The course was held at our local community house, and started at 10am. A most civilised start time for a Sunday, I thought. There were 8 people on the course, and I knew one gent called Kasper who I met during my first course. He also has made many different types of cheese as I have since the first course in February, and we both have the cheese making bug.
I chose to make Stilton, which is a English Blue vein cheese. You can read how they make it commercially at the Official Stilton Cheese Makers Assoc page. Here is a little history of the cheese. It has an uncanny link to my town of Melton.
Stilton was first made in the early 18th century in the midlands of England – specifically in and around the Melton Mowbray area. Stilton takes its name from the village of Stilton (though no Stilton was ever made there) located about 80 miles north of London on the Great North Road. It is here that the coaches travelling from London to Scotland and other northern cities made their first stop for fresh horses and overnight stays. Convenient to Melton Mowbray and the surrounding area, the village became the central market place for the cheese with thousands being sold every week. Thus the blue cheese one would buy in Stilton became known as Stilton cheese.
Well there you go. Stilton was never made in the town of Stilton!
Anyway, history lesson over. It was a fairly simple recipe, and started off the same as making most hard cheeses, bringing up the temp to 32°C, add the Calcium Chloride, add the Mesophilic culture, and then the Penicillin Roquefort (the smelly stuff) to the milk. After 30 minutes I added the rennet and let set for about 45 minutes.
After cutting the curd with a whisk into about 4-6mm squares, it was rested again and then the whey was drained off to the level of the curds.
That is when it all went to custard and down hill from there. After another 30 minutes of resting, I drained it through a cheese cloth and it was still very moist. I had to leave it in the cheese cloth and press it with a pot filled with water to get more whey out of it. I then took it out of the cheese cloth, broke it up into smaller pieces and sprinkled 2 teaspoons of salt over the top and mixed it through. I thought it was still quite moist, but because we couldn’t really follow the recipe properly because of the time limitation we attempted to press it in the hoop. It did not like it very much and oozed out of the sides of the follower. Still too much whey in the curd. I had to return it back to the bain marie and heat the curd until more whey was released. Normally you would just leave the curds to drain a few hours in the hoop and add more when it shrank by itself.
The heating process released a lot of whey and the curd became very rubbery. Hopefully I didn’t kill the cultures. The cheese itself looks a bit abnormal, lopsided and rough. It didn’t press very cleanly. We all cleaned up our gear and were finished by about 2pm. Here is the finished product at home, which looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I bought a special container that has a rack in it to mature the cheese in, because we were told not to leave mould-ripened cheese in a fridge with normal cheese unless we wanted strange moulds all over our nice cheese! The phillips head screw driver is to make holes in the cheese so that oxygen can given to the p.roquefort and give those wonderful blue-green mould lines that you find in this type of cheese. It has been sterilised, and is relatively brand new.
I rubbed salt liberaly over the cheese, and tomorrow morning I will turn the rack upside down, put a bit of water in the bottom of the container (to raise the humidity to 85%), and pierce the cheese with about 30-40 holes top to bottom and bung it into the cheese fridge. Fingers crossed it should develop mould in a few days and be ready to eat in a few months.
I also saw how to make camenbert and brie, and just need a length of 100mm stormwater pipe to make the hoops out of. The hoops are about 7.5 cm tall and you just ladle the curds into it and using two trays top and bottom, invert the cheeses every 15 minutes for 2 hours and drain off the whey. It looked fairly simple, and the cheese retains its shape when removed from the hoops. Then they get sprayed with white mould mixed with sterilized water from a trigger bottle. This forms the white rind that is typical of camenbert and brie cheeses.
It was a great day, and gave Dorothy my phone number and details, as about 8 people from the Sustainable Living Group are interested in attending the Basic Cheese course. She will call back in a few days with some weekend dates. I bought some P.Candidium and P.Roquefort from Dorothy as well. All in all the extra ingredients and the plastic containers (I bought 2, one for blue and one for white moulds) set me back $50. Money well spent I believe, and they will get used well into the future. I can just see me snacking on home made blue brie with crackers in a few months time. Now if I can just find some stormwater pipe for the hoops! Freecycle here I come.