Taleggio Cheese Making Recipe Instructions
A Recipe for Making Taleggio at Home
This recipe will be for a single cheese using pasteurized whole milk and our Tallegio mold. The recipe can be modified by changing milk and additions proportionately for larger or smaller cheese.
If using raw milk, reduce the cultured yogurt addition by about 30-40%.
Full cream cow milk is heated to a temperature of 86-96ºF (30-36ºC). A lactic starter culture is added to cause the milk to acidify, followed by calf rennet which causes the milk to coagulate and produce the curds. These curds are then broken and placed into square molds, which are then put into special warm rooms with high humidity, for 18 hours. This operation is very important, since it is in this phase that a fermentation takes place, and it is this which produces the springy texture of Taleggio. The final key to success for this is the proper aging and washing of the rind as detailed below.
Heat & Acidify Milk
Begin by heating the milk to 93ºF. You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. Or, in a pot on the stove, heat the milk slowly and stir well while heating.
Add 1/2 tsp of calcium chloride to the milk if using pasteurized milk or if you're having a problem with a firm curd set.
Note: As shown in the photo above, I use a water jacket to heat the milk. Because the water bath and milk volume are similar, I heat the water bath the same number of degrees above my target temp as the current milk temp is below that temp. I can even walk away and come back in 15 minutes when the milk is done heating.
Once the milk is at 93ºF, add 3.2 oz. of yogurt culture. The yogurt needs to be well stirred to eliminate large lumps so that it can mix into the milk evenly. If using raw milk, reduce the cultured yogurt addition by about 30-40%.
Also, add 1/16 tsp of B. linens culture, this will become active during the aging.
Allow the milk to ripen at 93ºF for 30 minutes.
Coagulate with Rennet
Add about 2 ml (just under1/2 teaspoon) of single strength liquid rennet.
Let the milk sit quietly for 30 minutes while the rennet coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of the milk should keep it warm during this period, so the milk shouldn't cool down.
While you are waiting, sanitize and prepare the cheese molds, draining mats, and draining area for the curds.
Cut Curd & Release Whey
Once a good curd is formed, cut the curd into large 1.5” squares with a knife. Let the cut curd rest for 5 minutes, the whey will begin to rise.
Next, break the curds down to 1/2-3/4” pieces over 10-15 minutes. Do this with your ladle or a loose whisk with widely spaced thin wires.
Keep the original temperature as close as possible and stir the curds for 15-25 minutes. This needs to be done gently to avoid breaking the curds further.
The goal is to keep the curds large enough to retain some moisture, but remove enough whey for a proper aging.
Drain Whey & Form Curds
The cheese mold should be placed on a draining mat with another draining mat beneath that, and preferably a small solid board beneath it all to make flipping the cheese easier.
When the curds are ready, they can be allowed to settle under the whey. Once settled, remove 1/3 of the whey from the pot.
The curds can now be transferred directly into the cheese mold using a spoon or ladle.
Over the many trials I have done for making Taleggio, I have used a variety of molds that have worked well. The molds listed below will work, but not as well as a Tallegio mold, because they have fewer drainage holes and can hinder the full drainage of this cheese.
- M7 Camembert
- M3 Small Hard Cheese Mold
- M234 Pont-Levesque Cheese Mold
Note: I like making a large batch to include a couple of smaller cheeses (always great to take a small wheel to gatherings). A four gallon batch is great for this. The smaller basket molds I'm using do have bottoms but they are very open and do not hinder drainage at all. These are small enough that they can easily be flipped by hand after about 20 -30 minutes.
Ripen in Cheese Molds
No pressing is required for this cheese. Instead, the curd should be flipped, initially at 30 minutes and then several times over the next several hours. This will allow the curd to consolidate and pack tighter under their own weight as they continue to acidify and drain.
The curds are still soft in the beginning so be gental when flipping them.
Keep the cheese warm for the initial ripening, 75-80ºF for the first 4-5 hours (I use pans of warm water surrounding the cheese and place an insulated pad on top).
After the inital ripening, let the molded cheese sit at room temperature overnight.
This entire ripening step should take 16-18 hours from start to finish.
You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese, find all of the details you need on brining here.
A simple brine formula is:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2.25 lbs of salt
- 1 Tbs calcium chloride
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.
Remove the cheese from the molds and palce them in a brine for about 1.5-1.75 hours per pound. The cheese will float above the brine surface, so sprinkle another teaspoon or two of salt on the top surface of the cheese. Flip and re-salt the surface about half way through the brine period.
At the end of the brine bath, allow the cheese surface to dry for a day or so before aging.
The final salted cheese needs to be dried down to a matte surface that is still damp or tacky to the touch. It should not be dry enough to begin darkening.
Note: If you prefer, the cheese can be dry salted instead of soaking in a brine. Do this by weighing out about 2% of salt by cheese weight and applying over 3-4 days, allowing each salting to be absorbed before adding the next. This is actually the more traditional method.
Proper ripening is the key to making a great Taleggio. Traditionally Taleggio is aged in special caves in the region of Valsassina.
During aging, we try to try to emulate this cool, damp, and airy condition found in those caves.
Your aging space should be kept at 46-52°F with 80-85% humidity. This is cooler than many other cheeses, and allows the ripening to unfold over a longer time. This provides a more evenly ripened interior of the cheese. The cheese will ripen from the edges to center due to the molds that develop through the washing over the next several weeks.
Using a plastic box with a cover helps produce the elevated humidity needed. I like to add a wood board under the cheese, this acts as a moisture reservoir.
Opening the container and turning the cheese once a day will allow sufficient air exchange. I also place a cloth damp with brine over the cheese to keep the surface moist.
The following schedule may need to be shortened or extended by a day or so, this will depend on the progress of the cheese. Taking good notes will help with aging for future batches.
About 4 days after the initial salting: The cheese will begin to mellow as the salt works its way to the center. It may also have given off more moisture and the mats and boards should be changed if wet. Sometimes a cloth may be needed under the cheese during this time to wick this moisture away. The cheese may seem a bit greasy at this point, this is the initial yeast doing their work to prepare for the growth of the B.linens and other molds that may appear.
Day 5: Prepare a light brine with 1 tbs. of salt in a cup of chlorine free water. Stir the salt in well and then add 1/16 tsp of the B.linens (Yes .. again!). Set this in your aging space (at the same temp as the aging Taleggio) to be used on day 6.
Day 6: The cheese should now show a heavier growth of slime (yeast, etc.) and also have become very slippery/greasy. It is time to remove this layer. Using the light brine you prepared on day 5, soak a cloth and use it to wipe the greasy surface off. Dry the cheese on a board for just long enough for the wash to be absorbed by the surface, and then place it back in the aging space. Discard the wash.
Day 8-9: Prepare a new wash as before but without the b.linens culture. Repeat the above if the surface is still greasy. Otherwise, just use the cloth and wipe the top and sides with the wash but do not dry down, return to the aging box wet side up. In 6-8 hrs flip the cheese and repeat and return to aging space when done.
Now you are well on the way to developing the washed rind. It will be a collection of natural yeast and mold that settled on the surface. This surface, if developed soon and well, will develop and produce enzymes that cause the proteins to change gradually from the edge to the center. It will also compete against blues and other molds initially. This process will be doing the magic you want on the protein transformation and the cheese will become much sweeter as it ages.
You can now repeat the last step every 3-5 days, as you see other molds trying to grow on the surface. The objective is to maintain a damp, but not wet, surface while the desired molds do their work. You will notice that the surface becomes more and more rosy/orange as the days pass. Maintaining the surface is critical and the cooler aging temp will be your friend for this. You will also find that the cheese becomes much softer and springy as it ages here.
The cheese can now be aged for 4-6 weeks, when it will be ready for your table. You will need to be the judge on this since its your cheese and you know what you want.