Fiore Rosso Cheese Making Recipe
Because thistle rennet is used, this cheese softens quickly and thoroughly while it's aged. It should be ready to enjoy in about 4-6 weeks, although it will become much softer with longer aging. Thistle rennet also creates a slightly different and unique flavor that is really enjoyable.
- 2 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
- 2-4 oz Heavy Cream (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
- 1/8 tsp MM 100 Culture
- 4 oz Prepared Bulgarian Yogurt
- 1/64 tsp GEO17 Geotrichum Candidum
- 1/16 tsp Bacteria Linens
- 5 ml Thistle Rennet
- Cheese Salt
- A few drops of Annatto (optional)
- Good Thermometer
- Mini Measuring Spoons
- Curd Knife
- Spoon or Ladle
- Butter Muslin
- 2 Basket Cheese Molds
- 2 lb Weights
- Draining Mat
- Fiore Rosso Cheese Info
- Q & A
How to Make Fiore Rosso Cheese
The following guideline is a hybrid developed by taking qualities from two types of cheese. I target this cheese through a mix and match of process, sort of like home brewers these days.
As I make the cheese here and present it to my friends, I am often met with "what kind of cheese is this?" That’s a tough question for me answer without a two hour discussion, so I say, well what does it taste like? Their response is how I measure my success.
This is a great guideline for intermediate cheese makers who have made a few cheeses and are ready to tackle the prep and care of a natural washed rind cheese.
Acidify & Heat Milk
Begin by heating the milk to 98F (35.5C). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well (but gently) as it heats.
Thistle rennet works differently than other rennets and we find, when using it, adding Calcium Chloride to ALL milks improves the firmness of coagulation.
Once the milk reaches 98F, add 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride and stir well. Then the cultures can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about two minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.
Allow the milk to sit until it goes still. There is no waiting/ripening period before adding the rennet in the next step.
Coagulate with Rennet
Note: This step is different than most other recipes, because there is not a substantial time for the cultures to work and produce acid before adding the rennet. Since thistle rennet works very slowly we add the rennet early, as soon as the culture is stirred in (about 1-1.5 hours earlier than the other types of rennet).
Add 5 ml of liquid THISTLE rennet and stir it in slowly.
Normally we try to stop the milk from moving at this point but since the thistle rennet works slowly in the beginning and there is no significant acid development, we need to stir intermittently for the first hour. Slowly stir every 3 minutes for the first 20-30 minutes, then allow the milk to go still and rest.
At about 1.25-1.5 hours from rennet addition the milk should begin to thicken but do not cut the curd yet. The full coagulation time from adding rennet is about 2.5-3 hours.
It is always best to check for a firm coagulation and if it seems to need longer allow it to go as much as 50% longer. If a longer time was needed, the next time you make this cheese, adjust the rennet amount (more rennet for a quicker set).
If the milk/curd drop below the target temperature you can heat it back to temp after cutting.
At this point your molds and drain cloth, as well as the draining area to be used should be cleaned and sanitized awaiting the finished curds.
Once the milk has set well, it is time to cut the curds smaller. This is the first step in reducing the curd moisture.
The curd cut will happen in two separate stages:
- Cut the curd mass vertically in both directions as evenly as possible at about 1.5” intervals, then allow the cut curd to rest for 5 minutes, so the cut curd surface can heal. Whey should rise over the curd surface during this time as seen in the photos above.
- Next cut the curds carefully to about 3/8-1/2” pieces taking about 5 minutes. Then let rest another 5 minutes.
If the temperature has dropped during coagulation and cutting, bring the temperature back up to 96F.
Cook & Transfer Curds
Note: If working in a cool space, consider using a water bath to maintain the original temperature.
This cheese requires a higher moisture in the final curd so only a brief, gentle stir is needed to dry the curd.
Slowly stir the curd for 5-10 minutes to dry the curds before molding. Do not allow the curds to settle or compact on the bottom of the vat.
Prior to molding, the curds should still feel very soft yet holding their shape. They should also have heft or weight in the hand yet are still feel quite fragile.
The feel for the finished curd will improve with each batch. The best way to improve your batches is to take good notes as you're making this cheese.
Remove the whey down to about 1” above the curds. Then transfer the curds quickly and carefully with a slotted spoon or ladle into cheese molds lined with butter muslin. The curd should be heaped above the top of the molds, they will settle quickly as they drain.
Because the final cheese is a high moisture cheese, little pressing is required.
- First pull up the cloth and fold it evenly over the draining curds to enclose and make them easier to handle. The draining cheese needs to be kept warm (78-80F)
- Allow the forms to drain 15 minutes with no weight.
- Without unwrapping, turn the cheese over with the cloth folds faced down. Place a 2 lb weight on each cheese for 30 minutes.
Note: You can stack the cheese in the molds for weight instead.
- Remove the cheese from the mold, unwrap, turn, rewrap and place back into the mold. Straighten or even out any creases in the cloth. Reapply the 2lb weight and allow to press for 60 minutes.
- Repeat step 3 but do not add any weights this time.
- Unwrap the cheese and place it in the mold with no weight ontop. Keep the cheese warm post-press, leave in a warm place at press temperature for another 4-6 hrs turning frequently. The temperature of your draining space will determine the drain time.
At the end of this cycle, the cheese should no longer be draining much moisture.
If you are confident in using a pH meter or pH strips, the final acid from fresh running whey should be about pH5.3-5.4. It will continue to work until the cheese body cools.
You should have a saturated brine prepared and ready 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 2.25 Lbs of Salt, 1tbs. Calcium Chloride (30% solution), and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
The cheese now needs to be set in the brine for about 1hr. The cheese will float above the brine surface so sprinkle another teaspoon or two of salt on the top surface of the cheese.
Flip the cheese and re-salt the surface about half way through the brine period.
At the end of the brine bath, wipe the surface and allow the cheese surface to dry in a cool area (65-70F), with free air movement until surface moisture is no longer visible.
Do not allow the surface to darken or begin cracking. The cheese should feel quite moist when ready but not have free surface moisture.
The cheese is now ready for the initial warmer aging space of 65-70F, where the first of the surface mold will develop. First, the ambient yeast develops to a slight slippery/greasy feel after 2-3 days, followed by a dusting of the white Geotrichum. This should take 3-5 days from leaving the brine. It is then ready for the more complex aromatic and colorful rind ranging from yellow to light red/orange. This leads off with the working of the b.linens.
Washed Rind | Prepare a wash for this phase, a day or so before you finish in the warm room. To make the wash: A cup of water, plus one tablespoon of non iodized salt. Stir well and add another pinch of both Geo and B.linens (just for insurance since you already added it to the milk) as noted above. Store this in a sealed jar in the fridge until use.
This cool phase begins with a cool water wipe to remove some of the greasy surface. Then move the cheese to a covered plastic box with an aging board cut to size on the bottom.
Note: Never wash your boards with detergent; just hot water scrub and dry in the sun.
They tend to harbor the complex of washed rind bios over time.
Begin using the wash on just the top surface and sides. You only need a small amount on a sanitized cloth for this. I usually pour a few tablespoons of the prepared wash on the cloth so that I do not have to mix fresh each time. Allow this surface to dry slightly and then place it washed side up in the box. Allow this to rest in the aging space for a day or so and then turn it over and do the other surface.
Repeat this every 3-5 days as you see a white film of mold developing. The surface will become damp or tacky but do not allow it to get swampy or wet. Within 10 days you should notice a slight pinkish/orange surface developing. If done properly no blue, dark, or fuzzy mold should grow. That is the beauty of the washed rinds. It took the monks to figure this out.
How long to Wash | This depends on the character you want. I normally wipe with a light brine at about 4-6 weeks of surface development. Too much surface aroma competes with the sweet flavor of the cheese . Once I wipe the surface, I move the cheese to a cooler space for extended maturation of another 2-3 weeks. It can go much longer, depending on character desired. I then prefer to check on it every 5-7 days and wipe any bloom I see off with a clean dry cloth or brine-damp cloth if needed.
The cheese can be ready in 4-6 weeks or you can let it go up tom several months depending on the character you like. Young flavors are bright with a firmer texture. Aged can go as far as a rich smoky or even farms texture with a texture that oozes when cut.
What is Fiore Rosso Cheese
How did I name this cheese? The “Red Flower” sounds like it's from Italy, but the influence here is Spain (“Flor Roja” just doesn’t sound as cool). Spain is where the Cardoon flower also grows and is used for specialty Sheep milk cheese. The Cardoon flower is actually purple but I like the sound of Rosso.
The name is one I made up because I love the way it sounds in Italian. You see I have no bounds to a specific cheese, I love them all and I am at a point where I am only bound to the concepts in making cheese and the flavors and textures they produce.
I enjoy mixing and matching these concepts to make my own unique hybrids.
Aside from the name it's a beautiful cheese and deserves a beautiful name. Hence, Fiore Rosso.
The History of the Cardoon Rennet
This is a new and Unique Hybrid I developed from researching and using our thistle rennet derived from the flower of the Cardoon (Cynara.cardunculus). It is a true vegetarian rennet, derived from the stamens of the flower.
The rennet is very unique in how it works. Although it's similar to traditional calf rennet enzyme because it helps the proteins bind together forming a curd, it works much slower and takes longer to set a curd than other types of rennet.
This guideline will create a soft to semisoft cheese, depending on the final moisture. The smooth texture is a result of the special rennet enzymes and the way they work (slow and long), effectively breaking down the proteins more completely.
The reason this rennet is not more well known is because they have a history of creating bitter flavors when used with cows milk. Traditionally it was only used for Ewes milk. But, through my research I have developed ways to change the ripening profiles and overcome the bitter taste when using thistle rennet.
My cheese, Fiore Rosso, is small with a beautiful washed rind that develops while it's aged.
Fiore Rosso has been loosely based on a mix of characteristics of Taleggio and Robiola, cheeses from northern Italy.
When using thistle rennet the cheese softens more and quicker than our other rennets. This cheese is typically ready for the table in about 4-6 weeks but will become much softer with longer aging. Thistle rennet also seems to create a slightly different and unique flavor that I really enjoy.