Second Cheese Making Class of June

Catherine being very impressive testing the curd for set - she achieved a great set and a great cut

Catherine being very impressive testing the curd for set – she achieved a great set and a great cut (she did take her watch off later)

Today we had the pleasure of Catherine’s company.  Catherine is from the Swaledale area and was due to come and make cheese with us in early

Catherine cutting the curd into cubes

Catherine cutting the curd into cubes

March, but we were all caught up in that awful snow that made everyone’s life tricky.  We made it in the end and it was good to finally meet  after what seemed like months of e-mailing.

Catherine, like some of our other cheese makers makes sour dough.  This fills me with admiration, because both Stu and I know that this is tricky!  This is what Wicki says about sour dough: ‘Sourdough is a bread product made by a long fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts. In comparison with breads made quickly with cultivated yeast, it usually has a mildly sour taste because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.’  This meant that Catherine had an understanding of starter culture and their function as she makes her own for her sour dough.

(As an aside, I have never seen someone take such a good picture with one of our sexy blue hairnets on – doesn’t Catherine look like a born cheese making professional!)

As it was around the 20 oC mark in our dairy today, so a reasonably high ambient temperature for us, we decided to ripen our milk for just one hour, then add rennet and let set.  We achieved a beautiful set and cut.  I explained how we should cut the curd into large cubes initially, then leave it to heal as it is always very delicate at this stage.

It was interesting, after having just written a blog post about making cheese without an acidity meter, today, we spoke about those three critical points in cheese making connected to achieving the right acidity and made our decision about when to take the whey off, when to cut into cubes and

What a handsome block of curd!

What a handsome block of curd!

when to salt without using an acidity meter first.  When we checked (using an acidity meter) at whey off and cutting into cubes and we

Cutting the block into small cubes

Cutting the block into small cubes

were spot on, so very interesting that with a bit of experience and knowing what to look for, you can get these critical steps right without using an acidity meter.

For anyone who would like to know where to buy an acidity meter, we bought ours from here, an utterly incomprehensible French website: Alliance Pastorale which can be translated into English using Google Translate, if that makes life easier.  It is actually the ordering that gets tricky.

Back to cheese: our block of curd looked really big and it still amazes me as to how it goes from being soft and spongy to very firm, like a chicken breast.  We decided to cut the block into cubes when it has slowed down considerably giving off whey.  We then gave it a tumble around until the whey looked milky white and the cubes were firm and springy to the touch when gently squeezed.

Milled or 'crumbed' curd for potting up

Milled or ‘crumbed’ curd for potting up

We gave Catherine’s cheese and gentle and then firmer press and she took it home with her in a sturdy carrier bag, unlike ours that broke.  Ooops!

Catherine, I hope you enjoy your cheese, when it is matured and I look forward to hearing more about your cheese making at home.  It was a pleasure to have you with us today, and good luck!

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