Cheesepalooza Optional Cheese – Crescenza (Pg 57)

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 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.

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19 comments

  1. That looks so good! Where is your square mold from? I love it! I have only done circle molds. I really love seeing the different ways people make cheese, and compare it to my own! I love the crisscrosses you got on the cheese from the rack too … gorgeous!

  2. I think you have taken on an interesting hobby , my boyfriend and I tried making pastrami at home last year, and it also had several steps , but it was something we had to try just to see what the difference was like between store bought and home made. Cheese making is something we have always had in the back of my mind and always wondered if the payoff was worth the trouble but I can see from your blog that it is worth the trouble for sure.

    1. It is so worth the effort. I have been making cheese for a little over 3 years now and I quite enjoy it. You really can tell the difference between the supermarket brand “plastic” cheese and what you make your self.

      If you are interested in making cheese check out the icon for Cheesepalooza. I am one of the organizers and you can join at any time.

    2. This looks great! I will make it with fresh Jersey milk and post it so we can compare notes. I wonder why the curd shattered? I have been using the rennet at the same rate as Mary calls for in her book and mine is double strength from Glengarry Cheese Company. Could that be the problem? I guess I should break down and buy some Chapman’s ice-cream so I can have the mold. :0) Do you use the lid for a follower for pressed cheese or just use it for these one that need little pressing? Do you make your brine with whey all the time Ian? I’ve haven’t tried the cheese brine this way. It’s an awesome idea! I have so much ricotta in my freezer right now that I don’t need any more. Does the whey brine provide a different flavour do you think?

      1. Hi Margo,

        I think the curd shattered because of the milk and I probably should have used 1/4 tsp as my rennet is getting old (it has a couple of months to the best before date) I am leery to use to much rennet as you will get a bitter taste in the cheese. I would have used fresh Jersey, but not possible at the moment. I cut the lid down to fit as a follower, and I use a cutting board cut to size wrapped in a ZipLock bag then the weights. I use the whey for brine quite often, first get your ricotta from it, though you don’t have to, and then make your brine. I like to use it as there is calcium, culture and it is generally pH balanced for cheese. I find that I will get a better rind when I use whey versus a water brine. I just stick it in the freezer to keep until the next time. After about 3 uses I add a bit more salt and a splash of vinegar and use some more. I brine my turkey’s and I use up some of the brine with that.

  3. Found the comments to the right, under your date! Duh! ANyway – This is a gorgeous looking cheese. Love that you have discovered a fresh cheese you would make again and that you like. I am a bit confuses about how you can slice it and spread it… that is odd. Is the texture like a mozzarella – or what can you compare it to?

    1. There is a thin rind on the cheese created by soaking it in the brine for two hours. This lets the outside firm up enough for slicing. The pate is still soft enough that you can use a butter knife to spread it out some. I would say that the texture is closer to a cream cheese than mozzarella. I am not sure that this one is indicative of all Crescenza. My curd did shatter so that will affect the texture of the cheese. I really should have been more gooey from what I have read about this cheese.

  4. I remember seeing a recipe from crescenza in the Cheese Enthusiast magazine, but don’t remember why I didn’t make it. Great idea about the mold. I hope to have time soon to make this cheese and then we’ll compare notes.

    1. It is funny I saw it in a cheese magazine’s website while I was in one of “waiting” times during the make. I am still looking for the elusive sinful and gooey cheese and I was hoping this one would be it. I think the curd size may have been an issue. I can’t wait for you, Margo and Valerie to make your own so we can compare notes.

      1. I made it the other day using this recipe, which I assumed was the same as the one you used http://www.culturecheesemag.com/recipes/summer_2012/make_crescenza
        but in reading again your post, I am not so sure.
        Anyway, for me everything pretty much went according to the book and got nice cubes (added Ca chloride as I used store-bought milk). I used two Camembert molds, because I don’t have square molds.
        I usually must make a cheese a couple of times before I get a sense of what’s going on, so I may later amend what I am writing. The recipe is not specific about the aging required, so I actually tasted the cheese the same day I made it and found the flavor blander than expected. I attributed it to my Aroma B culture (I need to get a new package). However, I tasted it again two days after making it, and it is much improved. This makes sense, when I think about it. So, when I make it again, I’ll let it sit for at least two days. The texture changed too, looking more like crescenza’s.

        1. Hi Simona,
          Yes it is the same recipe as in Mary’s Book. I found the internal pate on mine bland at first, the saltiness came from the “rind”. I found that it it started to taste better. I tried it again at a week and 2 weeks. I did find the flavour got stronger as it went. Unfortunately I did not get the Crescenza texture I was hoping for. I am glad yours is working out

    1. Thank You Shannon,

      I was/am honoured and surprised that NE Cheesemaking wanted to blog about my post. My wife says I should not be so humble.

      Caerphilly used to be the “house” cheese now it has to share with Crescenza. Of course part of me wants to experiment with it.

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