Author Topic: My First Blue  (Read 1368 times)

Offline Mike Richards

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My First Blue
« on: March 09, 2013, 01:29:05 PM »
I'm working on my first blue.  I'm kind of following the recipe from Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: rindless blue.  I'm stealing the mold from a Danish Blue.  I opened the cheese and took the mold immediately to prevent unnecessary contamination.  Later, after adding it to the milk, I tasted the cheese and was surprised that it wasn't the cheese I had thought it was.  In fact, it wasn't very good compared to the cheese I thought I was using.  Now I just hope that my cheese turns out better than this one...that the flavor I don'r like is not a result of the PR strain, but something else in their make.  We'll see.

Pictures to follow...
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2013, 02:29:01 PM »
I'm going to watch closely!  This is next on my list.....at least I'd like to try some type of blue.  I'd like a mild blue style but don't have experience eating blue cheese.   :)

Offline JeffHamm

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2013, 03:41:57 PM »
Hi Mike,

Can you elaborate on what it was about the flavour you didn't care for?  People might be able to indicate if it's something likely to come from the strain of PR or something from another aspect of the make. 

Tiarella,

I would suggest trying a number of different blues before making one, and find what you like.  If you've not eaten a lot of blue cheese, you will probably want one of the milder types, in order to develop your taste for them.  They can be really great, but they do have their own flavour, which can be hard to describe.  Sort of like trying to describe what lamb tastes like to someone who has only eaten chicken, pork, and beef.  All you can say is, well, it doesn't taste like chicken ... :)

- Jeff
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2013, 05:35:22 PM »
Jeff, being on a somewhat limited budget  (high land taxes here) I'd love suggestions about what blues might be mild so I know what to try to find a small bit of at some shop.  Any suggestions?   :D

Offline JeffHamm

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2013, 07:16:35 PM »
Hi Tiarella,

I tend to like the stilton types, I've not tried the cambozola (sp? camembert with blue added) but it is supposed to be very mild.  There is a cheesemaker back in Nova Scotia (the Dutchman he goes by) who makes this great blue cheese he calls "dragon's breath", which despite its name is a nice creamy and mild blue.  I'm not a real expert on blue cheeses though, but there are a lot of people on the board who will be able to list a bunch for you.  But, the best advice will come from asking the cheese monger directly.  Get them to recommend a mild blue, tell them you've not had blue before, etc.  Remember, it's in their best interest to get you hooked!. 

- Jeff
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2013, 08:58:43 PM »
Thanks Jeff--as you say, though, it's hard to describe what aspect of the flavor I don't like.  I'll try:

The flavor starts of great, just like I want it to, but after a few seconds on the tongue, a more "chemical" or "industrial" flavor (best way I think to describe it) hits the sides of my tongue.  After swallowing, the aftertaste continues with that industrial flavor, though less pronounced, and it is augmented by a bit of heat/irritation in the back of the throat.

If I could get the starting flavor and avoid the follow-on flavor and sensation, I'd be thrilled.  I've had a blue like that before, and that's what I thought I was getting.  I wonder if/am hopeful that having a little less veining will limit the flavor to more of the initial taste.  The cheese I thought I was getting didn't have nearly as much veining as this one I've got now.

Tia, I'll let you know how it goes.  Jeff's advice to try a bunch is a great idea.  Had I recognized that I wasn't getting what I thought I was, I would have done something similar.  If this doesn't turn out, that's what I'll try.  Also--you should try a cambozola.  It was one of my first "strange" cheeses and the whole reason I decided to learn to make Camembert and blue (though now that I have had other good cheeses, I have additional reasons to want to make each separately).

milk in sink

You can see some fat chunks floating on top.  I had about 5% milk fat here.  (Notice I put insulation around the sides of the vat)

cut curds

I like to show pictures while my curds still look good.  By the time  I got done with this, the curds were really mashed up and not so nice looking.  One problem I have not yet been able to resolve with this sink is how to use the drain effectively.  So far, I tried to use a big cheese mat to push all of the curds past the drain and then open the drain.  Unfortunately, I couldn't hold the mat stable enough and curds kept escaping past it.  After that, I let the curds drain on their own, which clogged the drain immediately.  Once that happened, I started stirring in the drain, essentially mashing any curds blocking the flow though the drain.  While doing this, I held a strainer under the drain and caught all the mashed up curds.  That was last time.  This time, I took some cheese mat, and cut it to fit the drain, and put it under the plug, providing a bigger area for the whey to flow through.  When I started draining, it worked well for a bit, but then got clogged, too.  I need something that will filter out the curds, but let the whey through.  If I can get the filter far enough away from the drain, the velocity of the whey won't be too great, and the curds won't get sucked up against the filter.  I think my first idea would work if I attached it to a rigid framework.  I'll add that to my list of things to figure out...back to today's cheese.

[img width= height= alt=cheese in mold]https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/601197_309099679215479_823434415_n.jpg[/img]

I used 2 of my cam molds.  The plan is to pierce one as the recipe says (4 holes per square inch, I think), and one with a lot fewer to see if I can get the flavor I want.

top view of cheese

I actually had 2 1/3 molds filled when I started draining.  But, I didn't want to manage them all, so I took the 1/3, cut it in half and put half in each of the other two, filling up the space that they had compressed down to during draining.  I'm pretty sure it will all knit together...
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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2013, 10:24:13 PM »
Hmm, industrial taste.  That sounds like the cheese amoniated a bit maybe?  This occurs during the aging, I think if the humidity is too high, or temperature high (or both?), and isn't PR strain dependent (unless some are more prone to it than others?)  As you can tell, my ignorance is starting to show.  I only know enough to know I need to learn a lot more!  :) 

Anyway, as I recall, one way to prevent this is to air the cheese out 30 min to an hour a day.  Also, if you use a ripening box, I've seen others recommend storing the cheese on the lid, and put the box on top (like a cake lid).  The amonia is heavier than air, so it will clear away from the cheese during ripening.  But I think it's the fact the cheese is producing amonia in the first place that affects the flavour? 

Those who are more experience with blues can give tips on how to prevent this.

- Jeff
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2013, 10:34:30 PM »
Thanks, Jeff.  It could be ammonia, though I'm somewhat familiar with that flavor.  I got this one (with the "industrial" flavor) from the store and it's supposed to be good through September...

The upside down thing is interesting--I'll have to read up on that.  For now, I'll keep hoping that this flavor isn't a necessary consequence of the PR strain I'm using.  And, if it is, I'll just be more careful about choosing a good donor next time.  That's one of the great things that I've become accustomed to through cheesemaking--less than optimal results (and some flat out failures) don't phase me too much.
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2013, 05:27:15 PM »
So, either I've gotten used to the strange flavor and throat irritant, or it has subsided somewhat since opening the cheese.  I know I'm supposed to wait after opening a cheese before I eat it, but I've never been good at that.  Today's taste of the store-bought blue has less of the "paint" (my new descriptor for the flavor) flavor.  The aftertaste is still present, though.  Overall, I'm more hopeful now than I was before.

The two cheeses are slowly compressing.  I measured the pH last night and it was at 5.5.  I'm supposed to keep it molded and at room temp until it gets down to 4.8.  I think I'll go measure it again...4.85.  Wow, that went fast.  I believe the rate of pH decrease slows as the pH gets lower.  I'll check again in a few hours to see where it's at.
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Offline bbracken677

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2013, 05:55:54 PM »
I know from my own experience that I am a LOT more critical of the finer nuances in flavor in my own cheeses than I am with store bought.  I made a stilton that I was being very critical of, and bought a small piece to compare against directly....I found that mine wasnt so far off after all, and once I got past that I actually enjoyed it  lol


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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2013, 06:00:59 PM »
Hi Mike,

Glad to hear that the paint is coming off! :)  Airing a cheese after cutting it, and letting it come up to room temperature is hard to do, but really does make a difference.  I know that when I open a waxed cheese it often takes a few days for it to air out properly, otherwise it has a sort of fruity flavour to it. 

- Jeff
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2013, 09:21:49 PM »
A problem that I have with waiting is that I get some cheese out to let warm up, and munch on things in the meantime.  So, when it comes time to eat the cheese, I no longer have the appetite.  I'll have to work on that. :)
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Offline Boofer

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 08:43:19 AM »
Jeff, being on a somewhat limited budget  (high land taxes here) I'd love suggestions about what blues might be mild so I know what to try to find a small bit of at some shop.  Any suggestions?   :D
Sorry, Kathrin, I didn't see this thread until now.

Last year, almost to the day, I sampled a number of blues to develop my blue/bleu palate.

There are certainly a lot more blue cheeses out there than what I sampled, but I identified a few that surprised me. Formerly, my idea of blue cheese was a dish of "blue crumbles" alongside the restaurant salad bar. :o

FWIW.

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Offline Tiarella

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2013, 01:19:34 PM »
Jeff, being on a somewhat limited budget  (high land taxes here) I'd love suggestions about what blues might be mild so I know what to try to find a small bit of at some shop.  Any suggestions?   :D
Sorry, Kathrin, I didn't see this thread until now.

Last year, almost to the day, I sampled a number of blues to develop my blue/bleu palate.

There are certainly a lot more blue cheeses out there than what I sampled, but I identified a few that surprised me. Formerly, my idea of blue cheese was a dish of "blue crumbles" alongside the restaurant salad bar. :o

FWIW.

-Boofer-


Hey Boofmeister!   ;D  Glad you're weighing in on this.  Also glad you can't hear me trying to say "bleu" and not look stupid.   ;)  I will carefully read your "bleu" tasting thread and do some tasting of some I can find around here.  Hope they taste "bleu" and not 'blech"!  I'll post on it but it will be a while before I get down into the valley where resides the cheeses made by other peoples. (help, protect me from the grammar police!)  -Kathrin

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: My First Blue
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2013, 09:19:52 PM »
Question on salting:

I've just salted these for the first time.  I wasn't really thinking when I did it--just put salt all over them.  Some portion of the salt has run off with the whey (they've had eyes for each other since childhood).  Now, had I been thinking, I would have measured how much salt I put on them in the first place, and at this point I would be distraught because I wouldn't have known how much of what I put on actually went into the cheese.  Luckily, I have no idea regardless and I'll just put some more salt on it tomorrow (I might actually weigh it, this time, though).

So for the question:  I want a final salt content of 2.5-3% by weight.  How much overage would you add to account for the run-off?
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...