My Ripening Schedule:
The Ripening Schedule.
Based on the comments and teachings from the cheese forum this schedule is really a ‘It Depends’. Theoretically once the cheeses are placed in the ripening containers it is a daily inspection and smell. For the first 3-4 days there won’t be much activity and the cheese will smell slightly sweet and will continue to drain whey. For this period I empty the liquid that collects in the container, wipe the container dry, flip the cheeses and place back into the Cheese fridge. I have mine set at 10 Degrees C.
Someone made the comparison of ripening this style of this cheese to cooking chicken, Cook too fast and it gets burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Same with these, getting too much mold growth too fast on the cheese is like cooking it too fast. The end result will be a thick rind, runny on the outside just underneath the rind and chalky in the middle. Also there is a distinct Ammonia smell and the cheese will not taste very nice.
After about 5 days – could be 7 (it all depends) there will be a covering of very fine white fuzzy covering. The mold is very fragile at this stage so try and touch it a little as possible while still cleaning the container and flipping the cheese until the cheese is fully covered. The sweet smell will have gone and been replaced with a not unpleasant earthy, Mushroomy smell. So you see it all depends. I like to move the cheeses into the 4 Degree C fridge at this stage. Don’t wait too long or the outside will run away with you and ripen too quickly.
While in the 4 deg. C fridge I still wipe out the container and flip the cheese when there is evidence of condensation on the lid. Apparently, this a good indication that the GC and PC are still hard at work turning the middle into that prized gooeyness. This might be every day still for the next week or two but will decrease in frequency.
When is the cheese ready? That also is a ‘It depends’. Some people like the centre a little firm and some like the gooeyness all through the cheese. The cheese will ripen from the outside in to the centre, which is why the initial fuzzy covering needs to be treated carefully. If the outside is patchy and mold is not uniform, then the cheese won’t ripen uniformly, but hey this is Artisan cheese and it can be a little rustic. After about 4-5 weeks in the 4 Deg. C fridge you will notice the outside getting a little wrinkly and soft to touch. There should be no ammonia smell. What does that smell like ? Well, all I can say is when you smell it you’ll know you will know when it smells like old used and sweaty jock straps and socks. The cheese won’t get better from that and I’d try one but I would suggest that they are not very nice.
To wrap or Not !
I personally don’t wrap this cheese unless I am giving it to someone and then only to keep fingers off the cheese until it is ready to be eaten. I see the whole maturing process in the ripening containers (unless my lovely wife needs the fridge space). My preference is for a slightly firm centre and has the first 1 inch being soft, check it by pressing the top of the cheese checking from the outside in. With this recipe is about 8 weeks due to the amount of cream, but the last batch went all the way to 12 weeks – very oozy and very creamy and with a little bite but was still popular when shared with colleagues at work – So really - It all depends.
This works ... and it will be the most talked about cheese - ever