Cheese Making Recipe of the Month
This cheese is traditionally made in the valley of Abondance, France. It's produced in small quantities after the cows come down off the high summer pastures and into the barns in the valley during the cold months.
It's history can be traced back to the 1400s. Today the only real Vacherin d'Abondance is made from a single producer in the valley. In 2005 production had ceased, until 2015 when a young man took it upon himself to bring this wonderful cheese back to life.
This special cheese is traditionally ready in the winter season and ripens to almost a spoonable consistency. It is contained only by a strip of bark from the local alpine forest.
We hope you enjoy our newest recipe and have as much fun making this wonderful cheese as we do.
Cheese Making Questions & Answers
Are there any botulism concerns with using fresh herbs/spinach inside the cheese?
Q. I'm wanting to make your Sage Derby cheese… are there any botulism concerns with using fresh herbs/spinach inside the cheese?
A. You definitely want to choose very fresh healthy ingredients and wash well, then blanch before using.
Can I make Ricotta from cheddar whey?
Q. I just made my first cheese - farmhouse cheddar. Everything worked great, and my mold overflowed with curds. However, I tried in vain for several hours to make ricotta from the good amount of whey that I produced.
I carefully heated the whey and watched the temperature religiously right up into the 195-200°F range and held it there, but I never saw more than very tiny little curds precipitate. In desperation, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice, to no avail.
A. Ricotta is comprised of different proteins from the cheese curds. They are released from the whey due to heating.
Those little bits moving out around the rim ARE your ricotta trying to form. Adding the lemon juice defeated them and the hard little bits you collected were the result. In general, ricotta needs a sweet whey and adding the lemon juice probably made things too acidic.
Patience is important here because it will take about 20 minutes, when at temperature, for them to unite and float to the surface where you can scoop the mass off. Adding more acid and stirring a bit too much will defeat the process.
If I put lipase powder in a farmhouse cheese, would it make it sharper?
Q. If I put lipase powder in a farmhouse cheese, would it make it sharper so I would not have to age it so long?
A. The sharpness from a cheddar is mostly from protein breakdown (protease), whereas, lipase is an enzyme that focuses on changing the lipids or fat in cheese.
So, no, lipase in cheddar will not give you an early aging cheese. This is not to say that there is no natural lipase working in cheddar, but the dominance is the protease activity.
Acidity testing vs pH testing?
Q. I'm just starting to make aged cheeses and I'm wondering what you think of acidity testing vs pH testing?
A. PH and acid titration measure distinctly different elements in the milk whey or cheese. You will find both measures mixed among cheese making books.
We measure the titration of the milk while it ripens until adding the rennet. This is because there is very little acid produced and the titratable acidity will show a greater change. If you were to try to measure this with a pH meter, you might only find a half-point change.
Once the process is underway and a greater amount of acid is being produced, the pH meter seems to be the most convenient tool.
However, in the final stages when the cheese is in the more solid curd stage, it is difficult to read the pH because the meters work best in a liquid. We then collect a bit of the whey running from the cheese and measure that.
One note: The best cheese makers can tell just by tasting and observing the texture. Remember, the tools we use are not that old compared to the history of cheese.
Have a cheese making question, we're here for you: email@example.com
Meet a Fellow Cheese Maker
Sue Cummings in Kalispell, Montana
Sue's family goes way back in the history of Montana - they were homesteaders in one of the most inaccessible areas of our country.
Sue herself is a bit of a pioneer. When she decided to learn cheese making, there were no resources whatsoever in Montana. Undaunted, she traveled to Vermont to learn what she could at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese (which, unfortunately has since closed).
Now, she raises Nubians and she has become a very accomplished cheese maker. She has even created her own cheese which she calls "Florentine," and last winter, she graciously shared her recipe with us.
News From Fellow Cheese Makers
I am a cheese making hobbyist and a devotee of your website. I recently made Robiola, pictured here, from the recipe on your website. This is a great cheese - quick and easy to make, and when we ate it after 10 days of aging, we were sold!
This recipe deserves a shout out for anyone who wants an impressive cheese in a hurry. It makes two disks of cheese.
We took one out at 10 days and loved it. I tried to age the second disk for another 10 days, but it was not as tasty as the younger version. Plus, mold growth was a problem after 15 days.
My advice: eat it at 10-15 days for a delicious, easy to make, and fast cheese. We ate it sliced, cubed in salads, and shredded over tostadas.
Paulette Walker, West Chester, Ohio
Making Cheese Platters in Pakistan
This is a month of Ramazan for muslims and we all fast.* One day more to go then we will celebrate Eid festival for 3 days (6/27-29). For this Eid, I introduced a cheese platter, which was a big hit and we all are over-busy with orders. It's going to be a tsunami for the next few months. People are using it as gifts and an addition for their dining tables.
* We call it "Roza." It starts before dawn, around 3:30 am and ends at sunset, around 7 pm. Between 7 pm til 3 am we can eat whatever we like. But, once it starts before dawn, we are not allowed to eat or drink, not even a sip. It seems tough, but once started, we enjoy the atmosphere of rituals. The night before, everyone is out shopping for clothes and shoes. During the day, there are family reunions and parties.
Imran Saleh, Lahore, Pakistan - We have done several blog articles about Imran
Please send your cheese making news & photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org