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Pepato Toscano
A Tuscan style cheese
cheese with a kick...
...two variations on pepper cheese

The basis of this cheese is a Vacha Toscano
... a cows milk cheese I learned to make in the south of Tuscany

The idea here is not to create a fiery cheese but to blend the spicy flavor of the peppers with the mellow character of the curd
... a light touch is best here So prepare these before the milk is ready...
...4 Home smoked jalapenos ... smoked slowly enough to caramelize the sugars...
...Spicy.. Smokey.. & Sweet
Here they have been chopped seeds removed and rehydrated
4Tbs Peppercorns have been roughly broken ... so that you get the bright pepper flavor blended with the cheeseMilk is being heated to 98F and cultures have been added to ripen for 60-90 min.Following ripening and after the rennet has been added, the milk remains still until ...
... we have a firm curd set (~20 min.) as shown by the cut.The next step is to cut the curd into 3/4" squares and then let rest 3-5 min.Following this, the curd is cut to much smaller pieces.

The scald will take the temp to 118F but at ~108F there will be a very distinct tendency to mat.As we continue to stir the curds more acid will develop ...... and the curds will continue to lose whey.
Whey is now removed down to the curd level.The molds and cloths have been sanitized and warmed.Now we begin packing in the curd and alternating with layers of peppers.
It is best to keep any additions away from the top, sides, bottom for a tight smooth rindFor pressing we begin with about 8Lbs of water (1-Gal)......for about 1 Hr....
At which point
the curd mass is beginning to set nicely
and weight can be increased to 25Lbs
Here I am pumping hot water under my table to keep a temp of 90-95F.The final cheese is shown here with a nice tight clean surface ...
... and ready for it's brine bathAfter about a week or so the curd mellows and a thin but strong rind forms ...preparing for aging Although some specks show at the surface, the added pepper is held within nicely
The extra care and effort needed to prepare a proper tight, clean surface, with few openings for mold to grow will be rewarded in easier maintenance in the cave.
Any mold that does develop can easily be brushed away

How to make this cheese :

10 Gal Raw Jersey Milk TA% .18
Starter Temp 98F Ripen 60-90 min. until TA% .20
Culture NECS
C101 DS 1.5 pack
C201 DS 3 pack
Calf Rennet 8ml to set in 20 min.
Cut to 1/4-1/2" resting for 5 min. then slowly stir for 10 min.
Begin to scald to 118F over 30 min.
Stir another 20 min. and then pitch until TA% .16-.18

by controlling moisture in the final curd you can control the texture ...
...Softer for early ripening w/ more moisture by shorter stirring time and pitching for final TA (can be cut as early as 2-3 weeks)
...harder for longer aging by increasing the stir time (will need aging of 9 months to a year or more).

Transfer to 2 molds (M19)
Add pepper in 3-5 layers during molding, keeping it away from top, bottom and sides

Final wt 2 x 5.8 lbs

Flip @ 5' then every 30'
Keep forms @ 90 -100F during pressing with 8 lbs for first hour and increasing to 25 lbs until whey TA% rises to .34 -.36 (4-6 hrs)

hold overnight (no wt)
AM Whey TA% .64-.68 curd pH5.2

1 wk. 90-95% RH 52-58F to develop rind
then 85% RH
wipe w/ light brine @ week to keep mold down. The final aging time will depend on the amount of moisture in the cheese. 2-3 weeks for a moist cheese and 9 months to a year or more for drier more complex cheese.


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