(Part one of the Blue Cheese is Here)
It's funny how I used to buy blue cheese at the store without really giving it much thought. Just browse the selection, debate between a stronger or a more mild cheese, toss it in my basket and head home to enjoy it with some wine and crackers. It's an entirely different experience when you make the blue cheese yourself. It involves close examination of the mold growth, debate about the rate of the mold growth, adjusting the temperature and humidity to promote the mold growth, and then ... you eat it.
Perfect! It's absolutely covered in mold. Mold that we grew! Let's eat it!
However, I actually was excited to eat it.. somewhere down the fuzzy blue path I stopped being afraid of the mold and it became really obvious which mold should be there, and which mold should be gently wiped off. Flat blue mold = good.
When we first started our two cheeses were fresh, beautiful disks. We stuck them in our cheese cave along with some bowls of water to add humidity and then let the mold powder that we added to the cheese do it's work.
The mold powder we used needs oxygen to grown, so once the cheese had stopped draining, and was a little blue on top, we pierced it multiple times to get those blue veins that you often see in blue cheese.
After piercing it this time we tasted the bit of cheese on the stick and noticed a very very faint bitter aftertaste. We had previously had an issue with our cheese becoming more bitter as it aged, until it was completely inedible and we really didn't want that happening again. The wise internet informed us that it was most likely caused by too much rennet, which made us realize that our bottle of rennet was fairly old and as the water evaporated from the bottle it had become more concentrated. We decided to give the cheese another week and then enjoy it before it turned bitter.
Cutting open the cheese revealed a texture almost identical to St.Andres cheese (a favorite of ours) which is firm enough to slice, but creamy and soft when you eat it.
Somehow all the poking and spearing only led to one thick vein instead of a series of them. It looked a little like a clean modern stripe.
It was delicious on its own, and even better when smushed on a cracker and drizzled with honey. Now that we have a brand new jar of rennet on the way we will be making this cheese again and letting it age even further next time.
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!