"I'm just crackers about cheese!"
- Wallace, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
We were all crackers about cheese, a group of 18 cheese lovers assembled for the Cheese Making Workshop by McIntosh and Bowman as part of the Sydney International Food Festival.
Much like making one's own bread, creating your own cheese can seem a little intimidating for the uninitiated. It all seems so complex and bewildering.
In fact, cheese making, as we found, is not as difficult as you would think. Most involve heating milk to a certain temperature, adding rennet or starter culture, and then utilising patience and time. Over the course of the day, we discovered that sourcing the best quality unhomogenised milk was key - milk with cream at the top seemed to create far better curds than the homogenised version.
Whilst we were encouraged to use our hands, we were reminded that anything that came in contact with the cheese had to be sterilised by dipping in the diluted chlorine bath.
We made two different cheeses on the day: mozzarella and camembert. Each recipe was made by a team of two people, hence the huge quantities.
with Giorgio Linguanti
- That's Amore (Melbourne)
I was so excited about making mozzarella. If there's a sexy cheese, it's the shiny silky globules of mozzarella - cheese you want to rip apart with your hands and savour slowly.
Pouring 10 litres of milk into the pot
Adding the starter culture (citric acid)
After heating the milk to 36C, slowly transfer to a sterile bucket,
trying to minimise the amount of bubbles
Add the rennet (we used a microbial vegetarian rennet).
Stir through for max 20 seconds as it will start to set -
leave to set for about 30 minutes.
Check that the curds have set sufficently by checking that
a wedge-shaped segment will lift out easily
Cut the curds into 2cm cubes by slicing lengthways, widthways
and then down at a 45 degree angle toward the bottom of the tub
Use a slotted spoon or clean hands to gently move the curds
around, which will help them release more whey (liquids).
Leave for 20 minutes.
Wash the curds by adding about 1 litre of boiling water
Use a slotted spoon or clean hands to gently
move the curds about
Use a small bowl to transfer the whey to a colander in a sterile tub.
When you mostly have wet curds left in the tub, pour into the colander.
Keep the whey if you wish to make ricotta, otherwise discard.
Allow curds to drain and sit for 30 min.
After 30min flip the colander and turn the drained curd upside down
Place the curd directly into a sterile tub and dice roughly
Add enough boiling water so the curds are immersed in enough liquid to be
plied together until soft. Use two wooden spoons to help you bring the
curds together, a little like making dough.
When the curds become pliable, use your hands to knead
and stretch the mozzarella until it is shiny.
The cheese needs to be in hot water to melt the curds,
so dip your hands in cold water beforehand so
you can work with the hot water more easily.
Fold the mozzarella back onto itself and continue
stretching and looping
Use your fingers to gently tease out an umbrella shape
Squeeze the umbrella closed through your thumb and index finger
to create a smooth and shiny ball of mozzarella
Continue making balls or twist the cheese into plaits
You can also poke a stuffed olive inside before you close the umbrella
to make fancy mozzarella surprises!
Makes about 4 medium rectangular takeaway boxes of mozzarella balls.
Making camembert with Clare Bailey
- Hunter Belle, Upper Hunter Valley
At the same time as were making the mozzarella. we also set about making camembert. All that time waiting around for curds and whey is best invested in making even more cheese!
The camembert making was led by Clare Bailey,
a qualified cheese maker who was the first student in NSW
to study cheese making as part of her HSC.
She is now 20 but has worked with Hunter Belle since she was 15
We heated 6 litres of milk into a pot to a temperature of 40C. We gently stirred in a prepared starter culture, distributing it evenly throughout the milk. Let the milk sit for 30 min.
After 30min, check that the milk temperature is 38C-40C, otherwise reheat.
Add the rennet (stir through gently but quickly) and allow it to stand for 30min.
After 30min you should have soft curds. Create 2cm cubes by cutting
lengthways, widthways and then down at a 45 degree angle toward the
bottom of the tub. Leave for 30min (the yellow colour is from the
cream of the unhomogenised milk)
After 30min use either a sterile slotted spoon or clean hands to gently move the
curds about, checking the corners for large chunks which you can
cut into cubes as necessary. Leave the curds for another 30mins.
Stir gently again and leave for 20min.
Stir gently again and leave for 10min.
Scoop out half the whey off the curds.
Gently ladle the curds into moulds (we used sterile plastic pipes) set on a
rack lined with gauze or cheesecloth above a tray. This stage is known as hooping.
Allow the curds to sit for 15min.
Place your hand over the top of the mould and then quickly flip the mould upside down, back onto the rack.
After 30min, flip again.
After another 30min, flip a final time.
Leave on a rack overnight, covering the moulds with plastic to retain as much warmth as possible.
The next morning, bathe the cheeses in a litre of chilled 20% saltwater solution, 10 minutes on each side.
Transfer the cheeses to a container with holes in the lid and leave in the warmest part of your fridge (usually the vegetable crisper) for at least a week to develop mould. After a week, the cheese can be wrapped as a camembert, or washed in a Brevi solution to create a washed rind cheese.
Clare with camemberts that had drained overnight
Claudia McIntosh gives a briefing on cheese principles and theory
Clare checks the curds
Cheese makers at work
So I have two miniature wheels of camembert sitting in my fridge right now. It's funny how often I feel compelled to check on them, like tending to precious babies. And whilst it's hard to reconcile that the cheese will not be ready for at least a week, it does give some perspective on why cheeses cost as much as they do, especially considering how much love goes into each product.
The fridge is quiet right now, but I know that good things come to those that wait.
Grab Your Fork attended the McIntosh and Bowman Cheese Making Workshop as a guest of TourismNSW for the Sydney International Food Festival.
Related GrabYourFork posts:
SIFF 2009 - Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour
SIFF 2009 - Nose-to-tail barbecue with Fergus Henderson
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - World Chef Showcase
Cooking class - Chocolate workshop with Kimberley Chocolates
Cooking class - Kaiseki cooking with Kei's Kitchen
Cooking class - Modern Mexican with VictorsFood
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10/20/2009 02:10:00 a.m.