Washed rind cheeses are some of my favourites so I really had to have a go. I opened the first (of two) yesterday. This was much earlier than I expected but the sides were splitting and oozing every time I turned them, no matter how carefully. This was just over 4 weeks from the start of the make but I was concerned that they might be headed over the hill.
I used Gianaclis Caldwell's recipe for an ale washed cheese, the only modification being the use of MM100 culture, that being what I had on hand. The washing regime consisted of turning daily and washing alternate sides with ale brine (~3%) on alternate days for 3 weeks, at a temperature of ~13C. I then reduced the temp. to ~7C to slow the ripening and halved the washing frequency. The cheese were kept in a sealed, or almost sealed, ripening container to maintain a high humidity.
The rind developed nicely, although with little odour. After a couple of weeks some whitish, thickened patches appeared (geo?), most notably around the sides. I am wondering if this could have been because the sides were washed more frequently?
On opening, I discovered that there was some proteolysis under the rind and particularly on the sides, but that most of the paste was still quite firm. The taste is excellent, both the firm paste and the softened, but I could not detect anything in the taste which I would attribute to the ale. While I am very pleased with the outcome, this cheese does bring some questions to mind:
- Is this timescale typical of this type of cheese or am I right in thinking that it has developed rather rapidly?
- Should I use a plain brine in future and just drink the ale or is it important in developing the rind, if not the flavour?
- I think I read somewhere that some washed rind cheeses are bound around the sides to support them. Has anyone tried this and what could I use?
Thanks, in advance, for any thoughts on these matters.