Cheese making can be daunting and confusing when you first start out. I know that it was for me, but I found that by taking a basic cheese making course before I made any type of cheese really helped me learn enough to get started in this hobby.
I realise that many people do not have the opportunity to attend a class, so this is the main reason why I offer to answer readers questions as best I can.
Today's question comes from Nadim in the UK, who has lots of questions about starting out on his cheese making journey.
Hi GavinGood questions Nadim. I will answer your questions in respect to making Parmesan cheese.
I am Nadim from UK, i recently seen you web blog and it is extremely help for home-made cheese maker, I am fan of cheese but when tried at home cheese making, but after looking at you blog, you have now inspired me to make it at home!, I want to try either with parmesan or cheddar, but I am stuck with few question, if you please could help me with this then I shall highly appreciate.
As this shall be my first time so i was thinking if it is possible I make cheese in small wheel, probably 300 g - 500 g..? or it has to be in minimum 1 kg wheel..?
I am currently living in share house, so i wont be able to buy wine fridge, do you think if I can store cheese in wooden box in my balcony for aging ..? or any other recommendation ..? I have read somewhere that normal kitchen fridge would not be suitable due to its lower temperature,bacteria contamination and moisture..
Also could you please tell me what would be minimum best time to try the cheese..? 9 months is bit long time, not sure if I would be patient enough to wait this long after making my first cheese!!
last but important, do I need to rotate and wipe out cheese every week even after waxing.? what if I wax it after removing from brine water and drying out..?
looking forward to hear from you soon. thanks
|The wheel on the left is a 3 week old Parmesan before waxing. The other is a Caerphilly.|
Maturation Temperature - It doesn't really matter how you keep your cheese at 13°C as long as you can maintain it over the long aging period of 9 months minimum. Some people use basements, some use insulated boxes, some just use a cupboard lined with greaseproof paper. It doesn't matter how, as long as you keep the cheese at the target temperature.
Aging time - For a 1 kg wheel of Parmesan, the minimum time before trying would be 9 months. The longer the better really. In the last week, I tried a two-year-old Parmesan, and it was extremely tasty, much better than one aged for only a year. If you want to make a cheese that is full of flavour and has a short maturation time, try a Caerphilly. I highly recommend this semi-hard cheese for beginners, which is very tasty.
Waxing - If you do decide to make Parmesan, then for this sized wheel I highly recommend that you wax the cheese after 3 weeks of aging. Normal wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano weigh about 38 kg when fully mature and are able to maintain their moisture content. For a much smaller wheel like the one in my recipe, you need to wax the cheese so that it does not dry out whilst aging.
During the initial 3 weeks without the wax, wipe the surface with a brine solution daily to prevent/inhibit mould growth. The cheese needs this 3 week period without wax to dry out a little, otherwise if you wax it straight after brining and air drying, it would be far too moist and whey will collect between the cheese and the wax, ruining the flavour of the Parmesan. After waxing you do not need to do this as the wax coating prevents oxygen from reaching the cheese which does not allow the mould to develop.
Summary - Hopefully this post has been informative to all beginners as they take their first steps towards milk's immortal!
For all readers, let me know via a comment if you would like more of these types of post. I would love some feedback, good or otherwise.