It was time to cut this little guy open!

Secret Squirrel-Semi Lactic Cheese Success

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have worked on a Semi-Lactic Cheese that has the nickname of “Secret Squirrel” and this is its story.

First off I feel I should explain what a Lactic or Semi-Lactic cheeses are, they are cheeses that are mainly coagulated (curd formed) with the build up of lactic acid and minimal rennet.  They primarily involve using a long acidification (18 to 24 hours) and a long draining (usually about 24 hours).  Such cheeses include Saint-Maure de Touraine, or MT. Townsend Creamery’s Seastack.

I actually have been quite obsessed with making an edible Semi-Lactic Cheese, as my first one was nasty tasting with a capital Blech! It was rubbery, bitter and was promptly thrown in the bin.  I was actually embarrassed that I posted the picture of it on this site.   Attempt two was much more successful.

I started with quality milk, I used 3.25% Homogenized Organic Milk from Avalon Dairies 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.  After it had reached temperature I added a pinch of Penicillium Candidum powder in hopes that I would get a nice velvety white pillow at the end.  I re-hydrated them for five minutes and then stirred it in to the milk.  Next was rennet, normally I am use to a teaspoon measure; this one was a scant 2 drops in a tablespoon of distilled water.  I added the rennet and then I put the lid on and put the pot on top of the fridge and left it for 13 hours, yes I know I said 18 to 24 hours before, but I still experimenting at this time.

Heating the milk and the mother culture cubes

The next morning I got up and set up my mould and gently ladled the curd into it to let it start draining.  I topped up the curd in the mould twice before I had used all the curd in the pot.  It drained for 24 hours and then I salted the outside of the cheese and let it air dry in the “cave” for the day and then it went into a ripening box where I could control the humidity better.

The next morning I had a clean break!

The start of draining the curd.

Fresh out of the mould after 24 hours of draining

After Air Drying

On the eight day I squealed with delight, yes I squealed, I had the start of a bloom on the outer surface of the cheese.  Now it was time to see if it would spread, to all the cheese.  It did and I was happy.  This is where I forgot a step.  Yes I missed the crucial step of wrapping the cheese in special wrapping paper to slow down the mold growth on the cheese, and I forgot to move it into the regular fridge too.  It at about day 14 I noticed it had a bit of slip skin, a rind had started lift off from the main part of cheese, but I could save it.

Look it bloomed

Nice coverage, this is when I should have wrapped it

I took it and wrapped it in some cheese paper and put it directly into the fridge, it was not the proper paper, but it would do.  I kept a close eye on the rind development and it seemed to be only on one side of the cheese so I had high hopes it could be saved.  I kept checking every day until it was time for Secret Squirrel to be debuted at the Cheesepalooza Tasting and I would not be disappointed.

The dreaded slip skin

This side was ok

Even with the flaws it is still one good-looking cheese

I cut into it at the tasting with a bit of apprehension, I was not sure if it might be liquid inside or just that right mix of firmness but still gooey.  It was amazing and in my opinion one of the hits of the tasting.  I was pleased.  It was soft yet firm, gooey yet…oh just look at the pictures!

All my cheeses for the tasting

It was time to cut this little guy open!

Oh My! Soft and Gooey!

10 minutes in that was all that was left, there was a tiny bit left at the end and that was spoken for.

Tasting Notes for Secret Squirrel:

  • Appearance:The white mould with hints of ivory peeking out from underneath on the rind, the internal paste is cream colour.
    • Nose (aroma): It has a nice subtle mushroom smell that gets a bit stronger as it warms up
    • Overall Taste: Slightly acidic with a hint of salty sweetness with a hint of mushroom.
    • Sweet to Salty: It does have a hint of salty sweetness
    • Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): There is this slight hint of earthiness that is reminiscent of fresh mushrooms.
    • Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): Creamy and almost melts in your mouth.

Would I make this again? Well as I type this I have another batch ripening on my fridge now.

Go make some cheese!

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9 comments

  1. This was a brilliant cheese! I could have eaten the entire plate. I was pretty enamoured with my Caerphilly during the evening (my first “real” cheese) and hosting, but this cheese was absolutely BRILLIANT. Bravo, Ian! I wish I got a little to savor after the evening! :)
    Valerite

    1. Thanks Valerie,
      I was worried that it would not turn out, but I was quite pleased with the results. I have another one on the go now and I have to make one for a pot-luck we are having at work, so I am sure I can get you some.

  2. How wonderful Ian! Oh, I can feel the joy in your ‘voice’ to see it developing, and right you should! Look forward to lots of chats on the semi-lactics, I love them too :-)

    1. Thank you, the thought of a semi- lactic use to turn me off, but as my cheese appreciation level increased so did my fondness for these “set and forget” cheeses

    1. Hi Christine, I quickly wrapped the cheese in cheese paper (I only had the type you use to bring home cheese from the cheese shop) and put it into my refrigerator to slow the mold growth. It worked so far as to contain the slip skin to one portion of the cheese. I will not miss the wrap window on the next one, hopefully the wrapping paper I ordered will be here in time.

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