A Few Important Technical Notes
Semi-Lactic cheese using cow milk
A lactic cheese is one made with very little rennet enzyme. The coagulation is mostly caused by the production of lactic acid from lactose in the milk. As the acidity increases, the proteins begin to bind together in preparation for separation of the curds and whey. Semi-Lactic refers to the fact that it is a process that falls in between a full lactic coagulation (using little to no rennet) and the firmer coagulation (using much more rennet) as used in making a hard cheese.
Normally, this process is used for goat, and sometimes ewes, milk but rarely for cows milk. The reason for this being that the cows milk has a much larger fat unit and commonly rises to the surface during coagulation, whereas goat milk does not tend to separate as much. The result in using cows milk for this would be a large mass of butterfat coagulating on the surface, whereas goat milk tends to be more evenly distributed through the developing curd. The success of this cheese requires a very different process to keep the butterfat in the cow milk from separating during coagulation, which we will detail below in the guidelines.
Washed curds, a slower bacteria activity
We do not want an excessive amount of acid to develop, so we need to slow down the bacteria.
The easiest way to keep from getting fat is controlling diet. So that is what we will do by washing the curds here. This essentially means removing some of the whey, which contains the milk sugars that the bacteria would like to feast on. We take a specified amount of whey/lactose/food away, and add back same temperature water, essentially putting the bacteria on a diet.
Washed rind, building the rind
Many of you know that a fresh cheese, left on its own, is a perfect place for all kinds of yeast, bacteria, and molds to grow, ultimately leading to one scary science project. To avoid this we need to build a layer of protection around the cheese.
We could simply wax it, or vakpak it, but not a great idea for such a high moisture cheese that is still developing. The best way to do this is to develop a natural rind. For a firmer long aged cheese this can be done by simply brushing the surface clean on a regular schedule, but the higher moisture cheese like this would not stand up for that.
What we need to do for this cheese is develop a natural living rind that will out-compete other molds for the surface. This could be a bloomy rind as you see on Camembert or as in this case we prepare a surface that appeals to certain salt loving bacteria groups that form the typical somewhat aromatic and yellow to red of the washed rind cheese. This can be done by washing with a light salt wash preparing for these bacteria to grow. In some cases they are natural local bacteria or they can be added in the milk or wash. We will detail this below.