This past weekend I took my first steps on my journey as a “Professional” Cheese Maker, and spent two days making cheese an hour outside of Edmonton at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese. Saturday was a semi-firm cheese day and Sunday was a Brie day (thankfully I was not the lead on that make). All my pictures are from the make on Saturday and a few from Sunday, unfortunately I did not get any pictures from the Brie make as I was the student and I was more focused on learning the Smoky Valley way of making the Brie. Here is how my weekend went:
Saturday – Edgar, Elizabeth, Cardiff or Bring You Mould To Work Day.
Saturday started early, I made the hour trek out to the farm, music blaring in my Jeep, all the time singing along with the music. The drive is relatively easy and quiet that early in the morning and the scenery is nice. I arrived then had a coffee with Leslie and Alex and then got into the cheese room and started the cleaning regiment. If you think it is a pain to clean up just to make cheese at home, take that and multiply that cleaning by 1000. We cleaned all the surfaces then moved on to the draining table and all the moulds. Cleaning is one of the most important parts of the daily routine, one of the things that you could get in trouble with the health inspector. One that was done we moved on to washing some of the cheese. The szendi-moon, a honey & lavender rubbed cheese, had to be cleaned up so it could be coated and ready for market. The Gruyère style cheese that we made on April 7th with the previous cheese making class had to be brushed. All this was going on while we were brining the milk to temperature and then we had the milk ripening. Then after we added the rennet it was time to have lunch while the curd set, then we could check for a clean break and begin.
So as you can see it was time to put on the cutting harps and then cut the curd
Next I worked the curd by had to get it to the right texture, that took almost an hour as we raised the temperature slowly. Then came the draining and time to cheddar the curds. We laid out the curd in the bottom of the vat, then cut it into smaller slabs.
It was now time to check for the first flip of the curd, eventually the curd will be stacked and then milled after some time and the texture is right.
After all that we divided the milled curd into 3 batches. One batch of curd would be soaked in a locally produced red wine (To be named Edgar after Leslie’s Father), One with a locally produced honey mead (Do be called Elizabeth after Leslie’s Mother), the other would get a mix of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and chives (to be called Cardiff). Then it was time to clean again, I scrubbed and cleaned the vat and lids while the curd soaked. I called it “Bring your mould to work day” because I brought one of my cheese moulds from home. It was one I got for my Birthday, and I have yet to use it so this was a great opportunity.
After we hooped the cheese we then put the moulds in for a long press and called it a day. Alex would come out in 6 hours to flip the cheese, redress the cheesecloth and then call it a night. I had to be there again bright an early because Sunday was Brie Day!
Sunday – Birth of Bo Go Double Cream Brie and Un-Moulding the Family.
Traffic was extremely light on the way out to the farm, if it wasn’t for the fact I left a little later than I had wanted to you I would have stopped and taken pictures of the some of the misty scenery. I arrived and we had to get ready right away. We transferred the milk to the vat and started to pasteurize the milk. I know you are say wait I thought you make raw milk cheese? Yes we do, but by law any cheese that is aged lest than 60 days (which most soft cheeses are) have to be made with pasteurized milk. It was an education on how to pasteurize and to how to cool down the milk after the process. While that was going on we had to un-mould yesterday’s cheeses and get them into the ageing rooms. Then we had to…you guessed it continue cleaning.
After the pasteurising was done we added the extra cream to the Cow and Goat Milk combination and then mixed it thoroughly. I then learned the Smoky Valley way of making Brie. It was a lot of waiting to be honest. We added the culture then the rennet and then waited an hour for the set, it was not a firm as we wanted to we waited another hour. It was still soft, probably due to the cream. We then cut the curd and stirred gently for a bit. The curd did seem to firm up to where we wanted it to be, still soft but not as soft as to run out of the hoops. We then hooped the curd and had them on the draining table draining. If all works well we should get 75 to 90 Brie out of this batch. Ihelped Leslie with flipping the Brie two times before I had to leave for the day. What a weekend, I learned so much that I did not know about producing cheese on a large-scale.
Next weekend I will be at the Edmonton City Hall Market selling Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese, If you are in the area stop by and say hi, try some cheese, buy some cheese.
The next Cheese Making Day will be May 19, which is the Cheese Making Class. We have had some cancellations, so we do have room for more people. For more information go to the Cheese Making Classes page
I will have some extra pictures up on Much To Do About Cheese’s Facebook page.
Go make some cheese!