A little over a year ago, Rick from Explorations With Sailor Rick, and I ventured out to Smoky Valley Artisan/Goat Cheese to make cheese with Leslie and Alex. We were making a batch of Emmental, with hopes that it would be ready for market that spring. It would be called the Duffer and though it did not develop eyes it still was a great cheese. So with 2013 drawing to a close and I had time to make one last cheese. As I mentioned in my review of Debra Amrein-Boyes’ “200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes – 2nd Edition”, I was going to be making her Emmental recipe or, given Emmental is a protected name, a YEGmental. It just so happens I had 26 litres of milk kicking around, it was almost like I planned it
When I read over the recipe it actually called for 32 litres of milk, but I had to adjust it for the vat size I had. I could have done up to 28 Litres but I settled on 26. The recipe called for the non descriptive “Thermophilic culture” but through my research and the make last year, I decided on TA61 and LH100 which is essentially a “Themo C” with a few extra strains of bacteria in it. My friend Addie is working in India for the next few months and I was honoured to be asked to look after his roaster vat while he was away, it would be a shame to let it gather dust. So it was time to fire up both vats and get this cheese started.
This is where I miss-read the recipe, the recipe said to process half the milk, then do the next batch, while keeping the curd warm, I started the second batch 10 mins after the first batch started. After trying to cut curd and stir two vats at once I can see why it was supposed to be a one at a time job, if you do try to split the batch and do both at the same time don’t be afraid to ask for help or have a cheese making party, it really a two person job. One thing I did that helped was I had duplicate setups for the culture/CaCl2/Rennet (1 set up per vat)
Having the separate setups helped especially given the vats were about 10 mins apart on each stage. This did not help when it cam to cutting the curd and stirring the curd, I did use an another slotted spook for stirring but the skimmer did move from vat to vat to check on the curd. The curd size was to be pea/rice size so using a whisk was the best option.
Once the curd was stirred and “cooked” it was time to get it into the mould and press it. I wanted to get the curd into the mould while it was still warm, I did not stop to take pictures. I used some of my Ply-Ban cheese cloth for the first pressing. It did leave some crevices in the cheese, so for the last pressing it was pressed without the cloth. This time I pressed the cheese in the basement, this way I did not have to barricade the press so my daughter would not knock it over and hurt herself….or the cheese.
After 18 hours it was time to pull the cheese out of the press and find out how much it weighed, this way I could decide how long to brine the cheese for. The recipe called for 24 hours on one side and 24 hours on the other. This seemed a little too much for me, through other sources I learned that for an Emmental you should brine at 2.5 hours per pound. Some people wonder why we add salt to the cheese, in this case through the brine, it does add to the flavour and will help to slow the cultures so they don’t over acidify the cheese. There is a misconception that when you brine a cheese the salt is only on the surface or rind of the cheese, in fact it does penetrate into the cheese through the moisture contained in the curd (through osmosis). You will get less salt than if you directly salted the curd, but it is still in the cheese. Cutting off the rind does not eliminate the salt content in the cheese.
Lets do the math shall we? The cheese is roughly 6 1/2 pounds x 2.5 hours/pound = 16 1/4 hours in the brine flipping at the 8 hour mark. It was in the morning of 31 January so I know had a reason to be up at Midnight….to take the cheese out of the brine. It was interesting to see how much weight the cheese had lost from its time in the brine.
Now it was time to air dry for 1 to 2 days, given how dry our winters are I new it would only take a day or so, then it can go into the cold ageing phase of ripening.
It only took a day and a half to dry, the crevices that were left by the Ply-Ban enlarged some, but they did not seem to cause any major cracks in the cheese. The rind seems to be shaping up, but there was some significant weight loss this time.
Now my lovely YEGmental was ready for the cool ageing phase, for the next two weeks it will be aged at 10 – 12 C, flipped every day and washed with a simple brine to help firm up the rind. After that it will be taken from the fridge and aged in the basement at 16-18 C for a month to allow for Proprionic bacteria that was added during ripening to do its job and create eyes or holes in internal paste of the cheese.
Part two will cover the cool ageing and the warm ageing phase of this cheese’s life so please check back in about a month or so to see how things are progressing. I will have more photos on the Much To Do About Cheese Facebook Page later in the week. I am not waiting long for the first cheese making session for 2014, it is happening tomorrow.
Until next time go and make some cheese, I know I will be.