December has come and gone, just as 2012 has turned to 2013, change is good, but certain things stay the same, I make cheese and I love it. Recently I asked my readers to vote on which “washed curd” cheese I should make as my next cheese. First I was surprised that anyone voted and that Fontina was a close second to the eventual winner Gouda. Well if it is Gouda for you, then it is Gouda for me! I will have to write about this cheese in two parts. The first part will cover the make itself and the first part of the afinage (aging) and the second part will cover the aging to tasting. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we will begin.
First what are “washed curd cheeses”? Here is a general definition from the wonderful website Cheeseforum.org
“Washed curd type cheeses are named for their making process of removing whey and adding water to wash the curds, other names are stirred-curd and soaked curd type cheeses. The original washed curd semi-hard type aged cheeses are Gouda and Edam originating in Netherlands, others examples being Havarti, Colby, Fontina, Danbo and Jarlsberg. They are typically commercially made in 4-14 kg wheels (Gouda) or 1-2 spheres (Edam) or blocks and are characterised by a limited number of regularly distributed small 2-10 mm diameter round eyes. They have a smooth texture when young (4 weeks) to medium matured, are easily sliced and have good melting properties. When older they develop more caramel flavor and amino acid crystals.
Washed curd cheeses are historically made from cow’s milk using mesophilic mixed-strain starters cultures, which are rennet coagulated to form a curd. After curd formation, the curd is cut and then undergoes a mild low temperature scalding to control the moisture content and then part of the whey is removed and warm water added to “wash” the curds, which removes some of the lactic acid to create a sweeter cheese. The washed cut curds are then pre-pressed in the warm whey and then pressed out of the whey to form wheels. After pressing they are brine-salted to halt acidification and then historically aged unwaxed. The texture is mainly influenced by its moisture content, fat content, pH and age.” – Cheese Wiki on Cheeseforum.org
I have made several Gouda over the past few years, it was the first cheese I attempted and I have had great success with it. For this make I chose to use the directions in Gianalcis Caldwell’s Book “Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking” which I reviewed for my site earlier this year. I will not be posting the directions/recipe not because I want to be mean or petty, but as this is a new book I think you should get a copy as a companion book for your other books.
The make starts out almost the same as any other make, you heat the milk to a certain temperature then ripen, but here Gialaclis has you add the culture at one temperature then rise to another and then ripen. This helps the cultures to wake up and be active prior to the ripening timing. Once you have ripened the milk, then you add your rennet and again wait for your clean break and so forth (I love going out to Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese as they always have some work for you to do with other cheeses while you wait) I broke my high score on Santa Blast on my iPad.
Now comes the interesting part of the process, you heat some water to the temperature in the recipe, yes it must be non-chlorinated (boil it if you have to), then you remove whey from the vat. The amount will be specific to the directions in the recipe. In this case I removed 1/3rd of the whey. I drank some and then dumped the rest. You can save it for ricotta or for brine, but he rest will be useless for ricotta. Then you add 1 cup at a time to raise the temperature of the whey in the vat to the prescribed temperature., in my case it took 3 cups of 70C water to hit the mark. To be honest the next part is just like any other cheese, you stir for a bit, then you let it settle then you drain and hoop. I chose to do something different. I chose to press in the cheesecloth using the “Stilton Knot”(Gianaclis Caldwell has a section in her book about it and on her site here)
Now the directions state that you should press using the same weight of the cheese, then double, triple for the last press. I could not use my normal press for this, so I had to improvise something.
It is the waiting that is the hardest thing to do. Luckily it was the start of my Christmas Break so I had some things I could do around the house and I could play with my children.
It then went into a brine bath for 9 hours (3-4 hours per pound), I have some pictures, but who hasn’t seen a brining cheese. As always I have more pictures on Much To Do About Cheese’s Facebook page here. Then it was up early and I took it out of the brine for a little picture show.
I air-dried this little beauty for a day and then it was into the cave for a few days while I decided how I would age it. I could try my hand at waxing it (which I suck at and I would lose some of the features to the wax), I could vacuum seal it, or I could do a natural rind with a bit of a spice oil mix. So I chose to rub the rind with a mix of Olive Oil, Kosher Salt and Turmeric.
Now comes the hard part, the waiting I am hoping to do a follow-up on the Gouda when I open it up for tasting. When that happens I will have tasting notes and the rest will be vacuum sealed for further aging. I love aged gouda, or I just might give some to Sailor Rick to put in the smoker and see how that turns out.
In the mean time go make some cheese!