As Cheesepalooza (our year long cheese making adventure) was starting to wrap up we were coming closer and closer to the blue cheese recipes. Now I love blue cheese, especially with a drizzle of honey on a slice of baguette; it's one of my all time favorite flavor combinations. However, the thought of babysitting a cheese that was supposed to get covered in mold seemed like a daunting task. How would we know if it was the right mold? Would the flavor be right or would we be running to the nearest garbage can after our first taste?
Worry, worry, worry.
But when the time came to actually make the cheese I was suddenly excited. We've had some success aging cheese recently (I'll be posting about that another time) and it gave me the confidence boost I needed to tackle this recipe.
This was the first cheese that we've made that called for a combination of whole milk, cream, and buttermilk. The mixture was all thick and creamy and tangy.. delicious and promising. Also unlike the other cheeses that we've made the steps before pressing the cheese were fairly straight forward. Just heating, resting, cutting, and then stirring the curds. No fancy steps with the whey or having to use water baths to bring it up to different temperatures at different times.
Once we cut the curds we found that they were a bit softer than we would have liked. We started to worry that maybe the curd had shattered (I actually have no idea what shattered curd looks like, but I know it's something you want to avoid) because they were breaking into such small pieces. Luckily, when we looked at Valerie's blog post about her buttermilk blue she had the same experience, and her cheese turned out fine.
Once we stirred the curds they seemed to firm up a bit and didn't look in danger of dissolving into the whey. So glad that all the organic, local, probably-milked-from-unicorns dairy didn't go to waste.
When we opened the cheese cloths this beautiful, creamy collection of curds was waiting for us. They had started to knit together nicely already and the buttermilk gave them a really interesting tang. In fact, I would be happy to add a little salt, maybe a splash of cream and use them as a tangy ricotta. So good!
But we resisted eating the curds and instead prepped the mold and the moulds. I know Valerie's blue cheese mold came in powder form, so I was surprised when we opened our bottle and it was a liquid! Let's just say that I wasn't fighting any temptation to lick that measuring spoon (mmm mold liquid).
The cheese was layered into a 4 inch mould and each layer was sprinkled with a bit of the mold liquid. This is what the cheese looked like before adding the last layer of curd on top. Here's hoping that it grows into beautiful blue veins over these next few weeks.
These cheese moulds are a bit different than the ones we had been using before: they don't have a bottom or a lid for pressing. The cheese relies on gravity and it's own weight to slowly expel extra whey rather than having it pressed out before aging. After being salted and sitting in the mould overnight the cheese was looking a little bit more solid and ready to move into a ripening box.
So we lifted up the moulds, and carefully.. ever so carefully.. transferred the cheese. The ripening boxes are two glass containers with tupperware lids that have vents in them to allow us to control the humidity.
Even though we're still in the very early stages of aging I'm feeling pretty confident about the cheese.. bring on the mold growth!
(full disclosure: I am still a bit grossed out by mold growth, but am reminding myself that I'm approximately 1039482028503409200 times bigger than the mold spores and can kill them off with a bit of salt and vinegar if I feel like they are getting out of hand. Reminding myself that there's nothing to actually be afraid of.)
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!