Happy Cheese Makers Since 1978

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  • Intermediate
  • 2 Pounds
  • 3+ Months
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    • 2 Gallons of Milk (Not Ultra Pasteurized)
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp Annatto Cheese Coloring
    • 1/4 tsp MM100 Culture
    • 1/16 tsp FLAV54 Culture
    • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Single Strength Liquid Rennet
    • Salt
    • Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)


    • Good Thermometer
    • Knife to Cut Curds
    • Spoon or Ladle to Stir Curds
    • Butter Muslin
    • M3 Small Hard Cheese Mold
    • Draining Mats
    • Cheese Press or 8, 15 & 20 llb Weights

    A Recipe for Making a Gouda with a Sweeter Flavor

    The recipe details are for a 2 gallon batch but I really enjoy making a 4 gallon batch to be aged. You can make a larger cheese by increasing the ingredients in proportion to the amount of milk you'll be using.

    1 Acidify & Heat Milk

    Begin by heating the milk to 88F. You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats

    While the milk is heating add the Annatto (1-2ml) for color.

    Once the milk is at 88F the culture can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.

    The additional Flav54 culture added here is unique on how it breaks down the milk sugar leaving some residual sweetness behind. This culture accelerates acid production as well as protein breakdown while preserving a strong and sweet flavor profile. Its profile is associated with creamy aroma, nutty flavour, buttery flavour, fruity estery flavour, dairy sweet flavour and sweet taste. Also there is a tendency to eliminate any bitter flavors if aged for at least 3 months. It should be noted also that this is an adjunct culture and needs an additional acidifying culture to work in tandem with it.

    The milk now needs to be kept at this target temperature until it is time to increase for cooking the curds. Hold the milk with culture quiet for the next 45 minutes to allow the culture to begin doing its work. It will be very slow initially but will soon kick into its more rapid rate of converting lactose to lactic acid.

    While you are waiting for the culture to begin doing its work, begin heating another large pot of water to about 150-160F. This will be used later to add back to the curds and thus raise their temperature. Remember they used wooden vats so no fire to raise the temperature.

    2 Coagulate with Rennet

    Now add 2-2.5 ml (about 1/2 tsp) of single strength liquid rennet. This should be diluted in 1/4 cup no-chlorinated water and slowly stirred in for about 1-2 minutes.

    The milk now needs to sit quiet for about 45 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. You may notice the milk becoming thicker at about 10-15 minutes but allow it the full 45 minutes for a firm curd set.

    The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temp drops a few degrees during this time.

    3 Cut Curd & Release Whey

    Check the curd for a good firm set. You should see a nice clean split when you insert the flat side of your curd cutting knife at an angle into the curd and lift. This split should look very clean and whey should quickly pool in the split.

    Next cut the curds vertically with a knife at about 3/8-1/2" spacings and then at right angles with the same increments. Then allow the curd to sit quiet for about 5 minutes for the curd cuts to heal. You should note the whey begin to rise.

    Then using a flat ladle cut horizontal at about 1/2" increments. The goal is to do the best you can with between 3/8-1/2" curds throughout the pot.

    Once the curd cut is as even as you can get it, allow it all to sit for 5 minutes.

    You can now begin to stir the curd slowly to begin the whey release. If the temperature has dropped from 88F, begin heating back to temperature as you stir. This should take about 15 minutes and the curd should begin to develop a firmer structure as it dries out

    4 Cook the Curds

    This step is unique to making Gouda since the curds are heated, not by using the fire but by adding hot water back to the curds. In order to do this some of the whey is first removed.

    This is a two part process:

    • First allow the curds to settle for about a few minutes then remove about 30% of the whey. This not only makes room for the hot water and more efficient heating of the curds but it is also removing about 1/3 of the food that the bacteria were consuming.

      Since there is not as much food after this, the bacteria slow down which functionally results in a sweeter cheese.
    • Next the hot water that you had already prepared will now be added back (about the same amount that you removed) slowly to increase the temperature over the next 15 minutes to end with a curd temperature of 102F.

      This part will heat the curds and cause the curds to release whey and shrink more.

    So what you have done here is to slow down the culture by removing some of its nutrient source and then begin cooking the curds to remove more whey. Effectively making the bacteria slow their acid production and leaving a sweeter cheese in the end.

    Once the curds are at 102F, begin the final stir to reduce the moisture. Longer stir will yield a drier cheese for longer aging and more complex flavors. This should be a slow and steady stirring taking between 20-30 minutes.

    The final curds should be cooked well through and should be examined to make sure that enough moisture has been removed. The final moisture is somewhat subjective since it depends on the intended aging program. The simple test of taking a medium handful of curds, compressing them in the hand and looking to see that they separate with moderate thumb pressure is standard for evaluating this but may take a few trials. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers.

    When the moisture is satisfactory the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey.

    5 Form the Curds

    The whey can now be removed down to about 1 inch above the curd mass and then gathered into a tight consolidated mass using a bit of hand pressure. Here I use a pice of cheese draining mat to collect the curds. By doing this with plenty of whey and a good bit of hand pressure this consolidates the curd mass with fewer internal openings and results in a smoother cheese.

    This single mass of curds can then be rolled into the draining cloth and transferred to the sanitized mold.

    6 Pressing

    For pressing we begin very light and slowly increase the press weight to a moderate level:

    • 15 minutes at 8lbs
    • 30 minutes at 15lbs
    • 60 minutes at 15lbs
    • 60 minutes at 20lbs
    • 2 hours at 20lbs

    The rate of whey running off is simply a matter of drops and not a stream of whey being released. This is a good rate of whey removal during pressing and will slow even more as the residual free moisture is released. The form should show tears of whey weeping from the form very slowly. When this stops you can increase the weight slightly. The cheese should be removed from the press, unwrapped, turned, rewrapped, and put back to the press at the above intervals to assure an even consolidation. At each turn you will notice the cheese has formed a smoother surface and rests lower in the mold.

    7 Salting

    You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese, find all of the details you need on brining here.

    A simple brine formula is:

    • 1 gallon of water
    • 2.25 lbs of salt
    • 1 Tbs calcium chloride
    • 1 tsp white vinegar
    • Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.

    The cheese now needs to be set in the brine for about 3-4 hours per pound of finished cheese.

    The cheese will float above the brine surface so sprinkle another teaspoon or 2 of salt on the top surface of the cheese.

    Flip the cheese and resalt the surface about half way through the brine period.

    At the end of the brine bath, wipe the surface and allow the cheese to surface dry for a day or two before waxing. The surface will darken somewhat during this time.

    8 Aging

    The cheese can be waxed for aging and details on waxing are here, However I prefer a natural rind which takes a bit more attention to keep the ambient mold brushed from the surface. This may require daily attention for the first few weeks and then becomes less as aging continues.

    The cheese can then be placed into your aging space at 52-56F and 80-85% moisture.

    Traditionally they were stored in cellars and barns with 56-62F temperatures.

    The cheese can now be aged for 3 months or longer when it will be ready for your table.

    A Sweeter Gouda

    The lowlands of the Netherlands were taken back from the North Sea and Atlantic over many centuries, gifting them with lush pastures, ripe for dairying and cheese making, specifically Gouda.

    Now, when I say Gouda, many are thinking of that commonly found cheese in red wax from the super market, right? Well, actually no; Gouda can be anything from a young cheese that is 8-10 weeks old, to one that is aged for many years. They can be made in large industrial factories, or made on small farms and stored in the cleaned barns after the cows move to summer pastures (BoerenKass).

    For this month I will be presenting something new, actually a mix of the old ways helped along by modern science.

    Many of you have heard me say that today's artisan cheese making is a matter of taking the best of the traditional old ways and mixing them with the best that modern science has to offer.

    Well this month we will explore just this, a very traditional old way of making the traditional cheese of Holland and mixing it in with a very recent introduction of culture based science.

    The History of Gouda

    For many centuries the making of most traditional cheese was a lesson in how folks made do with what they had at hand.

    For Gouda, originally produced in the south of Holland, there is a story (actually there are many stories) that goes back in time to the twelfth century or earlier, and perhaps helps to explain why different cheeses evolved with such different character in different parts of the world. I have heard variations on this from a couple of sources and it makes sense from what I have seen.

    The question is, "Why did the dutch use hot water additions to heat their curds, while others used fire under a large kettle to do this?"

    We begin by taking and comparing two cheeses:

    • Larger alpine style cheeses made in the Alps of central Europe
    • Large Gouda style cheeses made in the lowlands of the Dutch countryside

    They are both large cheeses with a residual sweetness remaining in the aged cheese and can be aged for long periods, but that is where the similarities end, both in process and final texture and flavor.

    The main difference is obvious as soon as you enter the traditional cheese room:

    • In Holland, there is a large wooden vat
    • In the mountains, there is a large metal kettle with a fire nearby

    Why metal and why wood?

    It has been pointed out to me that the mines were in the mountains and so they extracted the ores there and developed the skills to work with iron and copper, whereas in the lowlands of todays Holland, iron and copper were not a local resource but wood was and they simply worked with that. The mineral resources would have had to travel large distances, very expensive in those days.

    To expand upon this, the metal vats could take the fire and thus heat the curds in the vat to dry them out, the wood certainly could not so they heated water and added it to curds in the wooden vat to dry them out.

    Functional differences between the two processes were:

    • For the Alpine cheese higher heating temperature (easy to do over a hot fire) selected for different natural bacteria in the milk which selectively converted the lactose, leaving more residual sweetness.
    • In the dutch lowlands, the scald temperatures were kept much lower due to the limitations of the hot water in wooden vats. This selected for different bacteria in the milk but ones that could consume all of the sugars if left to it BUT the vats were only so big, so in order to add hot water to the vat, they needed to remove some whey. In removing this whey they were also removing some of the food for the bacteria and thus slowed the lactose conversion process way down

    So what we have here are two very different geographic regions where their goal is to make a cheese that can be aged for some time but by using two very different methods.

    The different styles both tend to have a supple cheese body and are commonly sweeter style cheese.

    So we ask ourselves, as with many other techniques, was it an accident that produced a favorable result or was it well though out beforehand. I tend to think the former was the way these different cheeses evolved. Again, one of my favorite expressions "same same but different". If you have ever tasted and compared a well aged Gouda style such as their BoerenKaas or a well aged Alpine style such as a Beaufort or Etivaz I sure you can appreciate this.

    Modern Gouda with a Sweet Twist

    As mentioned above, in the mountains of Switzerland and France curds were cooked at much higher temperatures and thus selected for a different type of culture from their milk that does well at the higher temperatures. The culture is called Helveticus and the name refers to the mountains of the region. This culture has very unique characteristics in the way it breaks down proteins. The result tends to be a sweeter and nutier flavor in the cheese.

    Many years ago cheese makers in other regions began isolating these cultures and adding them to their vats for cheese even though it was not traditionally found in, such as Cheddars and Goudas. The culture were found to work well at even lower temperatures. This became very successful and changed the profiles of these cheese in a very distinct and positive way.

    Fast forward a few more years with a lot of science and experimentation and we have a new culture variation of the Helveticus style culture that leaves even more residual sweetness in the cheese. This culture is now called Flav54 and we have been supplying it for the past year or so. Effectively this culture just leaves more residual sweetness behind in the finished cheese and has been a huge hit with consumers.

    This culture will produce a more sweet and savory flavor and during aging it will have a very characteristic profile due to the way in which the cheese solids are reduced to more flavorful components.

    This culture has been found to bring a whole new dimension to the Gouda style and that is what I am working with for this months guideline.

    Recent studies have shown higher acceptability for flavor and texture attributes. A better flavor perception for the cheese with added Flav54 reflected positively on the buying intention of consumers. About 80% of the consumers that have tried it say that they would certainly or probably buy the cheese containing an addition of L.helveticus compared to the traditional process.

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