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Alpine Cheese
A cheese in the style of Beaufort


The three primary cheeses of this area of France have much in common:
Firm, Elastic, Large and Long Aging.

The three cheeses (Abondance, Beaufort, and Comte) have all evolved due to the need to make a few large cheeses from a large collective community herd high in the mountains (Alpage) during the summer months. Due to high temperature scalding the elastic curds are made dry for a long aging and to accommodate traveling and the rough journey down into the valley markets.
They are all quite similar but do have defining differences in size, process temperatures, and even the cultures used.

A cheese in the style of Beaufort

For this recipe I will be focusing on the Beaufort style produced in the Tarentaise mountains surrounding Mt. Blanc and the heart of the French Ski Country. This is one of my favorite cheeses and I have spent a bit of time with the cheese makers at the high mountain chalets during the morning and afternoon milkings, the cheese making sessions, and in the salting and aging caves. This recipe will be for 12 gallons of milk making 2 cheeses about 5.5-6 lb. each (much smaller than the 90-110 lb. Beaufort cheeses). This recipe can easily be cut in half for a single cheese. I will also use a simpler common mold instead of the traditional adjustable wooden circle that is common in the mountains (Please see our Gruyere recipe for more on this).

 

A soft curd is set and cut vertical to 1" pieces. It is allowed to rest for the whey to rise before cutting to very small 1/4" pieces, then stirred for several minutes for more whey to be released. To heat the curds I use a jacketed kettle, pumping water from another pot keeping the temp about 20 F. higher than my target temp.
The curds are slowly heated over 40 minutes to 128-130F. The final curd size is rice to barley size. When the final curd moisture is reached the whey is removed (and saved for Serac, see below) down to curd level.
The forms are prepared with their cloth and flooded with the warm whey before the curds are transferred with the remaining whey. The forms are now pressed under the whey (prepressing) to maximize curd consolidation and eliminate the small mechanical holes. After 30 minutes the forms are transferred to the draining table.
The cheese is removed from the molds, turned, re-wrapped and pressure gradually increased to 100 lbs for each form (200 lbs total here). The next morning the finished cheese is well consolidated but needs to rest and cool for anther 24 hours
Following the final salting the cheese is removed to the cool aging area of 52-54F and 90-95% RH.
In the mountains they are stored under the chalet for 5-7 days before being transported to modern caves in the valley for further ripening where they receive their rind development.
The finished cheese is then brined for 10-12 hours


Serac


Similar to ricotta a whey cheese called Serac is made in the mountains. It is somewhat sweeter due to the lower acid of the whey runoff from this cheese.

The Whey is filtered and heated to 185F and allowed to rest for 20 minutes. The curds are allowed to float to the surface where they are ladled into molds. (M232) The cheese is then allowed to drain, cool, and eaten as a fresh cheese.



More Recipes





How to make this cheese :

In the style of Beaufort

Milk: 12.5 gallons of whole milk heated to 90F

Cultures to add:
Mesophilic MA011 .7 gms (1/4 tsp) or C101 2 packets. This will develop initial acidity at the lower temperatures
Thermophilic TA061 .7 gms (3/8 tsp) or C201 3 packets. This will develop the acidity at the higher temps and the post cooking and early stages of pressing
Helveticus LH 100 .2 gms (1/16 tsp). This is for the proteolysis (protein breakdown) during the aging of the cheese, responsible for that fabulous texture of these mountain style Gruyere.
Ripen for 30 min. at 90F

Rennet:
5 ml (about 1 tsp.) of single strength calf rennet.
First signs of flocculation at 27 minutes and the final cut at 33 minutes. This is a very soft curd to allow for the small curd cut which needs to be 1/4 inch and smaller. This is typical of the longer aged alpine cheeses as well as the Parma style cheeses of Italy.

Cut: Initially a 3/4 - 1 inch cut, rest for 2-3 min. for whey to rise in cuts then cut to 1/4 inch. This will accommodate thorough whey release and a drier curd for aging.

Cook: Begin heating curds slowly to 128-130F over 40 minutes.

Prepress: Transfer curds to cloth lined forms (2 of our M2 molds) and allow whey to accumulate so that curds can be pressed under whey. Weight curds under whey with 25 pounds for 3 minutes for better curd consolidation.

Pressing: Remove forms from whey and turn cheese in forms with cloth. Increase weight over 2 hrs to 200 lbs divided between 2 forms. Continue press weights for 6-8 hrs keeping the temperature in the 80's to allow acidity to continue developing. Allow unweighted cheese to cool and rest for 24 hours before brining.

 

Salting: Brine the cheese in saturated brine for 10-12 hrs. This is about half as much salt as a cheddar.

Aging: The cheese should be dried off when taken from brine and moved to the aging space at 90% RH and 52-54F.

Rind development:
This is a washed rind cheese. In about 7-10 days a surface mold will develop and this needs to be wiped down with a saturated brine at 3-6 day intervals to start. For the large Beaufort the surface is sprinkled with salt, allowed to develop its own brine, and this is rubbed into the surface on the next day. The cheese is turned and the cycle repeated. A red rind will form in time and the rind treatment will become less.

The aging will take 6 -14 months depending on flavor desired.



What you may need :

Cultures
Rennet

Plastic Mold
Salt
  Hearing about your wonderful cheese making adventures always brightens up our day. Please feel free to send us stories and maybe even a photo to:
info@cheesemaking.com


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