Little Squirrel In A Jar: Semi-Lactic Cheese Experiment

I am constantly on the look out for new techniques to try with my cheesemaking, so when I heard of David Asher’s blog and his upcoming book, The Art Of Natural Cheesemaking, I just had to check things out.  He recently posted his version of a Mason Jar Marcellin, a true lactic cheese that used raw milk and natural Geotrichum to ripen the milk.  I don’t have access to raw milk but I figured that I might be able to make a version using store milk.  20150626_190448

Though it may not be true to the original vision or spirit of David Asher’s version, but I think I may be on track with my “Little Squirrel In A Jar” version.One of my main issues I have with making lactic cheeses, is the salt.  I either put too much or not enough, so I have started using a technique I learned while working with Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese, I added the salt to the milk and then heated it.

Day 0:

I placed 1.5 tbsp of salt in the bowl and added 4 liters of homogenized milk.

I placed 1.5 tbsp of salt in the bowl and added 4 liters of homogenized milk.

I heated the milk to 25 Celsius and literally added a pinch of culture and geo.

I heated the milk to 25 degrees Celsius and literally added a pinch of culture to it.

After adding it into the milk it was time to go to the ripening fridge

After adding it into the milk it was time to go to the ripening fridge.

Day 1:

The next day I took a pinch of rennet I am trialling and mixed it with some distilled water and then added it to the milk.  The bowl was placed back into the fridge

Day 2:

There was whey pooling on the surface.  I sprinkled a pinch of Geotrichum and Penicillium Candidum in the whey.

There was whey pooling on the surface. I sprinkled a pinch of Geotrichum and Penicillium Candidum in the whey.

Day 4:

I had ripened the cheese at 23 degrees Celsius, the temperature in my unplugged ripening fridge.  This proved to be a good thing as on Day 4 I was greeted with a Geotrichum Bloom.

You can see the Geotrichum bloom mixed in with the whey

You can see the Geotrichum bloom mixed in with the whey

There was a good bit of whey around the edges.

There was a good bit of whey around the edges.

Next time I will give the cheese another day after the Geotrichum bloom.

Next time I will give the cheese another day after the Geotrichum bloom.

The curd was amazing and strong.

The curd was amazing and strong.

I used a draining bag and one of my ripening boxes.

I used a draining bag and one of my ripening boxes.

Back to the fridge it went for 48 hours of draining at 18 Celsius.

Back to the fridge it went for 48 hours of draining at 18 degree Celsius.

Day 6:

After 2 days of draining the curd was the right consistency to be packed into small mason jars and put back into a 10 degree Celsius fridge until the secondary bloom happened.

After all was said and done, I ended up with 11 mason jars of cheese

After all was said and done, I ended up with 11 mason jars of cheese

It was a bit messy but not that hard to get the curd in the jar.

It was a bit messy but not that hard to get the curd in the jar.

All but one were filled up the "ring" line.

All but one were filled up the “ring” line.

Day 8:

I was excited to see that by day 9 the secondary bloom had started, but I would give it until day 9 before I put the lids on.

Day 9:

Now was the time to put the lids on the cheese to create their own “Micro Caves” and finish aging at between 3 – 5 degrees Celsius.

I was surprised at how well the Geotrichum had "came back" with this secondary bloom

I was surprised at how well the Geotrichum had come back with this secondary bloom

Every cheese had a nice fuzzy coating.

Every cheese had a nice fuzzy coating.

There were some gaps in the in the jar, but it added to the "homemade" feel to it.

There were some gaps in the in the jar, but it added to the “homemade” feel to it.

Now the cheeses had their lids put on and then they go into the fridge.

Now the cheeses had their lids put on and then they go into the fridge.

They will now sit in the fridge for another month before they should be “ready.”

Update – One Week In The Fridge

I don’t have a picture, but I did sample some of the cheese from one of the jars that I labeled “tester” and so far it is on track.  You get a peppery flavour from the Geotrichum surface and a mild lactic flavour from the paste.  It is soft in some parts and a little firm in others.  I can’t wait to see what they will be like after another 3 weeks.  I am glad I have 10 more to sample.

Ian Logo

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3 comments

  1. This sounds like an excellent and fascinating experiment. I hope the results are as expected or better. I wonder if one could make other cheeses this way too – Cheddar for example.

    Please be sure to keep the story going so we can all learn from you.

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