Cheese Making Recipe of the Month
Jim's Catamount Gold
Here's an original recipe developed in our cheese caves, just for you. These small rounds of dairy richness are sure to delight with their beautiful rose colored rind and complex flavor.
Style-wise, it's hard to put this cheese into one box. It's journey begins as a semi-lactic cow's milk cheese with added cream, then, we mix things up by washing the curds, and finish it off with a fragrant washed rind. Yes, this cheese can be a bit of a stinker, literally, but in a really good way...
Cheese Making Questions & Answers
How vital is the inclusion of the geotrichum?
A. The geotrichum will dry off the surface after the initial yeast layer is established from the ambient environs. It will form a thin barrier and prevent other unwanted molds from establishing on the surface.
Should I worry about colored molds?
Q. I recently made the Alpine Tomme cheese and after the first week of curing in the cave, it developed an assortment of colored molds. I tried brushing it off, but was unsuccessful so I used a brine solution to try and clean the mold off.
While the mold itself (I think) was all removed and I haven't had a problem since (and the cheese smells right, too), the mold discolored the rind of the cheese and none of my efforts have been able to remove that. Is this a problem or do I not worry about it?
A. This was likely due to cave moisture being too high. Or, you just didn't get to the mold soon enough. Wiping with a fine dampened cloth earlier may have helped.
Mold will stain but it's not a problem. In fact, it makes your cheese look a bit more homemade.
Small pieces of curd broke away from the consolidated mass.
Q. I have been making cheese for about a year, using raw milk from my own goats. About 2 weeks ago I made Gruyere. When I took the cheese from the form for the first flip, small pieces of curd broke away from the consolidated mass. I re-wrapped the cheese and finished the process. At the second flip, a few more pieces came away. Now, I am aging it and I have mold growing in the divots around the curds.
A. Gruyere is one of those cheeses that should come together very easily and, within an hour, be pretty compact with a smooth, tight surface. Your description sounds like your curds were too dry going into the form. The openings will be a real problem - trying to keep clean from mold.
What do I do about dark spots?
Q.I recently made my first batch of Jack cheese using your instructions. It is in my cave which has a temperature of 52-54F and humidity of 78-85%. Dark spots, which I assume are mold, keep showing up.
I have scraped and cut them off, washed the cheese in a saturated brine and coated it with olive oil, but they return. Is this normal? All equipment was sanitized. The recipe doesn't call for the cheese to be waxed or wrapped. Is this an option for future batches?
A. The best method to keep a clean rind is to make sure you keep the surface clean early in the aging process. We recommend using a cloth dampened in a 6% brine. It's just enough to discourage the mold, but not enough to change the salt % in the cheese.
If you leave the moisture too high going into the form, mold will be a much bigger problem to control. Once the mold begins to form, it is hard to keep ahead of it and it will leave a dark stain even when removed.
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Meet a Fellow Cheese Maker
Bill Strelke in Fredericksburg, Texas
Bill Strelke is retired from a career in medical sales and marketing. When he was working, he often traveled to western Europe.
He became interested in making cheese when he first tasted Pecorino in the Tuscany region of southern Italy.
When he first saw the round wheels of cheese, they looked like "moldy cannon balls," because they were stored in ash. But, when he got up his nerve to taste the Pecorino, he knew he would soon be trying to make his own.
Flash forward several years, and now he has made a wide variety of cheeses including English Cheddar, Robiola, Colby, Hispanico, Peppa (with Jalapeño), Gouda and Mozzarella.
The moral is: Travel a lot and retire young!
News From Fellow Cheese Makers
Using a Slow Cooker
When making smaller batches of cultured dairy products (such as 30-minute mozzarella, yogurt, quark, and several other 1 - 1 1/2 gallon cheeses), I often use my slow cooker.
I unscrew the handle from the lid, then place either my waterproof digital thermometer or my timer thermometer probe through the hole.
Some slow cookers have a built-in steam vent hole, so removing the handle would be unnecessary. I usually tape down the probe wire to hold it in place.
I find this process gives me reliable, consistent results (without having to turn the stove on or create a water bath). It's a wonderful alternative for those without a conventional stove, small living spaces, or student dorm rooms. And, the clean-up is a breeze!
Kathy Love, Tucson, Arizona
Cheese, Pickle and Wine Cave
I bought a little wine cooler. It holds about 12 bottles. I took out the top shelf, and put the cheese in it at 55F. Since it's low in humidity, I added a tiny bowl of water and a washcloth to wick up the water.
I just finished my last Manchego style cheese and haven't had the chance to make more, but I have a few jars of fermenting vegetables in the back.
The humidifier concept is simple, and the desired humidity is governed by the length and number of cotton "wicks" used. I monitor the humidity and temperature with the hygrometer. If necessary (like when I have had the door open) I can spritz some extra distilled water in with a spray bottle.
Paul Runcy, Durham, New Hampshire
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