Cheese Making Questions & Answers
What's the best way to save up my milk?
Q. I get a quart a day of sweet milk from my Nigerian dwarf. What's the best way to save up my milk? Can I just freeze it or will that mess it up? I am now holding it for 4-5 days before making cheese.
A. In general, milk does not freeze well for cheese making. It tends to separate upon thawing. Raw milk like yours tends to undergo some structural changes to the protein if kept for more than 2 to 3 days. This makes it a bit problematic for cheese making.
One note about storing your milk - never add warm milk to refrigerated milk. Make sure you chill the fresh milk before mixing it in with milk that has already been cooled.
What cheeses are good to coat in ash?
Q. What cheeses are good to coat in ash? How about Colby?
A. Whenever you consider any aspect of the cheese process, you need to know what the functional reason for it is. Sometimes it may be just cosmetic and other times there is an actual reason for doing it.
Quite commonly, ash or activated charcoal is used on the surface of a cheese to protect the surface as well as to reduce the acidity of the surface in preparation for any flora that is soon to follow. Usually it is used for mold ripened cheeses like Camembert.
It would be wasted on a cheese like Colby or any similar cheese.
I want a Camembert mold, but one that has a top and a bottom?
Q. I am wanting a Camembert mold, but one that has a top and a bottom which would make it easier to invert, if this is possible. I have seen your Camembert mold but it does not have a top or bottom and the Brie mold only has a follower.
A. The molds we sell are all open ended because this is a cheese that needs serious room for whey to drain. It is the same mold used by the Camembert industry in France.
We recommend using a firm board laid down on the draining area, followed by a fine draining mat and then the form to be filled. Top the curd filled mold with another draining mat followed by the hard board again.
When ready to turn, grab the entire assemblage, give it a quick shake to loosen up the base followed by a quick flip to the new surface. Then place back on the draining surface until you need to turn it again. (Best to look at the Camembert recipe page for details.)
I purchased the thermo-hygrometer, how do I get to 85 to 90% humidity?
Q. I purchased the thermo-hygrometer you sell and it works very easily. But how do I get to 85 to 90% humidity? I am using a bowl of water in my wine refrigerator.
A. It can be difficult to maintain humidity above 80-85% in an open space like that. It is even more difficult when a lot of this is empty space. The best way is to give it time to stabilize and use the max/min button on the hygrometer to see what your highest and lowest levels are when the box is closed.
As soon as you open the door, all of that moist air flows out and you get a low reading. We recommend using covered plastic boxes inside the refrigerator to keep moisture at the 90-95% level.
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Meet a Fellow Cheese Maker
Brooke Moore (14) in Taupo, New Zealand
Brooke has been baking since she was 2 years old! By the age of 8, she had full control of her mother's kitchen on weekends.
Now, she is a master chef (at least in our eyes) with a unique style of cooking. She hopes someday soon to have her own restaurant and she is now in the process of planning every detail.
You will probably not be surprised to hear that she is a cheese maker and, so far, she has made Mozzarella, Bocconcini, Mascarpone, Ricotta, Ricotta Salata and Halloumi.
When you see her pictures on Instagram (@the_flambeed_fig) and in our blog article about her, you will know why we are in complete awe of her talent!
News From Fellow Cheese Makers
Luigi's Fabulous Wedding Cake
We posted a blog interview with Luigi Stranges in 2014 and he sent us this update:
About a year ago a good friend of mine asked me to make a cheesecake for his daughter's wedding. I quickly replied that I do not bake! "No, no," he said, "she wants you to make some cheese wheels and stack them like a cake."
I had never heard of this before, so I went home to look on the internet and found hundreds of different pictures over the next week. Although a few were decent, I really didn't find anything that jumped out at me. About a week later, I told him that I would help her but that I would make my own display of the cheese and then they could decorate it.
A few months later, the city cut down a walnut tree behind my mother's house and once I saw it on the ground, I had an idea for my stand. After a few weeks of being on the ground, my son and I went to pick up some large logs and I began to make my cheese display.
I invited my friend and his daughter to my house after it was done for a quick preview and they loved it! When I saw it at their wedding, all decorated, it was beautiful! Everyone was commenting on it and saying how they had never seen something like that at a wedding.
Now, almost a year later, my niece is getting married and after my brother and sister-in-law saw the pictures, they asked me if I would do one for her!
Luigi Stranges, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Larry Todd - Moved from Montana to Texas
We posted a blog interview with Larry Todd in 2010 and he sent us this update:
We just moved to Texas in March to be around and help with one of our granddaughters (shown at right). I haven’t made cheese in a couple of years, but I am able to get raw milk here so brought my equipment.
I made a small gouda with raw milk a month ago. It was an experiment; not sure if it will turn out. Just finished a Hispanico. It was with raw milk that I pasteurized. (I’ve already asked Jim Wallace a question, so I guess I’m back to making some cheese.)
My latest Camembert is a triple cream (nearly so) with pasteurized (145-8F) raw milk. I meshed your recipe and one that I have done before. I may not have gotten enough cream in it to be a certified triple cream, but it's close.
The top is slower to develop the white mold because I got too much salt on it. The humidity makes the salt stick together. Coming from Montana, I didn't have to deal with clumpy salt.
But it is coming around. It looks great. In another month or 6-weeks we'll try it out.
Larry Todd, The Colony, Texas
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