New Site

It has been awhile since we last posted here, but we have some exciting news!  We have a new site that we are developing at, so go check it out – it is a work in progress at the moment.

The exciting news is we are expanding out of the realm of just cheese to more recipes and other  food related adventures like travel and gardening!  Most important is that my son will be working with me on this adventure!


Cheesepalooza Challenge 9 – Brie Part 2

See Part 1 for the making of this cheese!

After 6 weeks of careful ripening the Brie is ready for tasting! Our cheese did not seem to have as much mold development as others but it is certainly there. The cheese is also soft hen lightly pressed.

20130608-163753.jpgSince I am bringing it to my in laws for a BBQ tonight I thought I should check to make sure it was edible, so that I do not bring shame to te family! So it is carefully sliced in half and voila! A nice creamy looking cheese!

20130608-164127.jpgNow for the tasting. I slice off a small wedge, take a first tentative bite, and wow this is tasty! Nice creamy texture, a slight tang, and yes it tastes like Brie!

Now Brie is not my favourite, and I break normal custom and remove the bloomy rind, as I just don’t like it, but I quite enjoyed this one. I will likely make it again, as my sister-in-law and father-in-law do like Brie, and this will make a great gift!

Update: The Brie was a big hit at the BBQ, very good for the cheesemaking ego!

Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Slight bloom on outside, creamy looking interior with some eyes
Nose (aroma): Slight earthy aroma
Overall Taste: Creamy with slight tang
Sweet to Salty: Sweet
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): Mild at 6 weeks, no ammonia odour at this point
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): Creamy

Cheesepalooza Challenge 10 – Époisses

May brings us to Cheesepalooza Challenge 10 – Washed Rind Cheese (The “Stinkers”)! Now these are some of our favourite cheeses, and so many to choose from. The challenge is to make the Ale Washed Trappist Cheese or Any Washed Rind Cheese. As with the other challenges we used the recipes from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. There were lots of choices, but we settled on the Époisses – but with a twist!

I clearly remember the first time having Époisse, we had a Beaujolais nouveau party with all the guests brining a different cheese, and the one we provided was the Époisse (we still have the box). It was heavenly! One of its characteristics is being a very pungent or stinky cheese, with an orangey rind from the addition of the Brevibacterium lines (or B linens) and the washing of the cheese in marc de Bourgogne. The real Époisses comes not surprisingly from the village of Époisses in Frances Côte-d’Or. As with so many great cheeses it was originally made by monks and then passed on to the local villagers. It is also very famous cheese being loved by the likes of Napolean and Brillat-Savarin.

Now on to our take! Since I did not have any marc de Bourgogne, and wanting to try something different, we decided to use scotch as the wash. Since this was the first experiment we used some Glenfiddich for the wash.

The process for the Époisses was similiar to the other cheeses except for the addition of the B linens and the wash process. We assembled all of our ingredients and sterlized all our equipment. We used our go to milk of choice Vital Greens un homogenized whole milk.Image

We brought the milk up to 86 degrees F, when at temperature the Meso II starter and B linens cultures and left to rehydrate. Image

After 30 minutes the calcium chloride and rennet were added and left to ripen for 4 hours. I believe the long ripening time was due to the small amount of rennet added compared to other cheeses we have made. We checked the break and it was nice and clean.

This was then heated back to 86 degrees F, and then the curd was cut, yielding a very soft curd.Image

The curds were then placed in 4 inch molds lined with damp cheesecloth.Image

They were then left to drain for 24 hours – during this time they were flipped every 2 hours (except in the middle of the night) to keep a good shape. After the 24 hours we had 2 nice cheeses! These were rubbed with salt and allowed to dry for around 18 hours.ImageImage

After drying, the cheeses were placed in a ripening box (AKA rectangular ziploc container) on a mat. They now ripen for about 6 weeks at 50 degrees F and fairly high humidity of 90%. By placing damp paper towel in the ripening box and closing it we are able to get the higher humidity.Image

During the ripening there are 3 phases of washing, with flipping the cheese every 3 days (in order to keep track of this I created a new Calendar and made recurring appointments, so that I would not forget to wash and flip!). The first involved a simple brine wash for the first week. The second phase for 2 weeks saw diluted scotch alternated with the brine wash, which is were we are as of this writing and shown in the photo below.Image

The third phase for the final 3 weeks involves scotch neat, alternated with the brine wash.

Already the cheese is beginning to take on a slight orangey hue, and definitely has a developing aroma! The rind is also sticky to the touch.

We are definitely looking forward to enjoying this cheese in a few weeks and will update with the tasting notes!

Cheesepalooza Challenge 9 – Brie Part 1

March slipped away and we were not able to do Cheesepalooza Challenge 8 – Gruyere or Jarlsberg (we will make these soon!) but we are back in the game for challenge 9 Brie or Camembert. Now I have to admit, neither Brie nor Camembert are a favourite of our family, but Brie is a favourite of J’s Aunt, so Brie it is!

We used the recipe for American Style Brie from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. We used 8 l of Vital Greens un homogenized whole milk and 1/2 c of their delicious 52% heavy cream.

As with our progression through cheesepalooza there is always a new twist or technique to advance our skills. The new twist for this recipe is we get to use penicillium candidum and geotrichum candidum! Mold!

We brought the milk and cream up to 90 degrees F, this time using the good old sink water bath (I must admit we did cheat a bit with the pot on the stove for a bit, then finished in the water bath). After at temperature the MA 4001 and Thermo B Starter cultures, and the two mold powders were added and left to rehydrate.

20130429-213100.jpgThese were then stirred in and left to rest for 1.5 hours.

The calcium chloride and rennet were then added and left to rest for 30 minutes. Now this break was not clean, but close so I did cut the curd.

20130429-213531.jpgThe curds were left to rest for a bit then stirred for 15 minutes. They really seemed to break down, so amateur cheese maker panic started to set in, but at this point all you can do is push on and hope it is just uncertainty of charting new territory, if not it is a learning experience!

20130429-214032.jpgAfter the rest the whey was removed to expose the curds. And then the curds scooped out and placed in the moulds. I started with two 4 inch bottomless moulds, but had extra curd so brought out two 3 inch crottin moulds.

20130429-214655.jpgThe cheese is now flipped every hour about 5 times until there is very little whey draining. While getting the cheeses settled in the ripening box I had a small issue.

20130429-215231.jpgBut I managed to get it back in the mould.

Now time for the first flip!

20130429-215653.jpgAnd after the first flip! The draining matt pattern is sure cool!


20130429-220007.jpgAfter the 4 th flip it seemed like a good photo opportunity!

20130429-220300.jpgThen I reread the recipe, leave in mould over night! So back in the mould it went!

First thing in the morning the cheeses were removed from the moulds. Their weights and height at this time were: 450 g 4.5 cm, 430g 4.25 cm, 198 g 3.25 cm and 174 g 3.0 cm. They were then salted.



20130429-220644.jpgNow the cheeses begin the blooming phase of ripening. This is when the white mold forms on the surface. It should bloom in 3-4 days, then they are flipped so the other side can bloom for another 1 or 2 days. After this they are wrapped in special cheese paper to ripening for 5-6 weeks.

As of this writing we are only 1/2 a day in. So I will update as we progress.

So far this has been fairly straightforward, monitoring the ripening process will likely be the challenge for this one.

The ripening is going well, very easy. Here it is at about 4 weeks.



Check out Part 2 for the tasting!

Cheesepalooza Challenge 7 – Gouda

For February, the cheesepalooza challenge was either Gouda or Havarti – both great cheeses but we chose the Gouda, since one of Js favourite cheeses is Prima Donna Maturo which is made in a similar style. It is also the style of cheese of Babybel and for an interesting look at how it is made check this out Unwrapped Mini Babybel – similar process just larger scale and much smaller molds!

As with all the challenges we used the the recipe for Gouda from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. We almost doubled this recipe and used 14 l of Vital Greens un homogenized whole milk, as 14l is all we could fit in our cheese vat (aka the turkey roaster).20130301-125632.jpgWe assembled all of our ingredients and sterilized all the equipment that we would need.

All the milk was added to the vat, making for a very full vat! It took about 45 minutes for the milk to come up to temperature for adding the culture, which was Meso II mesophilic starter. We let the milk ripen for about 45 minutes – the turkey roaster is working great as it kept the temperature fairly constant at 86 d F. Following the ripening the calcium chloride was added, followed by the rennet.20130301-125710.jpg
We had a nice clean break and cut the curd into 1/2 inch pieces and let it sit for 5 minutes.20130301-125719.jpgAs with the progression each month in cheesepalooza, this month we had a new technique – washed curd. In washed curd cheese, warm/hot water is added (with some whey removed) and then some stirring and resting of the curds. This process reduces the lactic acid in the cheese, which will make it less acidic.

The following photo shows the curds exposed after the first addition of 140 d F water, which brought the temperature up to 92 d F. We then added additional water to bring it up to 98 d F, which was only a couple of extra cups.20130301-125736.jpgThese curds were then stirred gently for about 20 minutes.20130301-125745.jpgAfter the stirring they were left to rest and settle to the bottom of the pot. The curds were then scooped out and placed in a warm colander lined with damp cheese cloth, and allowed to drain.20130301-125756.jpg20130301-125810.jpgAfter draining, the curd was then torn into 1 inch pieces and placed in our 8 inch tome mold, that was lined with damp cheese cloth. While adding the curd pieces they were pressed down to keep it it nice and even. The mold was then placed in my newly made cheese press, with about 15 pounds on top. I thought I had found the greatest “rack” for pressing the cheese on at Ikea, but I need to figure out a better way of catching the whey – I am glad I placed an old bathmat underneath, which caught all the whey overflow. I think the best method would be having some sort of tray or baking dish underneath to catch the whey.20130301-125817.jpg
After about 1 hour, the cheese was popped out and flipped. and rewrapped. At this point the wheel weighed 4 lb 4 oz. 20130301-125838.jpg It was then pressed overnight for about 14.5 hours, after which it weighed 3 lb 15 oz.20130301-125916.jpgI must say that is a nice looking cheese! It was then placed in medium heavy brine (20%) for 13.5 hours.20130301-125926.jpgFollowing the brining the cheese was air dried for 2 days, at the end of which it weighed in at 3 lb 8 oz. 20130301-125946.jpgAfter the air drying it was placed in the cave for aging. After 12 days we took it out and sliced it in half prior to waxing. It is looking very nice with a nice fresh aroma.IMG_0022We then applied the cream wax, and let it dry prior to applying the hard wax. The following photo shows the cheese with the cream wax.IMG_0023About 1 week later, we had time to apply the hard wax. This was actually very straightforward. Make sure you have a container large enough to dip the cheese in the wax. We used an old baine marie we were going to get rid off. The wax comes in slabs about 1/2″ thick, we broke these up to melt over a pot of water.

20130310-211248.jpgAfter the wax was melted it was removed from heat and we could begin the dipping!

20130310-211300.jpgDaddy did the first dipping, then it was the 7 year olds turn to dip cheese in the hot wax!


We now have two 1/4 wheels for consuming young, the first at the cheesepalooza tasting, the second a couple of weeks later. The half wheel we we will age for a few more months, hopefully until Js birthday in December.

No tasting notes yet as the cheese needs to age for another month. We will test one half at that time and then try the second half in about 3 months.

As soon as we taste we will add our tasting notes.

Cheesepalooza Challenge 6 – Asiago Pepato

January was a busy month that saw us having some vacation, and myself starting a new job. This left little time for cheese making. However we did manage near the end of the month to turn out a couple of wheels of Asiago Pepato for Cheesepalooza Challenge 6

As we have been doing for cheesepalooza, we used the recipe for Asiago Pepato from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making. The recipe had us make two wheels so that we could enjoy one young at 3 weeks as Asiago Pressto, and another wheel after a few months of additional aging – I think the real test will be how long we are willing to wait!

The recipe called for 2 – 4 5/8″ Italian draining baskets. Well I had one that was close to 6″. I had some other molds, but they were 3 1/2″ or the tomme at 7″. What to do? Well, you increase the milk to 12 l from 8 l, use the 6″ mold and find another 6″ mold. The additional 6″ came from a small salad spinner which seemed great at the time but did pose some problems, which I will elaborate on later.

The recipe called for 6 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, so going to 12 l would require 9 l of whole milk and 3 l of 2% milk. However, to keep the purchase simple we picked up 10 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, all from Vital Greens and un homogenized. The should impact the final cheese significantly, except for slightly higher butter fat content.

The recipe called for 6 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, so going to 12 l would require 9 l of whole milk and 3 l of 2% milk. However, to keep the purchase simple we picked up 10 l of whole milk and 2 l of 2% milk, all from Vital Greens and un homogenized. The should impact the final cheese significantly, except for slightly higher butter fat content.20130129-234539.jpgWe had all our ingredients, making sure to multiply all amounts by 1.5, and equipment in place (above you see post it notes under the calcium chloride and rennet in case they got mixed up).

For this cheese we are using the counter top turkey roaster for the first time. I spent some time calibrating it the day before, but it will take some further calibrating. We put about 4 c of water in the bottom for the water bath to transfer the heat to the basin. Ideally the milk would have been at room temperature, however we poured it in straight from the fridge.

It took almost 2 hours to get the milk up to the 92 d F, a wee bit longer than if it was done on the stove or if the milk was at room temperature. We used Thermo B thermophilic starter, and ripened the milk before adding the calcium chloride, followed by the rennet. During this time the milk did go up 97 d F.20130129-234818.jpg
We had a nice clean break, so it was time for J to cut the curd, one f his favourite parts. For this cheese, the curds should be 1/2 inch pieces, but with a 7 year old it was somewhat free form!


The curds were then heated to 104 d F, the stirred for a while, then heated to 118 d F continuing to stir until temperature reached, then a short rest. The whey was drained off to expose some glorious curds!
Since the peppercorns (tellicherry) are placed in the middle of the cheese, we put 1/4 of the curds into each mold, and let these drain for a bit before adding the peppercorns and the rest of the curds.
In the following photo you can see the salad spinner improvised mold, with J carefully placing the peppercorns.
After a few questions from J about the required accuracy of peppercorn placement, and my assurance that randomness was OK for this, he felt OK free pouring the peppercorns!

20130129-235038.jpgThe remaining curds were placed on top, and the cheese was ready for pressing. Prior to pressing, I had to make some followers. I used a cutting board, which worked very well. I like having the right tool for the job, and a bandsaw would been able to produce perfect circles, however I showed some restraint and used a jigsaw and belt sander.


20130130-001218.jpgOver the last six months, our cheese making equipment has increased, one thing we don’t have yet is a cheese press. A cheese press would make this whole next step in the process much easier than trying to balance jugs of water and hoping the pressure was even so the wheels would not be lopsided. So hopefully I can get one made before the next cheese.
The cheese was pressed for about 1 hour then flipped, the cheese in the purchased cheese mold came out very nicely, while the wheel in the salad spinner came out nice, after flipping it needed to be massaged to get back in since the sides sloped.

After pressing for another 8 hours the wheels were ready for brining. With the larger holes or mesh of the salad spinner this wheel had a neat pattern. I was not sure if this would impact the aging process, so I trimmed all the raised bits prior to brining. This wheel weighed 1 lb 4 oz.

The other wheel in the purchased mold came out perfect! It weighed 1 lb 14 oz, so we obviously did not divvy the curds up evenly!

20130130-002515.jpgAfter brining, the wheels were air dried for about 16 hours. The salad spinner wheel weighed in at 1 lb 3 oz, and the other wheel at 1 lb 12 oz.
They were the placed in the cave for aging.
Now we have no tasting notes yet, as the Pressato will need another 3 weeks. For the Pressato, we will use salad spinner wheel, and keep the perfect wheel for further aging, I am aiming for 6 months.

As soon as we taste we will add our tasting notes!

Cheesepalooza Challenge 5 – Caerphilly

I can’t believe we are almost at the halfway mark for cheesepalooza! Even though the cheeses have been interesting and some challenging, we now bring another element – time, which impacts any desire of instant gratification (instant is relative in cheese making and so far 5 days is the longest we had to wait) and also less controllable. As well these recipes a lot more milk!

December has us making aged semi-firm cheese, with a choice of Welsh Caerphilly or Farmhouse Cheddar. We chose the Caerphilly.

As always we dutifully read the recipe and headed off to get the milk. We were going to use a recipe provided by Ian at Much To Do About Cheese that called for 16 liters of milk! That is a lot of milk, plus with some additional goat milk I purchased for some chèvre and cream for butter I had some inquisitive looks. We also used Vital Greens whole non-homogenized milk.

In assembling and sterilizing all my tools I discovered that my largest pot was only 12 quarts! What was I to do? Well, I improvised (a useful skill in cheese making I have found) so we ended up making the Caerphilly using the amounts in Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheese Making at Home but Ian’s method.

As usual the milk was heated, cultures added left to ripen for a bit, followed by some calcium chloride and the rennet, then allowed to set. Since at this point I had not picked up an electric turkey roaster (I have one now though) to use as my cheese vat, I thought I would use the sink since it held more water than the other pan I used previously, and hopefully keep the temperature more consistent.

We had a nice clean break and then cut the curds. These were brought up to 95 degrees F, and stirred gently for about 30 minutes, and then left to rest.

The curds were drained for for a short while in a colander that was suppose to be lined with cheesecloth but someone forgot…..

This did leave an interesting pattern on the curd when it was turned out to be sliced into slabs for cheddaring.

The slabs were relatively firm but very creamy on the inside.

These were stacked, flipped, stacked some more, flipped some more, over the course of an hour. This resulted in more whey being released.

I cut the curds instead of tearing them by hand, I think next time I may do it by hand and see how that impacts the texture. They were then placed in an 8″ tomme mold lined with cheesecloth.

It was then pressed for about 30 minutes with about 10 pounds of weight. As we have done so far, this involved filling containers with water. However, I will be making a press sometime, I have seem some drawings and photos, and it does seem fairly straightforward, plus it will bring together woodworking and cheese making into one project!

After the first press the cheese was removed and flipped. I need to get better at wrapping the cheese with the cheesecloth though….

There were a few voids, which at the time I hoped would fill in with the pressing. The cheese also seemed rather thin at around 3 cm.

It was pressed overnight then unwrapped and brined for a bit longer than overnight, flipping halfway.

It was then air dried for about 3 days, flipping it twice a day.

After the drying there were some white marks, which I believe is salt as it was not mold, which could have formed.

So in cooking it is always important to have everything ready and in its pace – mise-en-place – well my timing was off, and I did not have my cheese cave set up (not even purchased!), plus I was off on a short trip to Vancouver. So the cheese was stored in a cake safe in the refrigerator, which is a bit colder than the 10-12 C it should be aged at.

So on my return I picked up a nice 37 bottle wine fridge to use as the cave. It seemed a good deal, it had a digital temperature gauge plus a cool blue light that J just loved, as it is his favourite colour.

We had no problems with humidity using a container of water at the bottom, but some temperature challenges. We had a good 7-8 degree C temperature difference top to bottom, with the top being coldest. Plus the temperature gauge was also significantly off the actual temperature, and I was having trouble getting the temperature down to the correct range. I noticed that with the humidity some water droplets formed on the cooling element, and these only formed on the top 25% of the element. So I was certain something was not right with the element, and with the top part forming ice, this would also explain the temperature gradient top to bottom. So it was back to the cake safe in the refrigerator for the aging.

With Christmas the wine fridge was not able to be returned until after all the festivities, and has been replaced be a smaller one that works!

After two weeks we should save seen mold growing, but none appeared, which I suspect ay be due to the colder temperature the cheese was being aged at.

With the end of the month approaching and the need to get some notes and a photo off to Valerie we cut the cheese open thinking it had been three weeks, while writing this it dawned on me it has only been two! Regardless, I was quite pleased with what we had, considering all the missteps along the way. There is a definite rind starting to form and the pate is creamy and crumbly. The voids I was concerned about during the pressing did not seem to cause an issue.

The cheese is very mild but quite delicious. I can’t wait to try it in a few weeks and to make it again.

Caerphilly Tasting Notes

Appearance: Exterior rind a slight straw tinge with the interior an off white colour

Nose: No strong aroma, but nice milky nose

Overall taste: Mild taste, with a bit of a pleasant tang

Sweet to salty: slightly salty

Mild to robust: mild

Mouth feel: Good mouth feel, slightly creamy with a bit of grainy ness

There are a few lessons from this challenge. First, make sure you have everything you need, this should go without saying. Second, I think a smaller diameter mold may produce better results with a thicker cheese. Third, in addition to making sure you have everything, make sure it works! Fourth, write things down, I have been relying on memory and I need to keep better track of the process for each cheese so I know how long the cheese has been aging! – among other things like ingredients, weight, brine, etc….

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad