The Cheese Gets The Strap – Spruce Wrapped Reblochon Take 2!

My first attempt at using spruce straps for my cheese turn out better than I could have hoped!  Unfortunately there were a few friends, well one in particular, that would not be able to try the previous batch of cheese, so in all fairness I had to make more.  So it was time to fire up the cheese vat and get make some Victoria Day Long Weekend cheese!

Cheese Vat

My trusty “Roaster Vat” starting to warm the milk.

My only problem with this make is that I cannot find the same beer that I used that last time, but I have some time to find it.As usual I had everything set up ready to go prior to the make.

next draining staion

I set up a separate draining-pressing station to reduce the mess.

All the moulds

For this make I wanted to use 6, Saint-Marcellin Moulds and my 2 Reblochon moulds

It was early morning when I started.  I had to take a picture of the light on the moulds.

It was early morning when I started. I had to take a picture of the light on the moulds.

I bought the milk the day before, and I put a pinch of mesophilic culture in each jug to “pre-culture” the milk.  I would add the remaining thermophilic culture during the make, along with the PLA.

Culturing the milk.

Modern Art? No, just the cultures rehydrating on the milk.

I had a new shipment of Lamb Rennet, time to use it.  It gave a great sharpness to the cheese the last time.

I had a new shipment of Lamb Rennet, time to use it. It gave a great sharpness to the cheese the last time.

Armed with a timer and my rennet it was time to get my flocculation on.

Armed with a timer and my rennet it was time to get my flocculation on.

This cheese has a low flocculation multiplier (2.5) so the cheese does not have a hard set like some of the other cheeses.

Just a quick reminder of what flocculation is: “Flocculation is widely employed to measure the progress of curd formation while in the initial stages of making many cheeses to determine how long the curds must set” – Wikipedia

A spinning sterilized milk cap helps to tell me when the curd has started to form.

A spinning sterilized milk cap helps to tell me when the curd has started to form.

I added 2 litres of heavy cream to the 12 litres of 2% milk I used.  You can see the butterfat on the surface of the milk.

I added 2 litres of heavy cream to the 12 litres of 2% milk I used. You can see the butterfat on the surface of the milk.

I had a floc time of 14 minutes x 2.5, which means I cut the curd at 35 mins from adding the rennet.

I had a floc time of 14 minutes x 2.5, which means I cut the curd at 35 mins from adding the rennet.

When it was time I cut the curd into 3/4 inch cubes then let the curd rest for five minutes, then I took a whisk and cut the curd again.  I was looking to make the curd about 1/4 inch or rice size.  I know people who use their curd knife, but a whisk is faster and easier use.  You don’t need to cook the curd, but you do have to stir it.  You stir the curd for 5 to 15 minutes, this may seem like a random number but there is a method to the madness.  You are looking for the curd to be springy, still mat in your hand but not form a hard skin.   It took me 10 minutes of stirring to get a result I was happy with.  I then let the curd rest for another 10 minutes and let it settle to the bottom of the vat.

It may seem like there is too much whey in the moulds, but this is how it should be.

It may seem like there is too much whey in the moulds, but this is how it should be.

The formula/recipe that I use, says that it is important to add the curds with whey into the moulds, this helps with the acid development.  It does not take long for the whey to drain from the moulds and they are a lightly pressed cheese so that helps too.

I stacked the Saint-Marcillin Moulds to begin with to help with pressing.

I stacked the Saint-Marcellin Moulds in the beginning to help with pressing.

After enough whey had drained away it was time to add some weight to start pressing.  Small cans of beans and mushrooms did the trick.

My not so free weights, they were cheap though.

My not so free weights, they were cheap though.

After 4 hours of pressing the weights were removed and they were placed my small cheese fridge overnight.  They were still in their moulds, but with the followers removed and the fridge was at 16 C.  The next day I had to soak the spruce straps in near boiling water for 30 to 60 minutes so they would be soft and pliable.  Only then could I wrap them around the cheese.

Here are the spruce straps before they are soaked.

Here are the spruce straps before they are soaked.

Here is one ready to be wrapped around a cheese

Here is one ready to be wrapped around a cheese

Sorry for the foggy picture, but this is from the steam coming off the strap.

Sorry for the foggy picture, but this is from the steam coming off the strap.

You can see that I can now wrap the wood around the cheese.

You can see that I can now wrap the wood around the cheese.

I have tried a few ways, the last time I used a nice rustic twine.  It turned kind of nasty with mould so I switched them out for elastic bands.  They did the job, but they just didn’t look right.

I used toothpicks as little spikes to hold the straps in place.  I cannot take credit for this, it was a suggestion given to me by a friend.

I used toothpicks as little spikes to hold the straps in place. I cannot take credit for this, it was a suggestion given to me by a friend.

The first time I wrapped cheese with spruce it took what seemed like forever, this time it took about 20 minutes.  I have 8 cheeses and used 9 straps to wrap the cheeses, I still have 3 left over.  I have a plan for those, but it is too early to tell if it will work.

Here are all 8 wrapped up and ready for the cave.

Here are all 8 wrapped up and ready for the cave.

They will now be in the “yeasting” fridge for the next 4-5 days, I am waiting for the Geotricum in the PLA to do its thing and have the first bloom.  This should give the cheese a slightly slimy feel to the rind.  This, though sounding gross, is a good thing.  It means I can drop the temperature down and start washing the rinds with the beer.

I will post when I start washing and I will have more pictures up and the Facebook page later in the week.

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17 comments

  1. Love it! You have a perfect handle on this classic recipe and strapping it with bark is a classic Savoyard combination. Glad the toothpick suggestion worked! Can’t wait to see those puppies ready! I wonder how the lamb rennet will turn out.

    1. The last batch turned out great, they exceeded my exceptions. I am really happy with the recipe and I am glad you convinced me to use the straps. Thanks Yoav!

  2. Looks great!!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    If you allow me I would make a remark about the way you calculate your total coagulation time. In my humble opinion if your flocculation multiplier is 2.5 and your flocculation time is 14 mins than your total coagulation has to be: 14 + (14 x 2.5) = 49 mins, with (14 x 2.5) standing for the hardening time. Just my 2 cts.

    1. Thanks I hope they turn out as well as the last batch. I see your point with the flocculation multiplier, the recipe I have has two multipliers. 1.5 for when you use it they way you wrote and 2.5 for total time. I was happy with the curd, but I am wondering if I should let it set longer. In Canada we have no legal access to raw milk so I have to use store bought milk, the longer set might give me a better curd.
      Thanks again you have given me something to think about for next time.

  3. This is so cool to see someone making a spruce wrapped cheese on a small scale, I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

    1. It is funny that I was kind of chicken to use the spruce for such a long time. This is the second batch I have made. If they turn out like the first batch I will be very happy.

    1. Thank you Kim. I add the cream to the vat at the same time as the milk, well before adding the rennet. When I fill the vat I alternate cream, milk, cream, milk until I have my full amount in it. I hope that helps.

      1. Thank for the reply. That is the order I thought it should happen but because you mentioned it after the rennetting, it made me think there was some strange new technique going on here that involved adding cream to the rennet (it seemed very strange) 😄

        Cheers
        K

  4. These look amazing. Great job! Question: what kind of racks are those white ones your curds are draining on? Thanks!

        1. I hope so, one of the perks of being an “amateur” is you get to experiment, I have a stainless steel rack too, it fits inside the draining bin.

          1. I know. I’m venturing into selling and trying to find the best (and most cost-effective) products. Stainless steel racks are better. I found out the hard way that the cooling racks I was using were chromed and rust easily….

          2. I totally understand, I tried cooling racks at first but not only did the coating wear off, they left black marks on the cheese. I am just happy my old fridge broke down, so I could use the racks.

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