Author Topic: Valencay options  (Read 1351 times)

Offline mulish

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Valencay options
« on: August 29, 2012, 02:08:53 PM »
After much error & many trials, I have finally started turning out some delicious mold ripened cheeses.  I have been making a couple of 2+ gal batches of these a week, loosely following the Valencay recipe in 200 easy homemade cheeses.  When I say loosely, I mean that I use the ingredients in roughly the given amounts, but don't obey the instructions to the letter.  I wish I had more time to spend in the intricacies of the making, but I just don't.  If a cheese has more steps than I can take on in 10-15 min a few days a week, it is not an option.  So, I milk the goats, strain the milk & let it sit for a couple of hours to cool then add culture/molds/rennet/calcium chloride & let sit for 16-20 hours.  I dip into molds & drain at room temp for 1-2 days (room temp has been close to 80F lately, so have had to adjust.  Then unmold/salt/ash & into 55F wine fridge cave for 2 weeks or as long as we can wait.  At unmolding, there has been much growth of rind on the exposed tops.  The final product is mild, slightly dry & takes firm pressure to slice.  I do find some hints of faint bitterness here and there when tasting - especially in corners - but not enough to make a "bad" taste.  Admittedly, I have not consumed much of this style cheese, until now, so I don't know what to expect - but it gets pretty rave reviews at home & literally disappears in a flash at parties.

I learned so much by reading this thread:  http://cheeseforum.org/forum/index.php/topic,9063.0.html  - about pre-draining & such.  I am looking into some of the fast-draining Italian molds described there, as they would fit my time better than the pre-drain.
I have been using whatever smooth sided molds are clean when time to dip curd & the flavor really intensifies with the flatter cheeses - assuming this is because of the greater ratio of rind.

My questions:
What are the parameters for aging this cheese longer, & what should I expect with regard to composition?  Currently, it just seems to get drier & drier.  I'm a little worried about the faint bitterness, as I would not want this to grow stronger.  I have been moving to refrigerator at about 2 weeks to make room, but could possibly work another shelf into the cave if longer time at 55F would be beneficial.

Can I make my own ash by pulverizing the natural charcoal generated by my smoker?  I use lots of cherry now, & some pecan & hickory - will any of these work?  woods to avoid?

I somewhat understand the role of each ingredient in this cheese except the calcium chloride - what does it do & is it necessary?  I read it can be used to compensate for seasonal changes in milk?  What kind of changes?


Thanks in advance for any help!









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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2012, 03:23:28 PM »
I just want to say that those are some fine looking cheeses! 

Wish I could answer your questions, but really have no idea.  This forum and the people here are excellent resources!  I hope your questions are answered : )

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2012, 02:15:50 AM »
Valençay and actually all of these Loire style lactic goat cheeses have always been cheeses that were made to fir the schedule of the farmer-cheesemaker, not the other way around. It really doesn't need much time. Inoculate the milk on day 1 (10 minutes), mould on day 2 (10 minutes) unmould, salt and cave at day 3 (10-15 min). Then turn it daily (1 minute).  It's a real "set if and forget it" family of cheeses.

So first thing, you said that you were looking for the fast-draining Italian Caprino style moulds.  You would be happy to know that I actually stock and sell these. Please send me a personal message and I will get you set up with some moulds!

Now for the cheese:
The flavor of the real thing (especially the un-pasteurized version) is very tangy, salty and lots of grassy properties. It has a strong lingering buttery finish and aftertaste.  The texture is initially chalky and moist, but over time the center of the cheese becomes drier while the outward becomes soft and gooey. This is true for Valençay and Sainte Maure, but not so much for Crottin which becomes harder and drier as it ages.  When Valençay ages it tends to ammoniate (it begins to liquify from the outside in.) The initial liquification is tasty and supple in great contrast to the chalky heart of the cheese (like having two cheeses in one!).  However eventually this turns into ammonia which is biting, unpleasant and not desired. That would be considered "over the hill".  You can prevent ammoniation by reducing moisture and storage temperature as the cheese ages. Another way is to stabilize the cheese with a thermophilic strain, but unfortunately this could also prevent the pleasant liquification effect from taking place, so perhaps it is best to come to term with the fact that this cheese should be consumed when it is in its prime and stored well to extend the prime period.

As for the rind, it is fluffy but very thin and light. There is almost no bite to it at all. You can't peel it off.  This is difficult to get right and takes a bit of practice. Rinds tend to age thick and rubbery but that's not what you want. The ash layer is faint. Not heavy. It should never smear ash all over the cheese with the knife cutting it and you don't want ash on the teeth of the the people consuming it.  A good practice is to mix the ash with the salt and then just salt the cheese with this "black salt" mixture.  (I do 1 part ash to 5 parts salt).

I thnk that answers your first batch of questions.
As for your ash question - absolutely! Go ahead and make your own mould. It needs to be as thin as flour though. really pulverize it. Be mindful of charcoals that have an aroma as it will transfer to the cheese. Traditionally this cheese is made with the ash of grape vine branches, but these days everyone use activated charcoal which is a neutral product without flavor/aroma.

Now this will answer all the other questions hiding in your text:
Let me start by commenting on your process:
First, I would suggest to inoculate the milk when it's still fresh. You are introcucing bacterial starters that can out-compete pathogens which is good for raw milk cheese. Don't worry about cooling the milk. It will have many hours so it will stabilize down to room temperature anyway.

Secondly, I think the cheese needs time to build more acid in it. It will make it more tangy and the rind won't show (or at least not as strong) on the cheese too early because the cheese will be very acidic so the yeasts will take more time to de-acidify it and allow the rind to grow.

You want to drain it in a cooler place. It can even be inside the moulds -in the cave. 80°F i a bit high. If the rind begins to grow too quickly, it will trap lots of moisture in and the cheese will never properly be drained. This causes that ammonia buildup, thick skin and worst - slipping skin.

As far as not following the instructions perfectly - you still want to make sure your culture dosage is correct and that you are not putting too much rennet. (these cheeses take very little rennet). Too much rennet can cause bitterness. This may be what you are describing.  Also, vegetable based and animal based rennet has different bitterness aging properties so you can play with that.

Now, getting to the Calcium Chloride part of your question:
When milk is pasteurized, it looses lots of calcium.  If you try to coagulate it, it will not hold together very well. Curd will be too soft and yield will be low. Calcium chloride is added to the milk in order to put the missing calcium back where it belongs.  If you are using your own raw milk - DO NOT ADD THE CALCIUM!  You are over-loading the milk with calcium. You may end up with overly stiff or chalky cheese and it may taste bitter/soapy.

I hope this helps!

Offline mtncheesemaker(Pam)

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2012, 08:19:56 AM »
Those are nice looking cheeses! Which cultures and how much rennet are you using per 2 gallon batch?
Pam

Offline mulish

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2012, 09:36:16 AM »
thanks, bbracken & mtncheesemaker.  Pam, I use 2 drops animal rennet for 2+ gallons, diluted in water.  If I have a little less milk, I use less rennet.  I alternate between MM100 & Meso B.

Thanks so much, iratherfly, I'm pretty sure you've hit the nail on the head with Don't Add Calcium!  As I get more batches of this cheese under my belt (so to speak), I am noticing that they are consistently a bit more chalky & dry than I would like for them to be.  Given your explanation, I bet this is the main issue, & thankfully, easily corrected.

We have been modifying our tiny farm kitchen & added a window ac into the wall, so I should be able to lower & stabilize my drain temp now.  I have not had issues with slipped skin or too much moisture since I stopped trying to age cheese in plastic containers.  I use clear bins to drain & then the cheeses go directly to layered mats on shelves in the cave - what a difference!  I am embarrassed to think of all of the years of unsuccessful batches of cheese that may have been great, had I not put them in plastic bins.  But, one shouldn't cry over spilled milk/spoiled cheese - the chickens surely don't & it does make nice eggs!

I took a cheese to a local monger for a critique & he praised the salt & rind but thought that it was too dry for its age - around 12 days when tasted.  He let me taste a similar cheese from a neighboring state, & it was so citrusy I would have sworn that it had lemon zest in it.  I loved the texture - it had a nice contrast of chalk/creaminess - but do prefer the flavor of mine.
I am excited to try my own ash - I hope that it does add a bit of flavor/interest.  Will let you know & will message about the molds.

I am so happy to have found a cheese with some complexity that fits into our crazy life - it certainly makes the work of having  goats that much more rewarding.
thanks for your help.


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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 10:55:42 PM »
You are welcome! True, these cheeses are just NEVER as drained as you think they are so taking it out of the boxes make sense, but they should reach their prime between day 14 and day 21, so if they are overly dry at day 12 -you may want to consider putting more humidity in the room or putting them in partially covered containers.  I would also try to focus on impriving the microbial quality of the room. When the geo and pc are living in the rock formation of the cave or your bricks/concrete, you get a much better and wilder growth and that gives the cheese serious quality improvement.

The purpose of the ash is to be an alkaline - it tapers the acidity on the surface and traps the moisture. It's otherwise usually quite neutral, but go ahead -give it your own special touch!

Acidity will help bring forward all those flavors you are looking for and give you even better aging control. Try coagulating it longer! Tell me what you think of the flavor different. Should be more citrucy and tangy.

It is apparent from your photos that you don't have a slipping rind issue (which most people have at one point with these). Still, you can have less ash and thinner rind. They look really nice!

Offline Spellogue

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Re: Valencay options
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2012, 01:05:42 PM »
I made Valencay last month for the fist time and really liked the make too.  I used raw milk from our Nigerian Dwarfs.  What breed of goats do you raise?  I love the Nigerians and their sweet, high butterfat milk, but I'm thinking of adding a full size girl or two to the herd for more volume. 

I made ash from store-bought hickory charcoal and was pleased with the results.  Takes a good bit of effort to pulverize the ash fine enough though.  I ground it to a slurry with water in the vitamix and dried it in a food dehydrator on waxed paper sheets.  I still had to sift and grind with a mortar and pestle.  You want it as close to the fineness of baby powder as you can get it.  It's all I've used so I don't know from experience how different the flavor might be from ash made from other woods or vegetable matter.  You'll probably want to steer clear of pine and other evergreens though.  They tend to produce a resinous charcoal that might give unpleasant flavor elements.

It seems to me that the ash changes the character of the cheese much more than imparting its own flavor.  I expected my Pouligny to be a 'Valencay without the ash' but it really was a very different cheese in the offering. 
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