Cheese Genesis – Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese Trip – 27 December 2012

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)

Here I am just brushing the rind of "El Toro" their Chipotle Rubbed Montasio Style Cheese

Here I am just brushing the rind of “El Toro” their Chipotle Rubbed Montasio Style Cheese.

Here it is starting to look much better.

Here it is starting to look better.

Here is one of the cheeses I suggested to leave alone and let the rind go wild.I love the patina that is starting to form with microflora.

Here is one of the cheeses I suggested to leave alone and let the rind go wild.
I love the patina that is starting to form with microflora.

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.

I just sprinkled the cultures over the surface andLeslie and I were talking about the next steps.

I just sprinkled the cultures over the surface and Leslie and I were talking about the next steps.

Rick did a great job in incorporating the culture into the milk

Rick did a great job in incorporating the culture into the milk.

He really seemed to be enjoying this part of the process!

He really seemed to be enjoying this part of the process!

Now it was time to ripen the milk for a bit and then add the rennet.

This time I got to incorporate the rennet into the milk.  I love my new blue gloves.

This time I got to incorporate the rennet into the milk. I love my new blue gloves.

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.

I got to run the vat for the cutting of the curd.

I got to run the vat for the cutting of the curd.

The cutters worked well, but sometimes you have to push some of the curd in a bit so the other cutter can get it.

The cutters worked well, but sometimes you have to push some of the curd in a bit so the other cutter can get it.

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.

The curds and whey were so hot that we had to use thermo gloves to fill the moulds.

The curds and whey were so hot that we had to use thermo gloves to fill the moulds.

Here are the moulds filled up, next we put on the followers and stacked them for the first "pressing"

Here are the moulds filled up, next we put on the followers and stacked them for the first “pressing”

This was taken after the first flip in the moulds.  We stacked them again.  Alex would press them in the press in about another 30 mins.

This was taken after the first flip in the moulds. We stacked them again. Alex would press them in the press in about another 30 mins.

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.

Advertisements

9 comments

  1. Great post Ian,

    It was definitely a fun and early day! That was the first time I had made cheese with anyone besides my kids so it was nice to affirm that my technique/methods are sound. It is really great to work with such a large volume as well. Nothing works as well as repetition to get your technique down. I look forward to going out again.

    I also definitely would recommend a day at Smoky Valley learning to make cheese to anyone interested in cheese making. Leslie and Alex were great hosts.

    Happy New Year!

  2. I’ve been experimenting with some very basic cheese making at home of late, paneer, ricotta, mozzarella, which is pretty cool, but this looks like scads of fun!

  3. What a fantastic post, Ian! I ALMOST felt as if I was there! I am always so curious as to what I am missing – and this time, have been completely satisfied by this thorough post – which will be a great base to the follow up posts of this cheese! I was so disappointed to, once again, miss a day out there, but I had full house. I am so so happy to hear of the wonderful time you had and so excited to learn the new name and the style of the cheese as well as to, eventually, taste it! What a wonderful playground you have found. It is such a joy to see the fruits of your dedication and love unfold though the incredible cheeses you create.
    Happy 2013! We are sure lucky to have met you this year! Cheesepalooza would not be possible without you!
    Valerie

    1. Thanks Valerie,
      It was a pleasure to write this post, almost as much as it was to actually go out and make this cheese. I really hope it turns out as it will help Smoky Valley fill the gap in the Alberta Cheese Scene. I don’t believe there is another producer making a “mountain or a Swiss” style cheese here. I am very proud to be a part of it. I don’t know about the name yet, I still have to talk it over with my family first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s