Thanks for all the great tips and stories posted here,
I've had a couple of attempts at making camembert, and seem to be experiencing different problems to everyone else, so I thought I'd see if anyone out there has some advice!
Essentially, I end up with cheese that is very firm inside rather than soft and gooey. I'm really curious, as my cheese looks rather like everyone elses' at all the stages, right up to having a runny middle.
except: i have never had a problem with curds sticking to my cheese mats, and i have never had a whiff of ammonia.
<this post ended up very long, there are three specific questions at the end if you want to skip the details>
The recipe I am using is basically the same as the one in the recipe section on this site - can provide precise details if anyone is interested
- i started with 5L milk, good set and curd cut, and got about 20% yield in two cheeses (weight/volume)
- i had excellent mould growth at 12oC, high humidity environment (colonies at 4 days, full coverage at 7 days). i don't think i could increase the humidity here, there were moisture droplets forming on the ceiling of my cheese fridge!
- after full mould growth i wrapped in baking paper (pierced) and then in foil, and cheese is now aging in the top of my regular fridge, which measures between 4-6oC.
It has been about 2.5 weeks now, and the cheeses still feel very hard. maybe i have nothing to worry about, and interior softening will take at least 6 weeks as finewino suggests.
i notice that patches of the mould are looking a bit grey - which i think is a good sign, as i read that indicates sporulation (which should mean release of proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes to ripen the cheese)
BUT i am worried, because the edge of my cheese (especially the smaller one) is looking shrivelled, and it is developing a rather hard edge. i read somewhere that this is an indication the cheese lost too much moisture too quickly. Given my first attempt, and other folks experience reported on this forum, I'm worried I have lost too much moisture.
i have certainly lost some moisture, because the inner layer of my wrap (baking paper) is damp, and my two cheeses have lost 25% and 32% of their original weight.
??Has anyone else ever noted how much weight they lose during ripening??
So I'm presuming insufficient moisture is my problem at the moment, but I guess it could be lack of activity of the bacteria or mould that does the job of ripening.
I googled cow's milk composition - 12-14%, let's say 13%, solids.
so, if you got 130g cheese from 1L milk (13% w/v), that would be _all_ solids, ie no moisture. (?)
my 2 cheeses make up 13.7% of the 5L milk i started with, suggesting they have little or no moisture left. ?
I read that moisture content should decrease during ripening - from about 60% to 50% (those figures from the article i posted previously). I don't seem to have anything like 50% moisture content!
(unfortunately, i can't think of any way to measure moisture content, short of drying out 1/2 a cheese completely and weighing the two halves to get the difference! i might sacrifice a cheese to that experiment if my ripening doesn't improve.)
My first attempt at camembert progressed in a very similar manner to this one (except i left longer at 12oC before wrapping, which could have been the problem)
I ate the two cheeses from that batch at 4 and 6 weeks, and it continued to dry out rather than soften. They tasted good, like camembert in fact, but had a very firm texture like very unripe camembert (and the last one dried out so much after cutting that i threw a fair bit of it away).
Apologies for the supremely long post, a couple of specific questions might help!
1. anyone else know the % weight/volume they end up with when making camembert?
2. do your camemberts start out hard and go soft over time - i seem to remember reading posts from people who had soft cheese that firmed up!
3. would it help to put my cheese in a plastic bag or in a more humid environment during the 4oC aging stage?
4. do i just have to wait longer?!
Any thoughts or advice gratefully received,
Cheers, and thanks if you made it this far!