|Ian at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese|
One of the founders of the fabulous Cheesepalooza!
Last month, I posted an article about Valerie Lugonja with her tutorial about making Cabecou. She told me all about Cheesepalooza, that wonderful ongoing event where you make a cheese every month and share your experiences with the other participants (you can join anytime).
When I found Ian’s article about Crescenda at his blog- Much To Do About Cheese, I didn’t realize he was one of the founders of Cheesepalooza. I had asked him to be a guest blogger because he had written a great article about a cheese we hadn’t featured before. But, while I had his attention, I took the opportunity to ask him about how Cheesepalooza began:
It started on Twitter, with Deb (Krause) following me and I her and then the talk turned to cheese. Deb would say that she should show up the next time I was making cheese. At the same time Valerie (Lugonja) was working on her Mozzarella and Deb was helping her with it. Then Deb came by while I was making a Caerphilly and Valerie was meeting with Addie (Raghavan) to learn how to make Chèvre.
Then, finally, the four of us got together to discuss to possibility of starting a cheese making group. I had never really made fresh cheeses, I skipped that part in my cheese making and went to semi-firms and hard cheeses. It was a great way for me to hit the reset button on my cheese making.
We figured that we could include the Edmonton Blogging community with the project, and it just blossomed into the Cheesepalooza that we have now with over 60 participants. Valerie has been gracious to host all the challenges and round-ups for each month. She also contacted Mary Karlin, we are using her book (Artisan Cheese Making at Home), and she said she would help when she could to answer questions.
It has lead to some interesting opportunities such as a field trip to Smoky Valley Goat Cheese (Now Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese as they have cow’s milk cheeses now) and I have been able to go back and help out in the dairy and make cheese with them.
How did you become a cheese maker?
I love cheese, I mean I really love cheese. I was looking for something to do that had nothing to do with my other jobs (I work in a printing shop at a post secondary institution and I work with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets as well) and I thought that cheese making could be fun.
My maternal grandfather was a dairy farmer in Quebec and made farmers cheese, and my paternal great-grandmother had sheep in Austria and made cheese to sell at market, it was kind of in my blood.
I did about 2 years of research before I even purchased a “kit” from a supply company. That was 3 years ago and now I am hooked. I try to make cheese at least once a month. Besides, it makes great gifts for family and friends.
By Ian Treuer at Much To Do About Cheese
First off, I want to say that this is not the Challenge Cheese for September, but it is one of the ones listed for that month. Secondly this is my first real attempt at making a cultured fresh cheese. So here we go.
I decided on making a Crescenza because friends of mine asked me to make some cheese for a party they are having and they wanted some soft/spreadable cheese. I figured that if I was going to make them a cheese, then I should try to make one prior to doing it for them. So off to get our trusty book for Cheesepalooza and away I went making cheese.
|Crescenza with edible Purple Shamrock|
Using my set up I heated the milk to 90F as per the directions, I even used powdered culture (mesophilic) instead of my usual mother culture. Where I differed was I used 1/8 teaspoon of rennet (mine is double strength); I was using pasteurized homogenized milk so I did break down and use some calcium chloride solution. I let the milk set for prescribed time of 45 minutes, but no clean break. I let it sit for another ten minutes and I checked again. I did get a relatively clean break, but not like the ones I get with my fresh Jersey milk. I let it rest and then started the five minutes of stirring, this is when disaster struck!
The curd shattered, no longer did I have nice 1 inch cubes, I had pea sized curd. I stopped stirring immediately, I could salvage this cheese, but I had to be gentle. I did not get a picture of the shattered curd; I was too focused on saving the cheese. I let the curd settle for about five to ten minutes, while I prepared my mould and cheesecloth. I was using my “Chapman’s” mould so I could get a square cheese like the directions said (actually they said to use a taleggio mould). I gently started to scoop the curd into the mould to allow it to drain; it took about 10 minutes to complete the task. I managed to salvage the whey, which I turned into the brine for later.
After three hours I flipped the cheese, then after another 3 hours it was time for a two-hour whey brine bath (flipping in the brine after one hour. It was now 11:40 PM and I still had to let the cheese air dry. I did for about ten minutes then I put it into an improvised “cave” and into the fridge and off to bed.
|The “top” before flipping|
|The “bottom” after flipping|
|After 2 hour soak in the whey brine|
|Tucked into it’s sleeping bag for the night.|
The next day I let it air dry for two more hours and then it was sampling time.
|Air drying the next day|
|The first cut is the deepest.|
|My sample piece.|
Appearance: Firm yet creamy looking pate
Nose (aroma): Slight lactic smell
Overall Taste: Slightly salty yet not overpowering. Creamy
Sweet to Salty: More to the salty side
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): Very mild, not robust or pungent at all
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): Very smooth and creamy yet firm at the same time.
Overall this is an excellent cheese to make and to eat. I have tried some on a cracker and it was quite good. It was firm enough to be sliced, but soft enough to be spread as well. This is a definite make again.
|All wrapped up and in the main cave now.|