Bel Paese, meaning ‘beautiful country’ in Italian, is a semi-soft cheese from the Lombardy region. It was formulated by Egidio Galbani in 1906 who wanted to invent a product that would compete with French Alpine cheeses.
Bel Paese has a milky aroma infused with a mild buttery flavour. The taste can be compared with Mozzarella and St. Paulin. The cheese is hard to spread but soft enough to slice. It is wrapped in a waxed, foil or plastic rind.
Bel Paese Recipe
Makes about a 1.2 kg wheel of cheese.
- 8 Litres (8 qt) Full Cream Cow’s Milk, preferably pasteurised/unhomogenised.
- ¼ teaspoon (Tad) Thermophilic Culture (MOT92)
- 2.5 ml (½ tsp) Calcium Chloride in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water
- 2.5 ml ½ tsp) Liquid Rennet in ¼ cup non-chlorinate water
- Saturated Brine solution 18%
- 165 mm Cheese basket
- Cheese drying mat or Bamboo mat
- Ripening Box
- Dairy Thermometer
- Stainless Steel Ladle
- Stainless Steel Stirring Spoon
- Mini measuring spoons (for cultures)
- Sanitise all of your equipment.
- Heat milk to 42°C/108°F. Turn off heat.
- Sprinkle Thermophilic starter culture over the surface of the milk and allow to rehydrate for a few minutes. Stir culture through milk using an up and down motion for 1 minute.
- Add Calcium Chloride and mix thoroughly.
- Add Rennet solution and stir for 1 minute. Cover and allow to set for 30 minutes.
- Check for a clean break. If necessary, wait another 10-15 minutes then test again.
Cutting the Curd
- Cut the curd into 0.9 cm/ 3/8 inch cubes. Allow curds to rest for 5 minutes to heal. Gently stir for 30 minutes.
- Let curds stand for another 5 minutes. They should sink to the bottom of the pot.
- Using a sieve and ladle, remove whey down to the level of the curd. Gently stir the curd for a few minutes to break up the curd mass.
Pressing and Brining the Cheese
- Ladle the curds into the basket/mould. Place the lid/follower on the top of the curds. You will not need a cheesecloth.
- Let drain for 6-7 hours, turning hourly. This cheese does not need a cheese press and forms using its own weight.
- Take out the cheese from basket/mould and place in the brine solution for 7 hours, flipping at the 3-hour mark.
Air Drying and Maturation
- Remove from the brine solution and pat dry with a lint-free cloth. Place on a cheese mat in the ripening box and ripen at 4°C/42°F and 80-90% humidity. The kitchen fridge will be fine for this cheese.
- Turn the cheese every second day, removing any collected whey and wipe the box dry with paper towel.
- After about 10 days, the cheese will feel slimy to touch. Wash the cheese twice weekly with a cloth dipped in the brine solution to keep the rind clean.
- After 3 weeks, remove cheese from the ripening box and clean with brine solution and then dry thoroughly.
- Eat and enjoy! You can wrap the cheese in foil to store in the refrigerator.
This Italian cheese goes well with fruits like apples, pears and figs. As it has a good melting capacity, it is often used in casseroles, hot Panini, focaccia or on a pizza. It can be eaten with fruity wines, such as dry red or white.
I found Bel Paese to be quite a surprisingly creamy, yet firm cheese that delighted my palate. It’s now a house favourite.
You can pick up supplies for Bel Paese at our shop https://www.littlegreenworkshops.com.au. I recommend the Italian Cheese Kit for newbie curd nerds as it contains most things you need to make this cheese.