I’ve been making cheese flavoured with herbs and spices since way back in 2009. I find that a good cheese becomes a great one with the addition of a few simple herbs and spices. Here are a few examples.
Here is a Wensleydale with Sage that I recently made.
All I do is pick some Sage from the garden, dry it on a tray in the oven at 120°C (230°F) for 5 minutes. They shrivel a little, but you only spread a single layer once you put in half the milled curds into your mould. The flavour that it imparts to the cheese is amazing. Here is the finished product.
Another of my favourites is Pyrenees with green peppercorns. All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of green peppercorns to half a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the water, cool it down, and add it to the milk before the culture. Add the peppercorns during milling or before putting the curds in the mould.
The cheese has a sharp flavour enhanced by the soft green peppercorns.
If you like chilli, then Pepper Jack is another spicy cheese you could try. Same method as Monterey Jack, but add 1 teaspoon of dry chilli flakes to half a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Add water before culture and chilli flakes at milling.
This cheese goes great with crackers and an ice-cold Cerveza!
Lastly my all time favourite, Farmhouse Cheddar with red peppercorns. I used the Farmhouse Cheddar recipe from Ricki Carroll’s Home cheese making book and added red peppercorns as per my normal method.
The combination was simply fantastic and is a great match with a glass of red wine.
This Friday, I will be attempting a variation on the Farmhouse Cheddar, this time with cumin seeds. Same method of preparation, same Farmhouse Cheddar recipe. I have tasted Edam with cumin before and was very impressed. I think I will only add a teaspoon of seeds to the water, as I don’t want the flavour to be too overbearing. I will report back after the taste test in a few months!
So, in conclusion, the addition of extra ingredients can literally spice up your cheese and add that certain something that you may have been craving for. I highly recommend giving herbs and spices a try in your cheese. You will thank yourself for it!