This cheese uses both a mesophilic culture and a thermophilic culture which means it must begin at a fairly low temperature for the Meso II to work. Then the temperature is slowly raised to allow the Thermo C to activate. When this process is finished, the calcium chloride and rennet are added in the usual way.
It will take 50-60 minutes to achieve a clean break and then the curds are cut into 3/8” cubes with a curd cutting knife and allowed to rest for 5 minutes. Now you should see the clear yellowish whey beginning to separate from the curds.
The temperature is slowly raised to 100°F. with continuous stirring to expel whey and dry the curds. If you have a pH meter, continue stirring until the pH reaches 6.4. If you don’t have one, don’t worry! As Caldwell explains in Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking, it is easy to judge when the curds are ready. Simply take a small handful of curd and press it flat between your hands, letting the excess whey drain out between your fingers. If you can then turn your hand over with the cheese facing down and it sticks to your hand, it’s ready!
After letting it rest for 5 minutes, the whey is ladled off to 1” above the curds and the curds are ladled into a cheesecloth lined strainer.
This cheese is pressed at 10 lbs. and then at 20 lbs. Our Sonoma Style press works great but this cheese is easy to make without a press. In a large bucket, elevate the mold slightly to allow for draining whey and balance the weight on top of the follower. A gallon jug of water weighs 8 lbs. and you can improvise to add up to the needed weight. Don’t let lack of a real cheese press stop you from making this cheese!
After pressing and brining, this cheese only needs to be aged for 2 months, but develops a more complex flavor if aged up to 6 months. As it ages, it will develop a layer of mold which can be controlled by brushing or rubbing with olive oil. Some of the professional creameries improve the appearance by rubbing with olive oil that has been infused with cocoa, paprika or other spices to improve the color.
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