Friday, December 16, 2011

Planning for The Holidays - Making Something New

I will have plenty of time on my hands between the holidays.  So I figure I'll make 4 different batches of cheeses.  I plan on making ones that have varying ageing times to satisfy my instant gratification, yet have some I can share and eat later.  When done, my little wine refrigerator ought to be full of ripening containers.  I'll have to move my cheddars and the Caciotta to a regular refigerator for a while, but the cheddars need to age for a long time, and the colder temps for a short time will not harm them.  The Caciotta will be ready to eat and share in a week, so it's not long for this world anyway.

First up is a true Roquefort.  I have the sheep's milk already.  I was informed that my frozen sheep's milk was taking up too much room in our small freezer, so they are out defrosting.  The two gallons will make about 3 lbs of cheese, so I'll make three 1 lb rounds.  Two things I have to watch with this one:  handling the curds more gently and sprinkling the penicillin onto the curds evenly as I fill the molds.  Usually, the penicillin is incorporated into the milk, but this time, it's put on the surface of the curds.  The rest is like making Stiltons with some minor changes.  This will take 2-5 months to age (about St Patrick's Day to Easter).  Sigh!

Then I plan on making more juustoa for Christmas at my Mom's house.  Easy peezy, now that I've got the hang of it, especially the removal of the whey while it broils.  But it's instant gratification!

I will be making more Brie.  I have this one down pat!  And it only takes six weeks to age, so by Valentines Day I'll have some tasty cheese to go with a nice wine.

The last cheese I just couldn't decide.  At first I wanted to make an Emmental (Swiss Cheese).  But then I discovered that I'd have to make a huge cheese, otherwise the holes, or "eyes", will burst through the surface.  Suggested minimum:  8 gallons of milk or 9 lbs of cheese!  Plus, I'd have to make it in two pots simultaneously because I don't have an 8 gallon pot (do they even make them that big?).  This is way too ambitious for me.  Besides, I can get good Emmental here in Wisconsin.  Let someone else deal with the size of the batch.  I thought maybe I'd make an Edam or Gouda instead.  Simple and I do enjoy them.  But, again, I can get good Edam and Gouda here.  Why not try something completely new?  So I think I've settled on a Valencay.  It's a goat's milk cheese shaped into small pyramids.  It is both a mold ripened and a vegetable ash ripened cheese.  The ash gets sprinkled on the surface before ageing, and the geotrichnum and penicillin candidum bloom over the ash so it looks frosty.  At least, that's what the picture looks like.  It also has the advantage that it makes 8 small cheeses.  Ideal for sharing. It can be eaten rather young with fruit and crackers, or when older and drier, it can be grated over salads and omelets.  Really versatile!  So now I just have to buy molds and ash.

Stay tuned.  I won't be posting about the juustoa and Brie, since I've made these before and blogged a lot about that already.  But I will post about the Roquefort and Valencay endeavors.

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