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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.