2 gallons 0% fat milk, 1 quart heavy cream
1/8th tsp. flora danica
1/16th tsp. LM057
1/16th tsp. Kazu
½ tsp Calcium Chloride if using pasteurized cold stored milk
Annatto for color (1/4 tsp .. optional)
Liquid Rennet ( 1/4 tsp / 23 drops)
Salt for brine (make this up in advance with the info found below)
A colander and butter muslin to drain the curds (I just drained in the mold)
Everything needs to be clean and sanitized.
Heating and Acidifying the milk:
Begin by heating the milk to 88F (31C). If you do this in a pot on the stove make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats. (Actually reached 90F)
Next the CaCl and Annatto can be added before adding the culture.
Make sure you rinse the spoon well after adding the CaCl since any residuals of this will cause the Annatto to precipitate into dark spots that will show up in the finished cheese. Better yet add the Annatto first and stir it in well before adding the CaCl. (Note: I did not use Annatto since I do not have any, but will be an upcoming purchase)
Once the milk is at 86F the culture can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in. Then allow the milk to rest for 1 hour while the culture wakes up and begins doing its work. (Once pH dropped from 6.65 to 6.55, I added the rennet … this was approx. 35 minutes from inoculation)
Coagulation with rennet:
Then add about 1/4 tsp of single strength liquid rennet. (11:10AM)
Check for flocculation, use 4.5x multiplier. Flocc at 11:25
The milk now needs to sit quiet for (target) 67.5 minutes from the time the rennet was added while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd . The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temp drops a few degrees during this time.
Cutting curds and releasing the whey:
The curd is ready to cut when it shows a nice clean even break when lifting with the flat of the cutting knife and then a clean whey in the opening that is neither to milky (cut too soon) or too clear (cut too late). I used the flocculation method and 4.5x multiplier. (cut at 12:32 PM)
The curd can be cut to 1/2" cubes by first cutting the 1/2" vertical cuts as shown below and then using the ladle or spoon to break these into 1/2" pieces as uniformly as possible.
Cooking the curds :
Now it is time to begin drying out the curds. This will be done by increasing the heat slowly to 102F . The heat needs to be increased slowly. The total cooking time will be 30 minutes. The curds can then be gently stirred while holding at the final temperature for another 15-30 minutes if the curds are still soft.
The final curds should be cooked well through and should be examined to make sure that enough moisture has been removed. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers. This is a fairly subjective test (depending on how firm/soft you want the final cheese.)
When this point is reached the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey.
The time spent so far is about 2.5-3 hrs.
Washing the curds:
This is one of the key parts in making this cheese a real Colby cheese.
The curds are now resting on the bottom of the pot at 102F with only a moderate amount of lactose converted to lactic acid. In other words a very sweet cheese curd.
If left in this condition, the lactose (milk sugar) will act as a food source for the bacteria and the result will be a higher acid curd which dries the curd out as the acid develops. The bacteria will also be very happy working at this temperature as well.
We plan to alter this situation by:
removing whey (lactose) -- this will deprive the bacteria of much of its food source and slow things down
adding cold water and cooling the curds to 70-80F -- this will place the bacteria in an environment that it is not happy with and will work much more slowly. The lower the temperature the more affect this has.
In Addition the cold water will begin to increase the moisture of the curd. If the water temperature is lower that the curd temperature the curd moisture increases. If it is higher than the curd temperature it will decrease the moisture (this is how Gouda is made).
Begin by removing the whey down to the level of the curds. (pH 6.42)
Then add water first at 75F as the curd cools to 80-85 with stirring. Then allow the curds to settle again and remove the whey/water down to the curd level again.
Next add very cold water (60F or less) until the curds are at 75F. Took a couple of gallons, perhaps 2.5 to achieve the cooling, draining twice and pouring in cold tap water.
The curd can now be stirred in its cooler state for another 15 -30 minutes as the curds begin to firm up. This will cause the curds to form a skin that will keep them from consolidating fully in the press, leaving some small openings in the final cheese.
At this point the process has taken about 3.5-4 hrs and we are ready for the final stage of molding and pressing.
Final Draining and Molding:
The dry curds can now be transferred to a colander lined with butter muslin. A gentle stirring will make sure that the whey drains off well. The curds are now ready to be transferred to a sanitized muslin lined mold. I just removed as much whey as possible and went straight into the mold.
The curds should be packed into the mold using a moderate hand pressure. The amount of curd formed here may likely be heaped over the top. (I couldn't get all the curds in one form, so I made a cheese and a half lol)
Finally pull the cloth up evenly all around the form to eliminate the wrinkles, fold the top cloth over and place the follower on top. You are now ready to press.
The curds in the form are now still quite wet and heavy pressure early on may lock this moisture in the final cheese. Even though we have slowed down the conversion of lactose to lactic acid, we are still producing acid and will continue this during the final pressing. This means that the cheese will continue to release moisture through the pressing as a bit more acid is present.
So, for pressing we should begin very light and slowly increase the press weight to a moderate level:
15 minutes at 10 lbs. (at each pressing I flipped the cheese at the mid point)
30 minutes at 20 lbs
90 minutes at 40 lbs
Overnight at 50 lbs.
The next morning the cheese can be removed from the mold and cloth.
Finally the pressing is finished and you should have a nicely consolidated wheel of cheese with no surface openings. This should still feel quite springy and elastic with mild hand pressure still. The surface should not feel at all sticky at this point.
You should have a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese. (I used a 20% brine solution. In researching brining in cheesemaking I made some discoveries: 1. You should add some calcium chloride to your brine…this will prevent the brine from leaching cacl2 from your cheese. 2. You want your brine to be close to the same acidity level as your cheese. I added just a small pinch of citric acid to reduce the pH of my brine solution. The combination of added cacl2 and acidity will prevent the sliminess you may sometimes get during or after brining. This explains much with regards to a couple of my feta makes and the resulting surface texture during aging and storage. )
A simple brine formula is:
1 Gallon of water to which is added 2.25 Lbs of Salt, 1tbs. Calcium Chloride (30% solution), and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
The cheese now needs to be set in the brine for about 8 hours. (perfect since my cheese weighed in at 2 lbs, 3 ozs after pressing….after brining it was 2.0 lbs. )
The cheese will float above the brine surface so sprinkle another teaspoon or 2 of salt on the top surface of the cheese. …act I just flipped it as often as possible keeping all surfaces wet.
Flip the cheese and resalt the surface about half way through the brine period.
At the end of the brine bath, wipe the surface and allow the cheese to surface dry for a day or two before waxing. The surface will darken somewhat during this time. This is where I am currently at.
The cheese can now be waxed for aging. I will be vacuum bagging it.
The cheese can then be placed into your aging space at 52-56F and 80-85% moisture.
The cheese can now be aged for 4-6 weeks and it will ready for your table.
Couple of pictures coming tomorrow as the cheese is removed from the press and forms.
Everything went well. Oddly though, I made a couple of tablespoons of butter...right before rennet I skimmed what appeared to be butter off the top lol Tasted very good!