Semi-Lactic Cheese #2 – First 37 hours of Secret Squirrel

Part of my reasoning behind helping/joining Cheesepalooza is to get out of my comfort zone as well as resetting my cheese making.  One branch that I have been interested in, but have been too busy or too chicken to try has been “Semi-lactic” cheeses.  “Semi-lactic,” which means that the cheese is curdled more by lactic-acid build-up than by rennet.

Hopefully the start of something good!

I have made one attempt and it was a bit of a disaster, bad choice in milk, improper acidification, draining and salting, this all led to a bitter cheese that had a rubbery skin that looked like a brain.   It was time to try again, I hoped this time I would get something that was amazing at best and edible at least.   Either way it was time to try again and after the Mozzarella debacle I need some success.

First I had borrowed a square mould from Addie some time ago, this is a real mould not some DIY one that I have made, after a few conversations with some other people I have concluded I need to buy some more.  Second was that I had some Penicillium Candidum (Pen C) powder, the white mold from Camembert/Brie, that I could use instead of using scrapings from another cheese.  The third and most important was the milk, this time I went with 2% Organic Milk from Avalon Dairy, I know it is from Vancouver, not Alberta, but I was struck with the spur of the moment cheese making and I have heard good things from other cheese makers about the milk.

I started at 5 pm and put the milk into a pot with two ice cubes of pre-made mother culture (Probat 222) and heated it slowly to 78F/26C.

Two cubes of frozen mother culture melting

Once the cubes were melted I added a pinch of Pen C, hydrated in 2 tbsp of distilled water and mixed gently.  Then I added 2 drops (was supposed to be 1 drop but a second one fell) of rennet diluted into 1 tbsp. of distilled water and stirred it a bit.  I then put the lid on and placed the pot on top of my little cheese cave and walked away, that was at 5:20 pm.  I awoke the next morning later than I intended, so I went down to the kitchen and checked on my cheese.   I checked for a clean break and it was there and glorious looking.  There was a strong lactic smell as well.  It reminded me of a thick yoghurt.

Nice and soft curds, but a clean break

I prepared the mould and draining rack and using a skimmer I delicately scooped layers of curd out of the pot.  I filled the square mould up to the top several times as it drained. and then went to work and allowed the cheese to drain while I was gone.

I had to add to the mould several times, this is after the first time.

There was a small amount of spillage.

Not enough to make me concerned about loosing it all out the bottom.
Look Mom, Ian is using a real mould not DIY

This is after the final top up, I was surprised at the amount of curd I had using 2% milk.

When I came home I flipped the cheese and salted the top and had dinner and went back out to my other job and all was good.  I checked on it before I went to bed, it seemed to be draining well.  The next morning I took my little secret squirrel out of the mould and placed it  into a ripening box and into the cave, but not before photo call.

I think it looks great even with the slight dent from my finger
But wait the best is yet to come.

I will be posting updates on this cheese, especially when the “bloom” comes and especially when it is time to taste it.  Who knows this could be my “Finally” cheese for Cheesepalooza

Go make some cheese!

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10 comments

  1. I am not sure I still get what semi-lactic cheese is – more research needed, I think – but this looks lovely! I am so happy I will get a sample! And I love the name! I still have to make the sheep feta – then some more cabecou – and – and- and – oh, so much to try! :)
    V

    1. I know it can be a bit confusing, but here is What John the founder of cheeseforum.org says about it.

      These are cheeses that primarily use a lactic starter culture for a long time period to develop a low pH and create a light curd set. Primarily as a small amount of another coagulant can be added such as rennet although normally at a lower temperature than rennet requires to form a curd and at a significantly smaller amount than used in rennet coagulated cheeses

      So basically you use the lactic acid that I produced by the starter culture to form the curd, with a bit of rennet to help the process.

  2. This looks very interesting Ian! Oh how I wish I could get to making cheese. I was so excited about Cheesepalooza and I haven’t even been able to make cheese in nearly 2 months! Pout……………… Hopefully in January I’ll be able to catch up. Can’t wait to hear how this cheese makes out.

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