Ewes & Moos – Father’s Day Cheesemaking and Cheesepalooza Pre-Announcement!

First off I would like to say I have the best wife and kids in the world, for Father’s Day this year they gave me two awesome gifts.  The first was eight litres of Wooly’s Sheep Milk by Vital Greens Farm, purchased at Earth’s General Store to make cheese with, and the second was a second day of cheese making this time it with “fresh” Jersey Milk.  Given the fact that my wife is not a huge cheese fan I was very touched by her and the kid’s gifts.  Also there is a Cheezapalooza Pre-Announcement below.

DAY 1 – Working with a Gift from Ewe to Me.

On Sunday I started with the Sheep or Ewe’s Milk.  I had spent some time during the last few weeks doing some research as to which cheese I would make, and in true Ian fashion I pick one that probably was not one for my first time using this type of milk.  I decided to use one from Ricki Caroll’s site, Italian Basket Cheese called Canestrato.  I started about 10 AM so it would not take all day.  I was able to find a wicker/reed basket that I sanitized and I decided to use it.  I did like any good experimenter try the milk, it had a drink of the milk and it was…earthy

8 Litres or Liquid Father’s Day gift

I won’t bore you too much with the directions, that is why I linked to the recipe site.  I used mother culture “cubes” that I had made previously (2 Meso and one Thermo) and let them do their thing.  I used less rennet then I would normally use because I have read that Ewe’s milk has more proteins and solids in it so you need less.  I did get an excellent set and a nice clean break.

The cooking of the curd went well and I managed to make the right temperature in the right time frame.

I was amazed at the amount of curd and at the colour of the whey

I used the basket to mould the cheese and to give it the texture on the rind, it did not stay and you cannot see it now.  Plus the basket was pretty much destroyed by the process. As a bonus, I was able to get a cup of ricotta from the left over whey; this was great given the recipe called for the cheese to be submerged in the warm whey for about an hour.  After this it was drying time.  The Cheese was dry and ready for the cave by that evening.  I still had four litres of whey left to feed my tomatoes so I think an approximate 50% yield was amazing.

My 2.5 lb Ewe’s milk cheese. It kind of looks like bread though.

DAY 2 – Return of the Caerphilly

After a quick jaunt out to run some errands on the Monday after Father’s Day (yes I take vacation days to make cheese), lunch with my wonderful wife and daughter, it was time to make some cheese.  I have to say I am relatively done with experiments for the time being, and it was time to get back to making cheese that I have had success with before.  It was time for the return of the Caerphilly!  This cheese has quickly become the cheese of choice by my wife (again she is not a cheese fan) and my son.  This time I used the recipe from Mary Karlin’s “Artisan Cheese Making at Home” with a few alterations, which I will mention later.

Again I used my standard setup of my sanitized roaster vat and my tools along with my iPad (it has my cheese making record) and books

My standard setup with my tools and my culture cubes

My Book and iPad – where my cheese making records are keps

The first alteration is that I used my meso mother culture again, not major, but it is a change.  This time it took almost an hour to bring the milk up to temperature, I was fiddling with the dial too much.  Then I added the culture and put the lid on the vat and let it ripen for 45 minutes (the recipe calls for 1 hour I have found that over acidifies the milk with using my mother culture).

The mother culture is melting

At this time the lovely Deb the Locavore, who has always been saying she would come by during one of my makes, came by to check things out and share some of her amazing mozzarella.  She was in time to see the rennet being added and for me to explain flocculation to her.  Then it was time to sample some of my cheeses that I had made previously including the remaining salt lick, the Irish Dane that is an example of what not to do.   After 43 minutes it was time to check for a clean break and it was great.  And I was able to cut the curd and let it rest for a bit before the cooking of the curd.

After the curd cutting

Starting to “cook” the curd

I made it to temperature in about 14 minutes not the 20 the recipe calls for.  I let the curd settle for 45 minutes, during this time Deb had to leave so I made sure I took some more pictures then I normally take.  When it was time to drain the curd I used my handy dandy scoop strainer to put the curds into cheesecloth lined colander and let it drain for a few minutes.  The recipe calls for the cheese to be brined.  This is one of two recipes out of all that I have for Caerphilly that need to be brined.  I have had success with salting the curd and then into my mould and into the press.  When I make Gouda I like to do the first press under whey it allows for a nicer knit on the rind and helps with then end stage acid development.   Then it was time for the final press and call it a night.

Salted Curd now in the Mould

Pressing under Whey – Pun intended!

Now the final press

The next morning it was time to pull it out the press and start the air-drying.  It looked like I pulled a large pat of butter out the press; it was time for its day out with nature.  By that night it was ready to go into the cave for 3 to 6 weeks of aging, for those who know me it will be more likely 3 weeks rather than 6.

Fresh out of the Press, looks like butter.

After a day of Air-Drying it is time to go to the cave

CHEESEPALOOZA PRE-ANNOUNCEMENT

Now it is time for a pre-announcement: Watch for Cheesepalooza coming to your neighbourhood, soon.

Valarie from www.acanadianfoodie.com has spoken to Mary Karlin of Artisan Cheese Making at Home and though she is not sure, at present, how much time she can devote to our project, she will contribute her mentorship to it in a yet to be determined capacity. Project?

Valarie, Addie, Deb and I are initiating a Cheesepalooza Project: a 9 to 10 month Artisan Cheesemaking adventure where we use Mary’s book as our guide and all make the same cheeses to a specific schedule.

I hope many of our readers will participate. There will be monthly postings. Right now we are working on the plan.   We hope to gather some sponsors and possibly prizes, etc (similar to charcutapalooza by Mrs Wheelbarrow).  If you are interested in participating, let us know in the comments section below, and I will e-mail you with the details as soon as we have them!

Please also tell us what you are interested in learning and doing, cheese-wise!  If you have any cheese making expertise, please also let us know!

Cheers,

Ian

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9 comments

  1. I’d love to get my hands on some sheep milk! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out, it looks delicious already! Having successfully completed Charcutepalooza in the top ten, I’d love to give Cheesapalooza a go! I’m already working my way through Mary Karlin’s book, but I would definitely welcome the mentorship and new friends that challenges like this present!

    1. That is great, I am looking forward to “working” with everyone on this project. The Sheep milk was interesting to work with. I was lucky to find a store that sells it.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try making more difficult cheeses. I’ve only really expermented with mozzarella and ricotta. Would be up for it for sure! Can you use a wine fridge as a cave?

    1. That is great I will let Valarie know to add you to the list and I will post something after our planning session this weekend. I use a wine fridge as my cheese cave and a second fridge (it has a broken thermostat) as a ice box as a secondary cave for longer term aging.

  3. I am overwhelmed. So much of this I do understand, and an equal amount, I do not understand. I am SO grateful to have your expertise with CHEESEPALOOZA! Between you, and Mary, we should be well taken care of.
    Questions:
    1. “This time it took almost an hour to bring the milk up to temperature, I was fiddling with the dial too much.” What dial? I have a big turkey roaster and it has no precise dial… where did you get yours and what kind is it?
    2. The blue “handy dandy” scoop. Where did you get that. I want one!
    3. Why was the cheese so yellow?
    4. Now that I have finally read this – now a question – but DARN! I would have LOVED to have been over there during that process. Brilliant – but, we have a whole year ahead of us.
    5. Talk to you soon!
    🙂
    Valerie
    WOWSERS!

    1. Hi Valarie,

      I am happy to participate in Cheesepalooza, I am look forward to getting back to basics with the project.

      Here are some answers to the questions.

      1. It is a “rival brand” roaster that my sister in law was not using so she gave it to me. I use it as a double boiler. I conducted several dry runs to determine the temperature marks. I posted a bit more here https://muchtodoaboutcheese.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/just-the-vat-maam/

      2. I picked up the scoop at Dollarama for $1.25 or $1.50. Pampered chef sells one similar for $10-$15. I love using it.

      3. The colour is due to what the cows are eating. When they are on hay or grain then the colour of the cheese will be more white than yellow, when they are eating grass there is a higher level of a naturally occurring yellow pigment, the process of making the cheese brings it out. Aging should mellow it out.

      4. Any time

      Cheers,

      Ian

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