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Presents: 'The Cheesemakers'

Jorge "Mariano" Gonzalez
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese
Modesto California

a visit with Mariano
to see how he makes that
famous bandaged cheddar


After meeting at the American Cheese Society convention in San Francisco...
...we head to the Fiscalini Farm
in Modesto for a visit
John Fiscalini runs
a very tight ship here
Not all days run as
smoothly as others
Ricki and Mariano
waiting for the milk
Once it arrives
the acidity is checked...
...and starter is added
followed by the rennet
When the proper set is established, the cutting begins, first some hand work...
...and then the automated knife
delivers the proper cut
The curd is then stirred
as it is heated gently...
...until a proper curd is determined
At this point the curd is gently pulled to the sides to leave a central trench
and the whey is allowed to run off
Mariano finds this early
gentle curd work...
...assures a proper drainage
which will benefit the final texture
Once the whey is drained
the blocking of the curd begins,
This is the stage where
more whey drains off...
...and the acidity
continues to develop
Notice the attention being paid here to the blocking and stacking...
...and how the ends are
tucked into a compact form
Once the 'cheddaring' is completed, the curd will be broken into smaller bits, salted,and placed into cloth 'bandages' in hoops.
The blocks are cut again and stacked into a very compact mass...
...that will now begin to stretch out under it's own weight
This is the 'cheddaring' process
that give the cheese
its typical texture
These are then placed in a press and pressure applied until ready for the aging rooms.
In the aging room a fine white mold first appears on the surface within the first few weeks...
... and then gradually a darker blue grey mold will begin to develop.
The bandage actually provides...
...a substrate for these mold populations.
After a few months
these molds begin to dry back,
forming this fine package
This photo shows the turning system
allowing an entire row
to be turned at once,
providing for a more even aging.
Mariano's smile here indicates the joy earned from a craft well mastered.
A fine cheese maker's work is never done as he follows through...
...right to the very end.

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