“Romano cheese is a type of cheese that is known for being very hard, salty and sharp. It is usually grated. It is different from normal cheeses because it requires more milk per pound, most water being lost in the creation process.
There are different types of romano cheese. True romano cheese is made from sheep’s milk, pecorino romano or goat’s milk (caprino romano), though mass produced versions, as in the United States, are often made from cow’s milk (vacchino romano). Pecorino romano is sharp and tangy. Caprino romano, the goat’s milk version, has an extremely sharp taste. Vacchino romano is very mild in taste. Most of the romano cheeses made in the United States are made from cow’s milk or with a mix of cow’s milk and either sheep or goat milk.”
So, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a Parmesan then Romano should be your cheese of choice to make, and of course that it goes great with most pasta dishes. In the shops it is sometimes sold as Pecorino Romano, which is vacuum packed to make it all the way from Italy to Australia and also very expensive. Think of all those food miles!
Anyway, here is my method that I adapted out of the book “Making Artisan Cheese” by Tim Smith.
I found that Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company now sell Jersey Milk via supermarkets. I bought 8 litres because the milk is much creamier and higher in butter fat (4%) than the normal milk you can buy (3.1-3.4%). This makes for a much fuller and richer cheese, so I reduced the amount of milk by one litre down from the normal 8 that I normally use. This is because if I used 8 litres the curds would not fit in the cheese mould after cooking them.
- 7 litres whole milk (Jersey Milk) or 8 litres of full cream milk 3.4% butterfat
- 1/8 teaspoon Thermophilic culture
- 1/4 teaspoon Lipase dissolved in 60ml cool boiled water
- 2.5ml liquid vegetable rennet diluted in 60ml cool boiled water
- 2.5ml calcium chloride diluted in 60ml cool boiled water (omit if using un-homogenised milk)
Sterilize all equipment.
Heat milk to 33C (90F), stir in the calcium chloride if required. Add starter culture, stir, then add the diluted lipase. Cover, and let milk ripen for 15 minutes.
Maintaining the target temperature of 33C, add the diluted rennet whilst stirring for two minutes. Cover and let sit for 40 minutes, or until you have a clean break.
Once you have a clean break, cut the curds into 6mm cubes (1/4″). Let the curds rest for 10 minutes at the target temp.
Slowly heat the curds to 46C (115F), which took about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently, with a whisk. When you reach the target temp, maintain for another 45 minutes, continuously stirring (sore arms) to prevent matting of the curds.
Drain through a cheese cloth lined colander. Keep the whey for your animals if you like or set aside for baking!
Pour the curds into a 1kg (2lbs) cheese cloth lined mold. Cover the top with the excess cloth, top with the follower, and press at 5kg (10lbs) for 30 minutes.
Remove from the press, unwrap (be gentle), turn over the cheese, re wrap and press at 11kg (25lb) for 3 hours. Repeat procedure, pressing at 20kg (40lb) for 12 hours. Repeat again, pressing at 9kg (20lb) for 12 hours.
Remove the cheese from the mold, and unwrap and immerse the cheese in the brine solution. Flip the cheese every 6 hours and let it sit in the brine for 24 hours at room temp approx 21C (70F).
Take the cheese out of the brine, pat dry, and place in the cheese fridge at 13C (55F) at 80-85% humidity for 10 months (shorter if you like).
Turn the cheese daily for the first three week of aging, and weekly thereafter. Remove any mould that forms on the exterior with a clean cloth and brine solution.
After 1 month, rub the cheese in olive oil to keep it from drying out, and again after a week. Repeat oiling every month until maturity. You can also skip the oil and wax if you like.
In the picture below, I am only up to the last pressing, but have a look how yellow this cheese is already.
I have never had a Romano cheese this yellow at this stage of its life. I did notice that the milk was certainly not a white as normal milk, and more like a off-white to yellow colour. Also with this milk, the curd set stronger than I have ever seen. The clean break test was very positive with a nice solid curd. I am looking forward to full maturity and don’t know if I can wait for the entire 10 months 😉
This cheese is still in the cheese fridge and matures in October 2011, however I made some last year, and it had a comparable taste to a mild Parmesan, with more body.
I highly recommend this cheese for anyone looking for a tasty slicing and grating cheese that will accompany any Italian meal!