The cheesepalooza challenge has moved along to the more challenging cheeses and this month we made our first stinky cheese. I have to admit that although I am a fan of strong cheeses, I wasn't sure if creating and babysitting a 'stinky cheese' for weeks on end was going to be that fun.
Luckily, I was wrong and am now super excited for this cheese to develop over the next month and a bit.
The recipe stated that the cheese would take about 2.5 hours to make which seemed very reasonable. However, if we had added up the times listed for letting the milk rest and heat and drain we would have seen right away that the cheese takes well over 4 hours before it gets into the mold to be pressed. Two and a half hours must be some sort of typo.. good thing we didn't have anything else planned.
The cheese itself is an ale washed Trappist cheese flavored with crushed cardamom seeds and dried orange peel. Trappist cheese was originally made by Trappist monks when they weren't busy baking bread, making beer, and writing manuscripts.
At the beginning of the cheese-making process we steeped the milk with the seeds and peel, then poured it through cheese cloth to strain all of the bits out. We weren't able to find dried orange peel (I swear it shouldn't be that hard to find!) so we used fresh zest to flavor the milk.
Once the milk had been heated, the cultures added, rested, cut, and rested again we were well into the afternoon. Obviously Trappist monks needed activities to fill their days.. but they probably didn't kill time while the curd was setting by checking their instagram accounts like I did.
Once the curd was ready to go, we ladled off enough whey to expose the curds...
The curds were then left to rest (being stirred must have exhausted them..) and they were *supposed* to form a slab on the bottom of the pot during that time.
But when we opened the pots to check on them, they were sort of slabs.. sort of still curds. Really hoping that the texture of the cheese will still turn out despite that step not really going correctly for us.
We drained our non-slabs of curds in strainers lined with cheese cloth..
We skipped the step of cutting them into pieces, because they already were in pieces! Instead we just tossed them with salt and loaded half of it into a 5 inch mold. Then we sprinkled crush cardamom seed over the curds, and loaded up the rest of the curds on top.
After pressing the curds (we took a wise cheese-maker's advice and used 10 pounds to press the cheese instead of 8) we transferred the cheeses to tupperware containers filled with cool beer to soak.
Our beer of choice is this Edelweiss which I haven't tried yet, but it smells delicious. Some of it was used to soak the cheese a number of times and some of it was used to make a beer-brine that we will be washing the cheese with over the next month or so.
The cheese requires a bit of maintenance during aging: daily flipping and wiping with brine the first few weeks. Ever since our Asiago, we've upped our cheese-aging game and as a result our Gruyere was a success. Based on that, I think that this cheese will come along nicely (and by 'nicely'I mean 'stinkily').
I don't think I've ever been excited about something slowly turning stinkier and stinkier but I can't wait until this cheese is ready to taste.
My mom and I are on a year long cheese making adventure along with the other Cheesepalooza participants. We are working out of Artisan Cheese Making At Home by Mary Karlin and will not be posting the recipes for the cheese online. You can join Cheesepalooza at any time!