Edible, homemade camembert

I just wanted to share. After 5 weeks of waiting, I tried the first of my camemberts, and it was good – something I haven’t got to say about much of my cheese lately. We ate it as part of a massive lunch the other day and my friend took the above shot.

After 6 hours out of the fridge, it had become really soft, spreadable like thick cream cheese although not as runny as mayonnaise. I would have liked slightly more ooze but I’m not complaining. The flavour needs to develop more. It had a good hint of ammonia and a bit of a kick but it was still a bit bland, almost supermarket cheese like. I’m not sure how to develop that, but I’ll have a think before in my next batch. The rind though, it was perfect: white, paperthin and downy soft.

The other news is that our fridge broke. By broken, I mean it is stuck at around 12C. This explains why our milk kept going off, and why my last few cheese batches had problems –  my rennet was being kept at too high a temperature (although I think it might also have been past its use-by date).

The good part of this is that the broken fridge is now sitting at the almost perfect temperature for maturing cheese. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend thinks I did it deliberately. In there is the second camembert, which I’m going to mature to about 7 weeks to see the difference, and a blue which is now about 4 weeks old. It’s just starting to get some blue mould so I’ll post about it too shortly. I made it at my cheese course, which was excellent. I have some photos that I’ll try to put up in the next few days.

Homemade cheddar – part 1

I started my first hard cheese last weekend. My small block of cheddar is now air-drying in a cupboard and in a few months I’ll see if it worked!

I used a recipe from David Fankhauser, whose website provides a really useful collection of cheese-making recipes and resources.  I particularly like the use of readily available cultures, like yoghurt and buttermilk.

It is always good when the cheese making matches what is expected in the recipe – so when my curds sunk and turned out like firm scrambled eggs I was really excited. Even more so when, after using my new cheese press for the first time, an actual block of cheese was produced.

I’m now trying to figure out the whole process of drying and ageing – there seem to be so many options around bandaging, waxing, temperature and humidity requirements, and lots written on makeshift ways of getting around the fact it’s unlikely most people have a cheese cave in an urban flat, especially upstairs like me.

So, having decided on a naked air-drying approach…my cheese is in the kitchen tea cupboard and I’m zealously checking it every day for a rind. There’s none yet but I think that’s ok. Then I can decide how  and where I will age it.

In my attempts to unpick all of this, I’ve found lots of useful sites and articles, so I’m going to  put those together onto a new page soon.