My wife, Judi, and I live in Oxford, Pennsylvania which is an hour south of Philadelphia. Oxford is a small rural town, close to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and we have a number of Amish neighbors. Because of all the Amish farms, raw milk is readily available. Additionally, they sell homemade animal rennet, along with a few of the more common cultures. I’m also fortunate to have access to goat milk, a short 20 minute ride from home.
I enjoy cooking and so I began experimenting with cheese about three years ago. I own a land surveying business, so my leisure time is somewhat limited. It probably took almost two years to work my way up to the more complex cheeses such as Brie, Blue and Alpine varieties. I have decided that my signature cheese could be Edam since it got the best reviews from my friends and actually tastes the same every time I make it. I did however use goats milk for the Edam last week. I guess I just have to experiment.
By the way, I do pasteurize the goats milk and raw cows milk before making my cheeses. Even though I grew up drinking raw milk until I left for college, I don’t like taking chances.
The cheese recipe below is for Chocolate Neufchatel Cheese. I started with commercial whole chocolate milk and a pint of heavy cream. To quote one of my tasters: “the cheese had a pleasant aroma, the texture was smooth and easy to spread, the taste had a tangy flavor with just a hint of chocolate and it had a pleasant after taste.” One friend said she felt that it would pair well with a dry red wine. In my opinion my cheese still tastes like commercial Neufchatel even with the chocolate.
Finally I thought this cheese just might work well in cheesecake. So I used a standard New York Style Cheesecake Recipe and substituted my Chocolate Neufchatel for regular cream cheese. It actually worked great!
By Ed Jefferis
Yields 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
1 gallon whole chocolate milk
1 pint heavy cream
½ tsp calcium chloride dissolved in ¼ cup distilled water
1 packet direct set mesophilic culture (C101)
1 drop liquid rennet diluted in ¼ cup distilled water
1 tsp Kosher salt or cheese salt
1. Combine milk, heavy cream, calcium chloride in a cheese pot. Heat mixture to 86 degrees F.
2. Remove pot from heat, add culture, let rest for 5 minutes to re-hydrate. Stir into milk for 1 minute with whisk in an up and down motion.
3. Add the rennet in the same manner.
4. Cover, and let ripen for 12 hours or overnight.
5. There should be some separation of the curd from the whey. Carefully tip the pot and remove as much whey as possible. Do not break the curd mass.
6. Line a colander or strainer with a double layer of damp cheesecloth or 1 layer of butter muslin. Use a slotted spoon and gently transfer the curds to the cheesecloth. Let drain for 30 minutes.
7. Gather the cheesecloth corners together and form a draining bag. Hang the bag and let drain for at least 12 hours. I sometimes go for several hours more for a dryer cheese.
8. Place cheese in a bowl. Knead with a spoon until it develops a paste-like texture. Add salt. Refrigerate and then mold into desired shape.