Beaufort Cheese Making Recipe
- 12.5 Gallons of Milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1/4 tsp MA011 Culture or 2 Packets C101 Mesophilic Culture
- 3/8 tsp TA061 Culture
- 1/16 tsp LH100 Culture
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Single Strength Liquid Rennet
- Salt and Calcium Chloride for a Brine
- Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)
- Good Thermometer
- Knife to Cut Curds
- Spoon or ladle to Stir Curds
- 2 M2 Large Hard Cheese Molds
- Butter Muslin
- Cheese Press (or weights totaling 400 lbs to consolidate the curds)
- Beaufort Info
- Q & A
Beaufort Cheese Making Recipe
In this recipe we're focusing on Beaufort style cheese that's produced in the Tarentaise mountains surrounding Mt. Blanc and the heart of the French Ski Country. This is one of my favorite cheeses and I have spent a bit of time with the cheese makers at the high mountain chalets during the morning and afternoon milkings, the cheese making sessions, and in the salting and aging caves.
This recipe is be for 12.5 gallons of milk which makes two cheeses, each about 5.5-6 pounds. These are much smaller than the 90-110 pound traditional Beaufort cheese.
This recipe can easily be cut in half for a single cheese. I'm also using a simple plastic cheese mold rather thans a traditional adjustable wooden hoop mold that's common in the mountains (see our Gruyere recipe for details on using wooden hoop molds)
Heat & Acidify Milk
Heat 12.5 gallons of whole milk to 90F.
Once heated add cultures and let ripen at 90F for 30 minutes.
Mesophilic 1/4 tsp (0.7 gms) MA011 or 2 packets of C101 culture
Develops initial acidity at the lower temperatures
Thermophilic 3/8 tsp (0.7 gms) TA061 or 3 packets of C201 culture
Develops the acidity at the higher temps, post cooking and early stages of pressing
Helveticus LH 100 1/16 tsp (0.2 gms) LH 100
For proteolysis (protein breakdown) during aging, responsible for the fabulous texture of mountain style Gruyere
- Mesophilic 1/4 tsp (0.7 gms) MA011 or 2 packets of C101 culture
Coagulate with Rennet
After the culture has ripened, add 1 tsp (5 ml) of single strength liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool non-chlorinated water.
The first signs of flocculation will begin at 27 minutes. The curd should be ready to cut at 33 minutes.
This will be a very soft curd, this allows for a small curd cut of 1/4 inch and smaller. This is typical of the longer aged alpine cheeses as well as the Parma style cheeses of Italy.
Cut Curds & Release Whey
Initially, cut the curd vertically into a 3/4 -1 inch grid. After cutting, let the curd rest for 2-3 minutes, whey will rise in cuts while it rests.
Next, cut the curd into 1/4 inch cubes. I do this with a very loose whisk.
This small curd size allows more whey to release which enables a longer aging period for the finished cheese.
Cook the Curds
Heat the curds slowly to 128-130F over 40 minutes. Gently stir the curds while heating, be sure the curds do not mat together.
The final curd size should be a rice/barley size. When the final curd moisture is reached the whey can be removed down to the curd level. Save the whey for the next step v.
Note: To heat the curds I use a jacketed kettle, pumping water from another pot keeping the temp about 20 F. higher than my target temp.
Form the Curds
Line two cheese molds with cheesecloth. Place the lined molds into a deep pan. Pour the drained whey into the cheese modls, then transfer the curds and remaining whey into the cheese molds.
Allow the whey to accumulate so the curds can be pressed under whey.
Place 25 pounds ontop of each mold for 30 minutes. Pressing under the whey helps the curd consolidate evenly and eliminates small mechanical holes.
Remove cheese molds from the whey, unmold the curds, flip and re-mold. The final pressing is done without the whey (save whey for Serac, see below).
Increase weight over 2 hours to 100 pounds for each cheese, unmold, flip and re-mold the cheese each time the weight in increaded.
Continue pressing at the final weight for 6-8 hours. Keep the temperature in the 80's to allow acidity to continue developing.
When pressing is done, remove the weights and cheese mold. Allow the cheese to cool and rest for 24 hours before brining.
You should have a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese. You will find all of the details you need on brining here.
A simple brine formula is: 1 Gallon of water to which is added 2 lbs of Salt, 1 tbs. Calcium Chloride (30% solution), and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
Place the cheese in a saturated brine for 10-12 hours. The cheese will float so sprinkle the top with a small amount of salt and flip half way through the brining time.
The cheese should be dried off when taken from brine and moved to the aging space at 90% RH and 52-54F.
Rind development for a washed rind cheese:
In about 7-10 days a surface mold will develop, this needs to be wiped down with a saturated brine at 3-6 day intervals to start.
For a large Beaufort the surface is sprinkled with salt, allowed to develop its own brine, and this is rubbed into the surface on the next day.
The cheese should be turned and the cycle repeated.
A red rind will form in time and the rind treatment will become less.
The aging will take 6 -14 months depending on flavor desired.
Bonus Recipe: Serac
Similar to ricotta a whey cheese called Serac is made in the mountains. It is somewhat sweeter due to the lower acid of the whey run off from this cheese.
Filter the Whey through butter muslin and heat to 185F. Allow to rest at 185F for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, ladle curds that have floated to the surface into small basket cheese molds. The cheese should drain and cool in the molds.
This is a fresh cheese and can be enjoyed once cooled.
Beaufort, Comte & Abondance
The three cheeses (Abondance, Beaufort, and Comte) have all evolved due to the need to make a few large cheeses from a collective community herd high in the mountains (Alpage) during the summer months.
Due to high temperature scalding, the elastic curds are made dry for a long aging and to accommodate traveling and the rough journey down into the valley markets. They are all quite similar but do have defining differences in size, process temperatures, and even the cultures used.