Started this batch of Valencay 11/20/2012 around 7:30 pm I loosely followed Peter Dixon's recipe but his is pretty general because it covers a whole slew of French bloomy goat and cow cheeses with just a few details about what sets each make apart. I am only somewhat good at closely following directions.
2 1/2 gallons of raw NIgerian Dwarf goat milk. (high in solids)
Right away I'm wondering to adjust for the milk type. I know my milk sets up very solid with little provocation and I want this batch to come out well. I decide to just follow Peter Dixon's recipe for timing and amounts with just a few minor changes. He offers different recommendations for amount of cultures depending upon how long you want the milk to ripen. I chose his quickest interval of 15-20 hours because it would best fit my desire to sleep through the night!
At 7:30 pm heated milk to 72F
1/8 tsp MM101
1/16 tsp MD88 (this culture does not acidify and is added for buttery flavor. I'm experimenting with it)
1/8 tsp PC SAM (I'm trying to use this one up and move onto my better stuff)
1/8 tsp Geo 13
Leave for 25 minutes and add 1 mm single strength calf rennet. (I've only used double strength vegetable rennet before so this one is new to me)
Checked at 7:30 am and there wasn't the 1/2" of whey over the curd that would be a clue that it might be ready to put into molds or pre-drain so I went up to the barn to do chores. Returned to house at 10:30 and cut into horizontal columns about 1 1/2". This is my idea.....the curd is VERY solid now despite the fact that there still isn't a half inch of whey over the top. This milk has such a high level of solids there just wasn't much whey for the curd to float in. The curd almost filled the whole pot. In fact, it is so solid I decide to experiment and not pre-drain it. I had planned a pre-drain even though my previous two batches hadn't been pre-drained and had come out nicely.
I used a shallow ladle to scoop slices of the columns and fill the molds. I start with the 3 Valencay pyramid molds knowing I'll want to keep adding curd as the level sinks. Then I moved onto the little tiny molds that I got from Yoav. I want to make small cheeses and wrap them in brandy-soaked leaves. I have some large Cercis canadensis leaves in the freezer but even if those don't work I want to be ready for next growing season by using the winter to perfect a small cheese that will fit.
I used a flat butter spreader to poke the curds a bit once they were in the molds.....I wanted to jostle the air pockets out to improve the knit. I also cut the curds smaller as a by product of the jostling and I hoped that would help also.
I was concerned that with such thick and solid curd that the cheeses wouldn't drain down into a cohesive unit. I added more curds to the pyramid molds a couple of times.
Here are the tiny molds and the tiny cheeses. And then photos showing the entire make. Remember, this is out of only 2 1/2 gallons of milk! I did some leaf adorning again. It worked out so well that other time I couldn't resist. I'll post a photo of that make at the bottom.
The make was started Friday evening. Saturday they were molded. Sunday (today) I dusted them with an ash/salt mixture of 6 parts salt to 1 part ash and then applied the leaves. The leaves are from a plant called "Scented Geranium" although it is not the plant most people associate with the name "geranium" which is an annual whose latin name is actually Pelargonium. This plant still has leaves on it here in the Northeast. In fact, I picked some more leaves tonight in the dark. So far I have only used these after vacuum baggin, freezing them and then thawing them. This makes them limp and it probably helps them stick and stay on the cheese. The moisture of this style cheese is perfect for this leaf adornment.
Tomorrow I'll put these in boxes and let them start to grow some PC.
I'm a little fuzzy about how long it will take them to become fuzzy
and how long after that they need to ripen. I think after a full fuzz coat they are ready to be wrapped and complete their ripening at a slightly colder temp but I'll need to look that up or ask someone. Anyone with suggestions?