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.
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 next day I let it air dry for two more hours and then it was sampling time.
- 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.