Making Cheese For Christmas…2015 – Homemade Grana/Parmesan #2

I was looking in the fridge the other day and a came across a piece of cheese that was at least three years old, I know that does not sound to appetizing but when it looks like this…Maybe it was time to make another.

Homemade Parmesan

Three years and it is hard as a rock. I just can’t get rid of it.

I knew it would take some time to make the cheese so I made a time appreciation to figure out how long it would be.

Cheese making Time appreciation

I don’t normally show this part, but this is my time appreciation for how long the make should take.

Parmesan is a lower fat cheese, you want to have a fat content between 2-2.8 %, it is a good thing they sell 2% milk at the market.

Cheese making milk

Here is the milk for today’s make, I only needed 19 of the 20 litres.

Cheese making setup

I could have split the batch into two roasters, but the double boiler was a better option

Milk for cheese

Here we are will 19 litres of milk. I tried to pour it in carefully, but I still got some froth.

Thermometer floating

I tried my usual system for the floating thermometer, but it looked like it would not work.

DIY Thermometer Clip

In the end I thought this setup would be better.

Thermometer clip

Here is a better look at the milk caps being used to clip the thermometer to the pot. I worked well.

I used a thermo B mix that I had on hand, I could have used lipase to jack up the piquantness of the cheese, but I figure the long ageing will help with that and to be honest I forgot I had lipase until I was cooking the curds, but I use Lamb Rennet which has lipase in it.  The directions that I used had almost no milk ripening time.  Right after you mixed in the culture you added the Calcium Chloride and then the Rennet.

Checking the floc time

As always I use a sterilized milk cap to find the flocculation time

There is not much to tell about the curd set, it was a bit longer than expected, but I got a decent set.  Cutting the curd to 1/4 inch was a bit of a pain, but in the end the effort shows.  The directions called for a two stage heating of the curds.  30 minutes to one temperature, 5 minutes rest, then 30 minutes to the next temperature., stirring the entire time.

Cooking the curd.

After cutting the curd it was stir and cook the curd. I had to keep cutting down some of the larger pieces to get them to the right side

cutting it smaller.

After a few more passes with a whisk and the skimmer, the curd was almost to the right size.

I was on fire this day, other than the longer curd set, I met times and target temperature exactly on schedule and the curd showed for the effort too.

cooking the curd

After an hour of stirring and heating the curd, it was almost ready.

When the curd is the right size

Now you can see that the curd is the right size, like rice, and mats together. It easily broke apart.

I have watched videos where the Parmigiano Reggiano makers take the curd mass out of the whey in a huge cheese cloth and straight into the moulds.  Well I am not in Italy and definitely  not making Parmigiano Reggiano, I had to drain the whey.

Curd mass

After draining the whey, sorry no ricotta today, I had a decent yield.

Moulding the cheese

The curd was quite warm and very pliable. I was able to move it to the mould quite easily.

Pressing for the frist time

I was really excited to try my new press. I did the first pressing on the x5 advantage. So 4 kg x 5= 20 kg pressure.

flipping the cheese.

Here is my little Grana/Parmesan after the first flip. The curds were still quite warm

After one more flip it was time for the final pressing.  This time I used the x9 advantage.  8 kg x 9 = 74 kg pressure (including the weight of the arm)

After one more flip it was time for the last pressing. This time I used the x9 advantage. 8 kg x 9 = 74 kg pressure (including the weight of the arm)

Cheese weight

I like to weigh my cheese after it comes out of the press. This helps you to decide how long you brine the cheese. This one calls for 6 hours/lb or 12 hours/kg

Week old cheese.

I love ripening boxes, this cheese will be spending a long time in one.

ripening time

One week in and the Parmesan seems to be doing fine. The humidity is staying constant and the rind though pocked marked is solid.

Over all it was a good make and the new press preformed as expected.  I did realize that pressing in my basement may not be the best idea.  It was around 15C down there and the curds cooled too fast.  Next time I will press upstairs in the kitchen.

Now to discuss the “Elephant in the room”  - No the title is not a typo.  Yes this will be a cheese for Christmas 2015, I know that is a long time, but I have aged a Parmesan style cheese to 9 months and tried one that was much older.  There is no comparison you need to age it a minimum for a year in my humble opinion.

I will have the picture set up on Facebook as usual.

Until next time go and make some cheese.

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7 comments

    1. Great question! When pressing, the follower (the top/lid of the mould), leaves a little ridge/lip that I cut off and I…eat it. The cheese is very bland and rubbery right out of the press, especially before brining. The thermophilic culture that I used is slow acting and will do its thing over the months/years to come, the salt will help the culture by keeping some unwanted bacteria/mould from developing and assist in flavour development too.

      I often take a bit of curd and try it, just to see where the acid level is to get a sense of how things are progressing. I have found that trying a bit of the whey is a great indicator, for me at least, on how the cheese will taste in the end. Bitter whey can mean bitter cheese, again that has been my experience.

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