Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Making Your Own Curd Cutter

My cheese pal, David, who lives in Manitoba, Canada has kindly offered to share the instructions on how to make the cheese curd cutter that he made me.

It was his way of saying thank you for all the cheese making video tutorial that I have made over the last few years.  What a nice bloke!

Anyway, here are his instructions, to which I have added metric measurements.

Making a Cheese Harp (Curd Cutter)

Curd Cutter made for a 8 litre (2 gallon) pot.
David's note:  I have made 3 harps, one stainless steel and two from wood.  The best one is shown here I will describe how I made this one.

The height of the harp is the depth of your cheese making pot PLUS about 4 inches (100 mm).  The width of the harp is half of the diameter of your cheese making pot.  So, if your pot is 10 inches (254 mm) deep and 10 inches across, your harp wants to be 14 inches (355 mm) high and 5 inches (127 mm) wide.

Use a hard close-grained wood such as maple.  Cut two pieces approx 5/8 inch (16 mm) wide x 3/16 (5 mm) thick x your desired total height.  Mark off the max depth of your pot.  Draw a centre line down the length of that part of the wood that will be in the pot.  Drill a 3/16 (5 mm)hole at the end but leaving enough wood at the end so as not to be too weak and to hold a 3/16 dowel.  Then mark off every ½ inch (13 mm) to about 1 inch (25.4 mm) above your curd depth.  Drill 1/16 (1.5 mm) holes at every mark.  Drill one hole in the middle at 3/16 (5 mm) for a second re-enforcing dowel. See photo.

Cut 2 pieces for the handles 25mm x 16mm (1 inch x 5/8 x the half the diameter of your pot MINUS  3/8 inch) 10mm.  Cut two pieces of 5mm (3/16 inch) dowel x half the diameter of your pot.

Mix up some 2-part epoxy glue and glue the wooden parts together.  Use a clamp or an elastic band to hold the handle end in place while the glue sets.  Lay it on wax paper on a flat surface and make sure the long side pieces are parallel.  When the glue has dried, some very small round-headed screws (eg ½ inch x 1/16) into the handle pieces will give added strength.  Pre-drill the screw holes to avoid splitting the wood.  You can just see these screws on the bottom of the photo.

Thoroughly sand everything down and while doing it round off the end and all the corners.  Pay particular attention to the long pieces that will be in the curd as these will in effect be cutting as well.

Now thread nylon fishing line back and forth through the holes.  Tie off at the bottom and, working from bottom to top, pull tight and finally tie off at the top.  Use fisherman’s non-slip knots.

Mix a quantity of 2-part epoxy glue and thin it down with a little methyl hydrate (alcohol) and brush it all over.  If you can get the glue to fill the holes where the nylon line goes through, that is good because it will prevent pieces of curd getting stuck in there.  When it is dry, very lightly sand down the wood with very fine sandpaper (eg 400 grit) – be careful not to sand the nylon – and give it a second coat.  The glue will seal the knots in the nylon and help to prevent them coming undone.

Note:  2-part epoxy is usually considered ‘food safe’ though no guarantees are implied here with your brand of epoxy.

Gavin's note:  David does not take orders, which is why he gave me permission to post these instructions so that you can make your own curd cutter.



I have used this curd cutter many times now, and David even sent me on for my 14 litre pot, which is a little larger.  To clean it before and after use, I wash it with a weak bleach solution (1 capful to 1 litre of water) then rinse again with clean water afterwards.

It is a great tool, worthy of construction and use by the home cheese maker.

Best of luck with your construction project.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Stilton Testimonial

If anyone is wondering if the recipes that I post actually get results if you follow them, then this post is for you.

The other day I received two delightful email from one of my readers, Chris who writes about a Stilton cheese that was made following my recipe and video tutorial.

Here is Chris' first email;

Hello Gavin
The attached photos are of my first attempt at "Stilton", the result was superb, I took some to a dinner down in Tasmania, the host served two 'blues' after dinner, my "Stilton" and a top King Island, initially some guests were reluctant to try the home-made  but at the end of the night the only cheese left was half the King Island ! I like it so much #2 is in the cave, #3 will be made this week-end.

I recently bought a cheese trier from www.thecheesemaker.com delivered in 11 days and half the price charged locally.

I have watched all your videos, they have been most helpful, so far I have made Parmesan, Camembert,  Cheddar (farmhouse and normal), Wensleydale,  Stilton and Ricotta, not one failure. The cheese cave is a full size ‘fridge fitted with a $50 external thermostat from Jaycar. 
Chris' Stilton.  Looks delicious!

Here is the second email

I had read a couple of books on cheese making before I discovered your site, the videos were really helpful, if a picture is worth a thousand words a video must be billions !

My cave really works well, I have it set for a temp. range of 12-14°C at the moment, even though it is in a shed, when the shade temp here was 45.5°C it held at 13.5°C.  I am afraid my last email said I bought the external thermostat from Jaycar, my mistake, I bought it from mashmaster, see http://www.mashmaster.com.au/p/365439/fridgemate-mkii-digital-temperature-controller-kit.html
My blue cheeses all age at the above temp, I like a strong cheese, so 4 months is right for the Stilton, I tried the one in the cave last week at 3 months it is still a bit mild. One thing with making Stilton, I drain in a cheese cloth but don’t line the mould with cloth, the cheese comes out much smoother and is easier to dress before aging.

Cheers

Chris
The Stilton enjoyed with a nice glass of red wine.  
Here is my reply;

Hi Chris,

Great result. I often wonder if people can replicate my results by watching my video tutorials, and you have just confirmed that you can!

That is great news about your Stilton. I really need to get my cheese cave sorted out. I am thinking of converting an old bar fridge with a similar external thermometer.

Kind regards,

Gavin

Thanks for the big vote of confidence Chris.  It makes producing this cheese blog all the more worthwhile when I receive a testimonial like that! I love that you have tried to make so many different types of cheese, all from watching my video tutorials.

I didn't really know how much the videos helped, so now I do!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Italian Bag Cheese

If you want to make something different, give Italian Bag Cheese a try.  This cheese is made in a most unusual manner, but it tastes great all the same.

I had never heard of it until I stumbled upon it in a cheese making book titled "Homemade Cheese - Recipes for 50 Cheeses from Artisan Cheesemakers" by Janet Hurst.

Janet adapted it from a recipe by Giuseppe Licitra, Ph.D., Research Consortium dairy industry, Ragusa, Sicily!  Truly Italian.

Now the only problem that I had was that some of the instructions were missing, so having a little bit of experience under my belt, I ended up with a nice firm cheese and further adapted the recipe.  Here is my version of this cheese.

(Note; The original recipe called for Mesophilic MM101 culture which is also known as Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis + Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris + Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis var. diacetylactis.  I know that this is a little more technical than my posts usually are however this type of Mesophilic culture is a moderate acidifier with some gas and high diacetyl production.  Diacetyl, is a fermentation compound which contributes a desirable buttery aroma to a cheese; Gas production: refers to cultures which produce CO2.

If you do have Mesophilic MM100 or MM101 on hand, then use it instead for a less acidic and more buttery flavour.  I chose to use Mesophilic MO 030 (or MA) starter culture which is a moderate/high acidifier with no gas or diacetyl production, because that was all I had.)

Italian Bag Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 litres (1 gallon) full cream cows milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride mixed with 1/4 cup (60ml) nonchlorinated water if using homogenised milk.
  • 1/8th teaspoon, (or a heaped smidgen) Mesophilic direct set culture type MM100/MM101 
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted with 1/4 cup (60ml) nonchlorinated water
You will also need;
  • Fully Saturated Brine (500 gm non-ionised salt to 2 litres (2 quarts) lukewarm water).  this is a very salty brine!  Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to stabilise the brine.


Method;

Add milk to stainless steel pot.  


If using homogenised milk, add calcium chloride solution.


 Heat milk to 30°C (86°F).


Add the direct set culture and stir top to bottom for 30 seconds.  Add the rennet solution, and stir thoroughly for one minute, with a top to bottom motion. 


Cover pot, and wait for 45 minutes or until you achieve a clean break.


Using a curd cutter, or flat knife,


Cut the curds into 13 mm (1/2 inch) cubes.  Do not stir or rest.


Line a colander with cheese cloth (double folded) or butter muslin,


and ladle the curds into the cloth.  Ensure that you put a pot under the colander as you need to save the whey for later on.


Gather the corners of the cheese cloth and form a bag.


Hang the bag over the whey pot and drain for 30 minutes.


Once the 30 minutes is complete, untie the bag, where you will find a ball shape.


Carefully turn it over, top to bottom trying to encourage development of the round shape.  I failed.

Retie the bag.


Hang and let drain for 1 hour.


After the 1 hour has elapsed, tie the bag tighter leaving no visible holes.  Place the curd bag into the original pot, pour in the whey.


Bring the temperature up to 88°C (190°F), which will take about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the curd bag in the whey until it is cool.  This will take about 5 hours to get back to room temperature.


Once the whey is at room temperature, remove the curd bag from the whey and hang for two hours or until the whey has stopped dripping.


Remove the cheese from the bag.  It will be very firm.


Place the cheese ball in the fully saturated brine.


Make sure that it stays submerged.  Cover and leave for 2 hours.


Remove from the brine (keep the brine for other cheeses).  You can eat this cheese fresh or let air dry for 4 hours and then refrigerate in an airtight container.


This cheese will keep for up to two weeks in the refigerator.

Now, I know that it doesn't look like much, but this unique fresh cheese is very salty and has a tight texture a bit like mozzarella when refrigerated.  It tastes fantastic with freshly picked, home-grown, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, with a basil leaf on top.  It is a nice alternative to mozzarella made in the traditional way.

It is also delicious if it is heated up a little, and does melt when grilled.  It would be a nice addition to a home made pizza.

I believe that if I had have used MM culture, I dare say it would taste a little different with less acidity and a more buttery flavour.  When I next order some cultures, I will try to make this cheese again.  Even so, it does taste good.

Who knows, I might even make a video tutorial!