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    Ingredients:

    • 1 Gallon of Milk (Not Ultra Pasteurized)
    • 4-6 oz Heavy Cream (Ultra Pasteurized Ok)
    • 1 Packet C20G Chevre or C20 Fromage Blanc Culture
    • 2-4 Drops Single Strength Liquid Rennet
    • Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)
    • Salt
    • Truffle Oil

    Equipment:

    • Good Thermometer
    • Knife to Cut Curds
    • Spoon or Ladle
    • Butter Muslin
    • Large Colander
    • Draining Mat

    1 Heat Milk, Add Culture & Rennet

    Begin with a gallon of regular homogenized whole milk (about 3.25% fat) and add about 4-6 oz. of medium to heavy cream to make for a richer cheese. If using raw milk, most of it has a higher fat% than the store milk and can be used as is with no cream addition.

    The culture addition is easiest done with one of our prepackaged cultures, which include just a tiny bit of powdered rennet already in the mix. But we also find for this cheese a little more rennet makes it set a bit firmer, so I advise adding another 2-4 drops of rennet in addition to what is already in the pack the packs. This will also help to trap the cream and keep it from rising so quickly.

    If you have one of the larger culture packs, such as our Flora Danica or MM100, use about 1/16-1/8tsp depending on the milk. For this the rennet addition will be about 4-6 drops of single strength.

    Begin by heating the milk to 68-72F (we used to call this room temperature). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water and make sure you stir it well as it heats.

    Once the milk is at the correct temperature 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. Once stirred in, the extra rennet can be added.

    The milk, with culture and rennet, now needs to be kept at this target temperature for a long slow fermentation (18-24+ hours) to allow the culture to begin doing its work. It will be very slow steady rate of converting lactose to lactic acid because we are working at the lower end of the bacteria's activity range.

    For most firmer pressed cheeses, with more rennet enzyme activity, there would be a lot more rennet added and the final curd would be formed in a matter of minutes, instead of many hours.

    2 Let Milk Set

    Once the milk is at temperature and the culture and rennet added, it now needs to sit quiet for 18-24+ hours while the culture works and the acid development brings the proteins into a firm curd.

    It is important to keep the milk warm during this time, and since most of us are keeping our rooms a bit cooler these days, you will need to find a spot or method to keep the milk warmer. Our customers seem to find lots of ways to do this such as:

    • Inside an insulated box with a jar or two of warm water
    • In an oven with the light bulb left on
    • Covered on top of the fridge where the cooling coils give some heat up

    We will leave this part up to you, but do check the temperature for a steady temperature between 68-75 for it to work well. The warmer temps bring the curd to the desired firmness quicker. At 75F, you might expect 15-18 hours; at 68F it would be more like 24-28 hours. Cultures do not work well when the temperature is not stable or is below 68F

    As the cultures work they will convert the lactose to lactic acid and develop a firm curd. You may observe this in several phases:

    1. Remains as warm milk
    2. Begins to develop a thicker texture but does not hold a knife cut. The curd will not taste very acid yet
    3. The curd firms and a few small spots of whey begin to form on the surface
    4. The whey on the surface begins to cover the surface. You will taste a bit more acid at this point
    5. The whey finally covers the curd to about a 1/4" and the curd may crack on its own and may pull away from the side of the pot. At this point the curd will taste quite tangy

    You will need to wait until phase 5 to have a firm enough curd to ladle to the draining cloth, otherwise it will all break apart and even run through the cloth.

    If you are using raw or non homogenized milk, the butterfat will tend to rise to the top during the resting period. You can gently stir this back down in a brief up and down motion with the ladle through phase 1 but no later. Once you observe phase 2, the cream is less likely to rise anyway.

    3 Cut & Transfer Curd

    Once you are confident the curd is firm, it can be cut vertically into 1" squares.

    After cutting wait 5 minutes, then transfer the curds into a large colander lined with butter muslin.

    Note: Ladling the curds directly into the colander without cutting them first also works, but I find cutting the curd first allows them to drain better.

    4 Drain Curd

    Let the curd drain in the cloth for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, then gather 3 corners together and, with the 4th corner, wrap it around the other 3 to form a secure draining bag. This is now ready to hang for better draining.

    The cloth should be untied and the curd mixed at 30-60 minute intervals. Each time this is done the curds will be drier and more compact

    The final moisture depends on what you want as a finished cheese:

    • A very moist and spreadable cheese should be good in about 2-3 hrs of draining. This can then simply be moved to a container and chilled once the truffle oil and salt have been well blended in.
    • My favorite is a longer draining and then packed into small forms for further draining resulting in a drier cheese that can be used in salads etc. (absolutely great in scrambled eggs with herbs).
    5 Flavor & Form Cheese

    Now that you have your lactic cheese base it's time for the artisan in you to emerge.

    Flavoring the cheese is purely a matter of taste. A little salt will mellow the acid a bit, as well as help more whey to be released. The star quality though will be that exotic taste of Tartufa, or Truffle, oil (real truffle pieces if so inclined $$$).

    Use a good quality cheese salt (not too fine nor too coarse) at a rate of about 1 tsp (start with 3/4 tsp and add more to your own taste). Too much salt will overpower the truffle and too little will show more acid.

    Then use a good quality truffle oil. Make sure you smell and taste it to be sure it has not gone rancid on the store shelf or in the back of the fridge. I like the stuff so I use about 30 ml in this batch.

    Make sure you blend the cheese well in a bowl to get it all mixed together. You can now either scoop it all into a nice serving container and refrigerate, or use a nice mold to shape the cheese, letting it dry down a bit more on the surface. The latter is my favorite and I allow it to sit in my aging space at 52F 80-85% moisture for about 5 days before un-molding and placing in a plastic container for the fridge. Size that container to about double the size of the cheese.

    Whatever your plans for this, make sure you give it at least a few days for the flavors to work together. Who knows what they are doing in there but its usually a good thing!

    6 Storage

    This is a fresh, moist cheese and you probably wont see it around long enough for aging.

    10-14 days would be surprising if it lasted that long (mostly because it tastes soo amazing).

    Store this one in a covered plastic container in the fridge. High moisture and cold fridge temp should stop any further bacteria activity and discourage the molds from forming.

    Note in the picture above the slight condensation inside the container (a recycled tub flipped upside down). This is good to see although you don't want so much condensation that it begins dripping on the cheese.

    Lactic Cheese with Truffle Oil

    In this recipe we turn a simple lactic cheese into something wonderful with the addition of some truffle oil.

    For the past few months, I have been focusing on a lot of history and cheese, and bouncing around on a bit of a world tour.

    Everyone seems to love this mix of cheese history, but the process of making and aging may be a bit much for the new cheese maker, so this in this recipe we simplify things.

    Let's focus on a simpler cheese that's easy to make with a simply amazing infusion of truffle oil.

    Not only will you be learning to make a fabulous cheese, but we will also be learning a little more detail about the broader field of cheese making and how flexible it can be.


    What is Lactic Cheese?

    Most of you likely already know that cheese making involves the process of preserving milk by separating the solids from the liquid by converting milk sugars (lactose) to lactic acid AND getting the proteins to form into a mass of curds that we can cut and drain.

    Now there are two distinctly different ways to go about this:

    1. Developing Lactic Acid. The most natural, and probably the original cheese method, is to simply allow the natural bacteria to feed on the sugars, and in the process produce lactic acid. This acid condition will in turn cause the proteins to go from a relationship of repelling one another to one of attraction (sticking together). This is the beginning of our coagulation, or curd formation, for a lactic cheese process. You will note that there was no mention of using rennet for this coagulation process, although a very tiny amount of rennet can be used. A few things specific to this process are:
      • It often takes place at lower temperature but will take more time
      • The cheeses produced need to be much smaller and require little to no press due to a weaker body structure
      • Instead of cooking and pressing, lactic cheeses undergo a long draining time to allow the whey to drain
      • The final cheese will always be more tangy (acid) than a hard cheese and have a softer texture
    2. Using Rennet. The more common method for hard cheese though, has only a moderate amount of acid and uses a specific enzyme (rennet) to cause the proteins to coagulate, so that the whey removal can begin. Because this process is triggered by an enzyme, it is logically referred to as an enzymatic cheese process. Specific to this process:
      • The cheese is generally sweeter (less acid)
      • The cheese are firmer and can be made larger with a stronger body
      • The cheese is set at a higher temperature and can be cooked and pressed to remove more whey for longer aging
      • They can be made either very moist or dry for very different aging processes

    Now, having differentiated these two processes, I have defined the extreme range of the possibilities of cheese process.

    At one end you may have a lactic cheese like Chevre, ready for the table in 48 hours.

    At the other end, you may have an enzymatic cheese, like Parmigiano or Cheddar, that may require 8-14 months or more before it's on the table.

    In between these two extremes is an amazing array of cheeses, all with different qualities because of major or minor changes in the process. This is why we can literally make hundreds of different cheeses from the same milk.

    I feel that it is a very important to understand that in cheese making there is no black and white, indeed there are a thousand shades of grey, each one representing a different cheese.

    So to be clear, you could take a lactic cheese guideline for something like Chèvre or Fromage Blanc, and add no rennet at all, or maybe 2 drops of rennet per gallon; then in the next batch increase to 4 drops and then keep increasing rennet each batch. Eventually you will begin noticing a change in the curds as well as the final cheese. We can call this in between process semi-lactic, as the curd development changes. Eventually, we will reach a very different point of curd behavior and find a need to set the curd at a higher temperature, maybe cook longer and find that it no longer drains well on its own and needs cooking and stirring as well as a press and weight for consolidation. At this point it would be considered an enzymatic or rennet set process.

    This is just one part of cheese making that makes it such a dynamic process and part of why there is such an incredible range of cheese being made today.

    Therefore with the same milk, the same rennet and the same culture, you can make a Lactic, Semi-Lactic, or Rennet Set (Enzymatic) cheese by varying amounts of culture, rennet, temperature and time.


    This is My "10 O'Clock" Cheese

    Obviously because I make it at 10 o'clock, that's 10 AM. Why 10 O'clock? I choose this because this style of cheese takes about 24 hours from the time you add the culture until it's time to drain the curds.

    Now perhaps you have already noticed it, but milk made into cheese is not always as predictable as we would like to see it, and sometimes the cheese spirit says "OK, I'm ready!" earlier or later than you would like. Maybe an hour or two earlier or later. At any rate this 10:00 a.m. start time gives you a buffer so you can get the good nights sleep you need and if it goes longer it doesn't wreck your entire day.


    Making Lactic Cheese

    For this cheese, the target will be a creamier cheese made with good quality whole cows milk from the store, plus a little cream. We will also add a bit more rennet to give a bit more firmness to the curd set, and help to slow the cream from rising, if using un-homogenized milk. Even with the extra rennet, this cheese is still going to be a lactic cheese and not a rennet set cheese. The curd structure is due more to acid production and just a slight boost from the rennet enzymes.

    The result should be a rich creamy paste, balanced by the tangy lactic character and elevated to *Star Quality* by the truffle oil, just to give it that touch of mystery (the key is to not overdo or underdo the addition).

    Not just something to spread on bread or crackers but amazing with eggs or in a salad.

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