Cheese can be a funny thing. Of late, I have made a few mistakes, which have come good in the end. This example of a poorly executed Parmesan is no exception.
I was performing a cheese muster on the weekend to make sure that everything was okay in there after a bit of hot weather, and was curious about this cheese in particular. Over time it had swollen and started to dry out, even though it had another month to mature.
So without the benefit of a cheese trier, I had to cut this wheel in half. I had a bit of a shock when I did open it, as it looked like an Emmental on steriods. It was also very dry and hard to cut.
I did what any good cheesemaker would do, and decided to save the cheese by grating it. Because it was so hard, it took just under an hour to grate just half of it, but it was definately worthwhile in the end. The taste was not as strong as my normal parmesan would be, partly because of the dryness and lack of maturity.
To be frank, it was like a rock, and turned into very fine gratings. The inside was a little more moist, however the outside just powered. It reminds me of that underwhelming grated Parmesan that you can buy in the shops made by Kraft! At least my version is made to the traditional recipe and not processed.
I have thought about why this poor Parmesan among many that I have made, turned into Mr Bloaty. Here is the conclusion that I have come to;
a. Not left in the brine long enough.
b. Brine not salty enough, therefore allowing the culture to continue working
c. The milk quality was not premium and was bog standard shop bought milk
d. It was far to warm when drying at room temp for a few days.
e. I oiled it instead of waxing it.
So these five factors contributed to an extremely hard and bloated Parmesan cheese. It pays to buy good milk from a non-industrial source, and ensure that your brine is strong enough so that it retards additional, unwanted culture activity.
We all live and learn and at least I managed to save it. It made the best Basil Pesto!