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Gorgonzola Picante
The fabulous blue from the northern Piedmont of Italy

This cheese goes back to the more traditional 2 curd method of making known as 'del Nonno' (Grandfathers cheese) or 'Antico' (old fashioned). Today it is simply known as 'Picante' due to it's stronger flavor. It is a drier and more crumbly cheese than the modern Gorgonzola 'Dolce'.

In this session we will make a cheese based on the very old traditional Gorgonzola. The milk is set in the evening of the 1st day and ripened over night to produce a very acid firm curd. This curd will make up the interior of the cheese and provide an open texture that the blue will grow into very well. On the morning of the 2nd day another curd is made, this time with less acid and a tendency to knit into a close texture. On the afternoon of day 2 the curds are combined in a form placing the fresh curd on bottom..sides..top and the firmer curds in the center to provide the openness needed for the blue to grow well

The milk has been set and a nice clean break established before cutting.

The curd is then cut into pieces the size of a hazelnut ...

... stirred briefly to release the whey ...

... and drained in a cloth overnight.

Next AM the acid curd
from day 1 ..

..note it's flaky texture.

The curd is broken up.

Day1 & Day 2 curd
note the difference in texture.

2 combined curds .. note the softer curd around the edges.

The Molded cheese receives no weight but is flipped
several times as it cools to close up the rind.

The finished cheese ready for salt.

This cheese gets a heavy dose of salt ...4 % over 5 days with a days rest in between each application. Alternate sides are salted AM and PM. The salting doses are distributed at 50%-30%-20% ... Note how the salt melts into the cheese and forms it's own brine as it does this in the photos above left to right.
It is imperative to use a coarse salt here to control the rate of salt permeation.

Following the dry salting, the cheese will have a very rough hard surface feel and is ready for a long ripening in the cave. In about 3-8 days the dry surface texture will become somewhat moist and sticky as the salt moves to the interior. The temp should be about 52-56F and the Relative Humidity 92-97%.

At about day 10-18 the texture of the cheese will change becoming softer and the blue will begin to appear on the surface. It is now time to punch it and allow air to reach the blue. Also note the development of the red rind forming due to high moisture and a change in surface pH. This should be wiped down and RH should be controlled to prevent too sticky a rind.

After a nice slow aging in the cave for about 3-6 months the cheese is ready

How to make this cheese :
***Before you Begin, add 1/16-1/8 tsp blue mold powder to 1/2 cup of milk and allow to rehydrate several hours before starting.

Day 1 ... firm curd for center
Begin with 5 Gal whole milk and heat to 87F.
Add .25% -.5% Bulgarian yogurt (50:50 Thermo & Bulgaricus) as starter and ripen for 30 min.
This yogurt is the Y1 culture already made up and is added as a percentage of the milk volume - .5% of 5 Gal=3.2 ozs.
Add milk w/ re-hydrated blue mold that has been previously prepared (see above note).

Add 3.5 ml rennet and let set 60-90 min for a firm set
Cut 1/2-3/4" let rest for 5 min then stir for 1 hr.
remove whey to curd and then transfer to cloth bag and drain overnite .. let acid develop @ 68F .. final pH= 4.6-4.8

Day 2 ... softer curd for outside
... 5 Gal whole milk w/NO BLUE added..
Add .5-1% Bulgarian yogurt starter to ripen milk
The ripening, rennet, and cut will be the same as above but use an intermit stir for 1-2 hrs
Then remove whey to curd level pH=5.9

Fill mold w/ fresh curd on bottom top & outside and the 1 day old curd in the center
.. press the fresh curds down around the edges well
Flip every 30 min to set surfaces.. keep flipping next day (D3) w/ no salt

Begin Salting (total salt used is 4% of cheese weight)
Distributing salt as follows:
Late on Day3=50%
Day7=20 %
Next day the outside curd pH= 5.4-5.2
Punch top side @ day 15 and the bottom in another 5 days... a sterile #2 knitting needle will work well for this.

Ripen the cheese @ 52-56F and 92-97% RH

Do not allow the rind to become too sticky (reduce RH% if neeeded)

The cheese should be ripe in 3-6 months

What you will need :

Bulgarian Yogurt
Blue Mold
Calcium Chloride (if you are using store bought milk)

Plastic Mold and Follower

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