I thought folks might be quite interested in hearing about my attempts at making a historical English cheese, 'Slip-coat cheese'. (I wasn't sure whether to put it in 'fresh lactic cheese' thread or in an 'aged cheese thread' or somewhere else, so here it is.) There are a few recipes for this in old sources - Sir Kenelm Digby, in his book
, recorded hundreds of old recipes for meads, XXXX ales, and slip-coat cheeses, while Martha Washington, wife of George Washington, records a recipe for what is basically a slip-coat cheese in her cookbook as well. (I believe English Coulommiers is a cheese very similar to the slip-coat, too - Rikki Carroll has a Coulommiers recipe in her book Home Cheese Making
The idea slip-coat is simple enough - curds are wrapped in cheesecloth, pressed and shaped under a light weight, and then left to age for a few days, until they skin of the cheese pulls away from the cheesecloth - 'slips out of the coat'.
So here's how I went about it (I'm going from my very undetailed notes - which means I'm actually going from my memory)
2 litres milk
400 ml cream*
1 tablespoon villi mesophilic yoghurt
1/3 tsp rennet
1. I heated the milk to 30 degrees celsius, added culture and left for half an hour. Added rennet, stirred, and left for another three quarters of an hour.
2. When the milk had clabbered, I cut and stirred it for a bit, still at 30 degrees celsius. Wasn't too fussy about it though, after 15 minutes or so I scooped the curds out and popped them in a cheesecloth bag and hung them to drip for a few hours.
3. I loaded the curds into the mould and pressed them overnight under a very light weight. I can't remember what exactly, but I think I just plonked a full jar of water on top of them. Oh, I probably added salt before I pressed them. The recipes I consulted seem to think only a very little salt was necessary.
4. Aged the cheese in its coat for a few days until it pulled away. It was, I admit, a bit wobbly at first....
The taste? Mild with a kind of acidic tang - I actually attribute this to the villi rather than, say, the salting, because at that time the villi was still quite fresh and had that cultured 'tang' for its first few regenerations. The texture? Lovely and creamy. A bit like a brie, actually.
I want to do another one (or, hey, maybe a few!) this year, though this time I might be a little bit more organised about it, and take notes from Carroll as well as Washington and Digby.
Here ends my story about slip-coat cheese!*Martha Washington's recipe calls for '1 pint cream and 1 quart stroakings from cow'. 'Stroakings' are the super-rich, creamy bits of the milk that come when you first start milking the cow. So to replicate this I felt at liberty to add cream.