We had a big storm, Sunday before last, and we had a 9-hour power cut. That was no problem in itself but meant I couldn't cook dinner. That meant I gave into temptation and opened the first two Cheshires, outlined at the beginning of this post.
The first, the smaller piece at the top of the first image, was made using a single-strain, L. lactis starter. It was pressed with a makeshift arrangement before I made my cheese press and was allowed to dry out a bit too much. It was also allowed to rise to too high a temp during the cheddaring phase which meant it didn't knit particularly well.
The second Cheshire, the lower of the two cheeses in the top photo, was made with a more multi-strain (L. lactis, L. lactis cremoris, L. lactis biovar diacetylactis, S. thermophilus) blend. Both of these have now been maturing, waxed, for two months. I cut a bit off the ends and then rewaxed the wheels to age further.
Both cheshires are white in appearance and crumbly in texture, but the first cheshire crumbled to the cut. You can see this in the second picture more clearly, where the first cheshire is at the top of the plate. The second Cheshire had a waxier, cheesier, texture, while still being a little crumbly. The second cheese had a much more rounded palate, which is not surprising considering the larger number of different cultures working away.
I'd like to say that these cheeses didn't have the flavour profiles I was looking for, but they didn't seem to hang around for long! They're decent, mediocre cheeses, but they've been a valuable learning process for me. What I've learned is:
- What I'm looking for isn't these heavily pressed cheshires, which are more like aged cheddar. I'm looking for something younger, fresher, and moister.
- These cheeses are drier than I want, and I have created that through being too zealous in my stirring. I'll stir the next batch less.
- Because the cheese were dry, they needed a lot of weight for pressing. So I'll press the next batch with less weight as well.
- I might like to allow a little more acid development and salt a bit more.
I definitely wouldn't call this a failed experiment, more a step in the learning process. And I haven't opened Cheshire #3 yet.