Monday, August 29, 2011

Experiment or Mistake: You Decide

Back in June/July, I wanted to make a Stilton style blue cheese.  I had the premeasured packets for both Brie and blue from my local supply guy in the freezer.  So I got everything together, put it all out on the counter, sterilzed everything, and rechecked to make sure I had the right packet for blue cheese.  I used the recipe that came with my first kit, following every instruction to the letter.  It looked good going into the mold and the press.  I was excited!  But this would be a test of my patience.  Blue cheese takes longer to age in order to develop the full sharpness.  By now, I had my new wine refrigerator to control the temperature of the aging steps.  I was ready!

A couple weeks had gone by and no blue penicillin mold was growing on the cheese.  Instead, it was covered in a white mold identical to Camembert/Brie.  By now I had washed the surface several times with a salt solution like you are supposed to for a Stilton, and I was concerned.  So, I rechecked my supplies.  What did I find?  I was down one packet of Camembert/Brie, and had all of my blue cheese LAB/mold cultures.  I had used the mold cultures for Brie but had followed the instructions for Stilton blue cheese. 

I was tempted to toss the mistake at first.  Who knows what the heck I would get and I wasn't sure I wanted to find out.  But something in me decided that it may not be the best cheese, but it would probably be safe to eat.  So I waited.

A couple weeks ago, I cut into one of the rounds to try it.  Here's a picture of it:

The texture is somewhere softer than a Stilton, but not creamy like a Brie, even at room temperature.  The flavor is sharp, but with undertones of a Brie.  As you can see, there are areas inside the cheese with penicillium candidum blooming instead of penicillium roquforti (white instead of blue).  The sharpness is not quite that of a Stilton.  The rind is very thin and almost not noticeable.  Our family really likes it.  My friends say I should name the "new"cheese I came up with.  I think I'll wait and try making it again.  I did take notes when I prepared it, so I should first see if I can replicate it before naming it.  If anyone has a suggestion for the name of my mistake, I'll gladly entertain them.

So you decide.  Was this a mistake or an experiment?  I say, it was a mistake that turned into an experiment.  In either case, it had a happy ending.  And it does prove a point.  As long as your "mistake" isn't from contamination, wait and see what it turns into.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  May all your mistakes have a fortunate outcome!

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