.   The colour of the rind had faded slightly, but still very distinct.  When lightly pressed, liquid came out of the crack in the top of the round.  At this stage I was a bit worried.


Texture:  Easy to cut, and not flaky.  Very slight marbling from the wine, with clear sweet liquid within the cheese structure.  Layered lines throughout the cheese.  Cheese smooth and soft and very moist.


Taste:  I tried it by itself, and the flavour blew me away!  You could smell the sweet wine on the rind, and the cheese was smooth on the pallet.  A bit like Gouda, but finishes in the mouth with a sweet, slightly sugary after-taste.  The rind was sweeter but harder, and the centre was soft and smooth.

An absolutely delightful cheese, with an exciting flavour.  Unlike any other cheese I have tasted before.  The washed curds technique really tempered down the final acidity and sharpness.

Given the addition of 1.5 litres of sweet red wine to marinate this cheese in, it pushes the cost of this cheese up quite a bit, compared to a normal hard cheese.  However, it is well worth it as it really improves the final flavour.

I highly recommend the cheese for a moderately experienced home cheese maker.  As it matures in only three months, it is a relatively quick cheese to make, and well worth the wait.  This cheese will really impress your friends and family!

I will publish the recipe in the next post.

[Cross posted on The Greening of Gavin]

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Cheese from Manitoba Canada


A couple of days ago, I received an email from David, my cheese making buddy over in Manitoba, Canada.  He writes;

A pile of David's cheese!

Hi Gavin
As one of your YouTube students I thought you might like to see the product of my efforts from yesterday. 
I always make a double batch - i.e. two pots at the same time, each with 8+ litres of milk. I set the pots one in each side of my double kitchen sink which I fill with hot water from the tap to raise the temperature of the milk, both for the initial temp for adding the starter and then to raise again to cooking temp.  
I made 2 presses and two moulds, the moulds being jugs with the top & bottom cut off, and drilled with lots of holes.  
 Each batch is usually a 50/50 mixture of 3.25% homogenised milk from the store and fresh unpasteurised farm milk, to which I add ¼ tsp of Calcium Chloride. 
This time I used a starter called Kazu which contains Lactococcus Lactis, Cremoris, diacetylactis and Bulgaricus, though whether it will make any difference in the flavour time will tell.
With much appreciation for all your tutorials
David Dawson
Great email David, but there is just one thing that I am in the dark about.  What type of cheese is it?

Keep up the great work.

Now if anyone else has had success with any of the recipes that I have posted, I would love to hear about them.  Send them through to gavin at littlegreencheese.com

Until next time.