I have toyed with lactic blues over the past few months with varied success, but as 2014 drew to a close it was time to buckle down and make a proper blue. With so many choices, I thought the classics don’t go out of style and I have had requests for a certain English Blue for a while; so a Stiltonesque cheese it was to be.
Stilton, both Blue and White versions, have PDO status by the EU and can only be made in three counties (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire) in England, using pasteurized milk, to be considered Stilton. A Raw Milk version of Stilton, co-created by Randolph Hodgson of Neal’s Yard Dairy and American Joe Schneider, is called Stichelton because of the conditions of the Stilton PDO.
Would a Stilton by any other name smell as funkilishous? Would it taste as great? It was time to fire up the cheese vat and find out.
This time I was using some great milk, Vital Greens Non-Homogenized 3.5% Milk, so I wanted to make sure I did not waste it. So for this make I decided to use a tried and tested formula, Gianaclis Caldwell‘s version “Milled Curd Stilton-Style Blue Cheese” from Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. I went with her version than others that I have primarily because it was an eight litre recipe, and I really like her book. It was interesting to see that the cultures were added at a lower temperature than I was used to, and ripening in bundles was interesting, but I will get to that shortly.
I let the rennet do its thing for 75 min, 15 minutes longer than it should have taken, but I was not happy with the way the curd set when I check for a clean break at 60 minutes.
The next part of the make was ripening in bundles. This was a new concept for me, from what I could gather from my research was that the curd is delicate but still needs the pH to drop (or acidity to increase) and gently firm up at the same time. The curd is gently ladled into cheesecloth and then the cheesecloth is tied into bundles using the “Stilton Knot” and then they are placed back into the vat and allowed to ripen further as the whey drains from the bundles.
In various versions, the bundles are hung or placed on a board and the whey is allowed to drain away from the curd. This one said not to drain the whey from the vat, I have to admit I was skeptical about this, but I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible.
After 2 hours of ripening and draining the curd in the bundles had become quite firm and it was time to take them out and heat the “Slabs” to increase the acidity.
I inclined the insert in my vat and kept the heat on, the object was to heat the slabs and flip them every hour until they reached a specific pH. Sounds like cheddaring process to me, without the cutting or stacking.
It only took 2 hours to reach the pH I was looking for. I don’t have a pH meter so I have to interpret the pH strips based on the colour variations. It is like guessing but I have had enough practice with Cheddars and Caerphilly to be somewhat accurate. Now it was time to mill and salt the curd than place them in a mould to drain.
Stilton is not pressed in the traditional sense, it uses the weight of the curd to press the curd. I don’t own a proper Stilton Mould, but I do own a Camembert hoop so I pressed it into service.
The curds were flipped after 30 minutes, then again after 4 hours, then 12 hours, which would be at 10 AM the next day. After that you flip the cheese every day for 3-5 days while keeping it at 18-20 degrees celsius (room temperature).
I am happy with the way there are some gaps, I want the blue mould to take root in these nooks and crannies. Eventually I will smooth the rind in a process called “Rubbing Up”, where you use a knife to smooth the surface. I hope to shoot some video of this to share, if not I will have some pictures.
As this is the last day of 2014, I wanted to take the time to thank everyone that has visited Much To Do About Cheese over the past year. I am constantly surprised at the amount of traffic that this site gets, thank you I am honoured.