I have had a lot of requests recently to post one of my recipes for blue cheese, so here we go.
This is another cheese that is not for beginners, but those who have mastered the basics of cheese making should give it a go. The steps are easy to follow and the cheese making itself is no more difficult than the cheeses in the hard cheeses section. The challenge comes in the aging stage. The care of the cheeses during the months it takes to come to maturity needs to be considered before you begin. Do you have a suitable place with the correct temperature and humidity to age your cheeses? Can you give it your attention, even if only for a few minutes at least once a week during the aging time? This is not a cheese that you can put in an old fridge and forget about. Turning and scrapping the cheeses needs to become a part of your weekly routine. It is not hard and it does not take long, but it cannot be forgotten.
1. In a large pot mix your milk and Calcium Chloride solution.
2. Using indirect heat, heat your milk to 32 degrees C.
3. Add your starter culture and Penicillium Roqueforti (blue mould); mix well and allow to rest for 75 minutes at 32 degrees C.
4. Add your Rennet solution to the milk stirring for one minute in a gentle up and down motion, being sure that the rennet is evenly distributed throughout the milk. Allow to rest undisturbed for one hour, maintaining the temperature at 32 Degrees C.
5. Check for a ‘clean break’. If the curd is not firm enough leave it another 5 minutes and check again.
6. Cut the curd into 1.5 cm cubes and then let rest for 5 minutes.
7. Gently stir the curds every 5 minutes for one hour while maintaining the temperature at 32 degrees C.
8. Pour of the whey down to the level of the curds. Line your colander with your cloth and ladle the curds into a colander and allow the whey to drain for 5 minutes.
9. Return the curds to your pot and carefully mix by hand to brake up any curds that have clumped together. Mix in your salt. Let rest for 5 minutes.
10. Using two sterile cheese boards, cheese mats and a cheese mould, place the first mat on the cheese board and then place the mould on the mat. Ladle the curds into the cheese mould and then place the second mat on top and then the second cheese board. (This creates what we call a cheese mould sandwich)
11. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Then flip the cheese mound sandwich by carefully picking up the whole assembly and with one hand on the bottom and one hand on the top, and in one fluid motion, flip it over. Do this every 15 minutes for 2 hours and then again every hour for an additional 2 hours.
12. Let rest overnight in your warm kitchen (20 to 25 degrees C)
13. Remove your cheese from the mound and sprinkle salt on the surface. Let rest on a cheese board at 15 degrees and 85% humidity for 3 days, turning daily.
14. Using your sterile ice pick, or knitting needle, poke holes from top to bottom of the cheese to allow air to access the interior of the cheese. Make about 40 holes.
15. Age your cheese on a cheese board at 10 to 12 degrees C at 95% humidity, turning the cheese several times a week. You can use a temperature and humidity controlled ‘cheese cave’, or if you do not have a ‘cheese cave’, use a converted fridge or an esky. To keep the humidity up if using a fridge it is best to use a ripening box, which is a plastic box with a removable mat in the bottom to keep the cheese off the bottom of the box. This allows any further excess whey to drain away form your cheese. If moisture collects on the lid of your ripening box, just wipe it off to stop it dripping on your cheese.
16. Blue mould should start to appear in about 10 days. After 30 days the cheese will form a blue to blue green mould on the surface and it will also develop a reddish brown smear (slime). Scrape off the mould and smear at 30 days and then again once every 20 days.
17. Age cheese for 3 months, continuing to scrape every 20 days. Scrape the cheeses a final time and then wrap it in foil and age again at 3 to 4 degrees (in your regular refrigerator) for an additional 2 months.
This is about a kilo of cheese. The longer you age it, the stronger it will become. For me the stronger the better, but some people like a milder cheese, so keep an eye on it and eat it when it is ready for you.
Whenever you are handing cheese, hygiene is of the utmost importance. Be sure to wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap first, and then rinse them well. Then use a hand sanitiser before putting your hands in the cheese. I use an alcohol free hand sanitiser called Hands First
.It is Australian made, which to me is another positive.
I hope this recipe is of help to those of you who want to get into some more advanced cheese making.