August 25, 2008

Perfect Party Platter

Last Friday my friend Dana threw a little soirée, which ended up being a gathering of many of our friends. What better opportunity to share some cheese?

I put together a little cheese platter, with the Feta, Manchego, Horseradish Cheddar, and Jalapeno Cheddar. Dana also supplied some fig paste, which is a wonderful complement to the Manchego (Quince paste is also great). Overall: Great Success!

We've been enjoying the Manchego and Feta for a little while now, but this was the unveiling of the two cheddars. They had been aging for just over 2 months, and came out of the wax in excellent shape. Both had a faint trace of pink mold on the surface, which I simply scraped off.

The flavor was excellent--thankfully, we guessed right on the Horseradish and Jalapeno quantities. Spicy, flavorful, and intense. I still can't decide which I liked more.

The only other thing I still have to figure out is the texture... Both the cheddars were quite crumbly (almost like a Feta!), while the Feta is too soft and creamy. Darn it, I'll have to try again!

August 22, 2008

The Leaning Tower of Colby

Yesterday my friends Sean & Michelle came over to make a batch of cheese. We settled on Colby, as it fit our time requirements and the ingredients we had on hand.

The big difference between Colby and some of the other cheeses I've made is that Colby is a "washed curd" cheese. After cooking the curds, we drained off most of the whey (saving it for Ricotta, of course) and then replaced the whey with fresh 60-degree water. Not only does that lower the temperature of the curds (changing the moisture content of the final cheese--colder than 80 is moister, warmer is drier), but it also washes the milk sugar (lactose) from the curd and helps avoid making the cheese sour.

This is also my first attempt with cheese coloring. So far, it doesn't seem like it's done much... I'm wondering if the color will become more pronounced as it ages? (Though it does look like there's a very faint splotchiness to it, which actually seems like a traditional colby coloring). Time will tell, eh?

Here's Sean, stirring the curds!

And here are the curds after washing and draining. We then salted them and put them in the press.

Even though we pressed it at increasing pressure (flipping between pressure changes), the cheese came out a bit lopsided. Thankfully that won't affect the flavor!

2 gal. Trader Joe's Organic Whole Milk
1/4 tsp. Mesophilic Starter
5 drops Cheese Coloring (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)

1/2 tsp. Double-Strength Vegetarian Rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
2 tbs. Cheese Salt

August 3, 2008

Goat's Milk Feta

I just finished my first batch of Goat's Milk Feta! Woohoo!
I'm actually quite surprised at how easy--and fast--it was. The only tricky part was finding the goat's milk (thank you, Trader Joe!). Otherwise, it's a pretty straightforward process that doesn't even require a press--and is wayyyyyy easier than cheddar!
The only downside: At $2.99 a quart, it's pretty pricey. Just for the milk, that's $12 a pound!
- Heat 1 Gallon goat's milk to 86 degrees, add mesophilic starter.
- 1 hour later, add rennet (still at 86 degrees).

- 1 hour later, cut the curds into 1/2" cubes, let set 10 minutes.
- Stir gently for 20 minutes.
- Strain into cheesecloth, tie up the corners, and hang for 4 hours.
- Cut into 1" cubes, add salt, place in covered bowl in refrigerator.
- Wait 4 or 5 days (haven't done that part yet), and then enjoy!

4 quarts Summerhill Pasteurized Goat's Milk (from Trader Joe's)
1/8 tsp. Mesophilic Direct Set Starter
1/4 tsp. Double-Strength Liquid Vegetarian Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2 tbs. Flake Salt

New double-boiler setup

Made a quick trip to Surfas Restaurant Supply yesterday, and picked up a nice 24-quart aluminum pot. Shown above is my 12-quart stainless steel pot resting inside the larger pot, which is filled with warm water. This will save a lot of water, since I was previously using my sink to hold the hot water, and had to keep adding more hot water as it cooled down. Now, I just need to turn on the burner on my stove for a couple of minutes, and voila!, back to the right temperature.