It was a balmy -24C when I met Rick(from Explorations with Sailor Rick and part of Cheesepalooza) at the Tim Horton’s Parking at 5:30 AM on December 27. We were meeting to head out to Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese (our partner in Cheesepalooza) to help Alex and Leslie make a new cheese for their burgeoning cow milk cheese line. Originally it was to be a take on a Gouda, but it was decided we would head into the mountain regions for our inspiration for the day’s make. After loading up on a double-double and some muffins we were off into the dark and certain fun. We arrived in good time and despite the somewhat slippery highway conditions (sometimes it is a good thing to be stuck behind a semi truck), and after the usual coffee and catching up, we got to work.
We over shot the temperature on the milk so as we waited for it to cool we went about helping with rind maintenance on a few of the cheeses. (Most of the Pictures are from Rick)
Now after we finally got dow to the right temperature we added the cultures and some proprionic acid,for eye formation, then we introduced Rick to their 300 Litre vat.
Now it was time to ripen the milk for a bit and then add the rennet.
With the rennet in, it was time to let the milk set and have lunch. We started earlier than any other session so we had an early lunch. After about 40 minutes it was time to check the curd and if it was good then time to cut and heat up to 50C.
After we had cut the curd, we put the paddle back on in place of the harps, we used this to stir the curd while we worked it by hand at the same time. We had to break it down into smaller pieces as this is a harder cooked cheese. Sorry we were too busy to get pictures of this process. After we achieved the right temperature and pH, we drained the whey to the top of the curd and started to hoop. You want to do this with very wet curd so we scooped out basins of curds and whey and brought them to the draining table and filled the moulds that way.
We were done and had the cheese ready for pressing by 12:30PM, this was the earliest we had ever finished. For the first time I was able to stay for the full clean up of the make room, most times I am able to help with part of it but I have to leave to get back to Edmonton. Rick and I washed up the equipment and got everything ready for them to make another batch of cheese the next day. We head into the house for a coffee and to talk about affinage (aging) for the cheese. They will age after brining, for 10 to 14 days at 13C then come out into the make room for 3 to 4 weeks to encourage the eye formation. Then they will be aged for 4 to 6 months, which should put this cheese ready for the Farmer’s Markets in June/July. They have named it already, but I will not say at this time as they may change the name.
I love going out to help Smoky Valley with their cheese making, it is very relaxing and enjoyable, if you are ever interested in going out for one of their sessions go the contact me section and let me know. It has been a very busy month of December as I have, including this one, made 4 types of cheese and I still have one more to make in a few days.
Go and make some cheese, or given the season, eat some you like.