Author Topic: Valençay style cheese and a few questions  (Read 5353 times)

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2012, 07:34:19 PM »
Thank you for the pointers. When you say to drain them more, do you mean leave them longer in the molds, leave them longer out of the molds, or pre-drain before molding? These are the three ways I can think of to drain them more. The first batch did not flatten out after being in the molds but rather drained down to the height they ended up at by the first day in the molds. So far this new batch is holding their shape well.
I mean pre-drain and leave in the mould longer. It's always surprising how much more you can drain semi-lactic/lactic curd.

Ideally your target is to mould the curd to the capacity of your mould, so when it's time to un-mould it, it looks like the shape of your mould and keep shape. Otherwise, If you are going to lose 35%-50% of your volume as whey drains, you will unmould it only to find a smaller, shorter cheese which will be still wet and squishy. With pre-draining you will get a stiff, dry and stable cheese.

A side effect of overly-wet cheese is premature rind growth which can give you ammonia and slip skin defects.  You may have one less cheese per gallon following my advice, but the cheeses will have better volume and quality.

How old is the cheese in your new photo?


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Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2012, 09:10:51 PM »
My cheese in the latest photo was started on 1/19, put into the cave on 1/23, and wrapped and put into fridge on 1/31(early I know, but it was prematurely ripening). My target for cave affinage was 2/6. I used less aggressive molds this go and plan to clean out my "cave" prior to putting them in as to avoid cross contamination.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2012, 11:08:22 PM »
How long have you been making cheese? Have you been making other artisan or cultured foods (or beer/wine) before? You seem to have a real knack for this. Very vigilant! Your fast initial aging may have to do with draining it for so long at room temperature (if that was indeed the case). Draying/draining for 4 days is great but to too warm and it's an invitation for early yeast and geo growth -especially in the open air when the cheese is stilll so moist.  I would avoid wrapping them altogether. Put them on straw or a grille in a partially open box. Tap/rub them daily to keep the rind thin and tight. That's it. The french do Valençay the same way  :)

Really smart to use the less agressive VS. I wouldn't worry about contamination of a secondary PC strain. They are compatible with one another and by the time you put it in the cave you already have surface flora growth that far outweighs whatever PC it will capture from a neighboring cheese. This isn't baking yeast that's going to destroy your cheese. In any event, you can already expect to see PC-VS blooming on day 4 or 5, (7 tops, if it's really cold or the cheese/cave moisture is low)

What's your background in cheese?

Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2012, 11:12:22 AM »
I am pretty new to making cheese (not so new to eating it though). The Valençay was my first attempt at mold ripened cheese. I am hoping with more experience to eventually produce and sell farmstead goat milk cheeses. Thanks to its recent legalization in my state I am lucky to have access to wonderful raw milk. I pasteurize it but will soon experiment with leaving it raw. The amount of culture etc. will have to be adjusted for this.

Offline PeabodyCreamery

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2012, 10:10:20 PM »
If I can give you some pointers...

Secondly, I would drain them more. A good sign with Valençay that you haven't drained them enough is that the pyramids are short and wide.  Proper draining will render them narrow - they will be stiff enough not to collapse to a lower pyramid once you turn them onto the draining mat. Excess moisture would cause the rind to grow too fast and it would go lumpy or ammonia on you prematurely.


How long do you recommend pre-draining the curd before transferring to the molds?  I've just created my first (started 1/27!) Valencay and needless to say mine has not turned out quite as well.  I think one of my issues is/was the curd was far too wet.  I'm also assuming that you just gently transfer the curd to a cloth lined colander?
Unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of access to fresh milk but purchase mine from the grocery store (seems fine so far) but my curd definitely didn't look as "set" as HB's. It had a nice top 1/3 but below that it was still pretty full of whey and not nearly as firm, does that mean I need to let it sit longer?

Fabulous job HB, I'm envious.


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Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2012, 11:08:55 AM »
Iratherfly will have to answer about the pre-draining. It is my understanding that it is a bit more difficult to get a good set on store bought milk, but I have not used it and so cannot compare firsthand. How long did you wait before ladling? I am going to try pre-draining next time overnight. Do you have any pictures?

Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2012, 11:13:24 AM »
Ok, I have two more progress pictures of my second batch. The first is day 1 in the cave and the second is day 5. I notice less geo growth than last time and slower growth of the pc.

Offline Missy Greene

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2012, 07:09:39 PM »
I just did a Humbolt Fog, started on the 6th, and found that even with pre-draining for 24 hrs it was still very wet. I was following  combination recipes from Brie and....the Russian  fellow,  it was still VERY wet when I  put it in the moulds, then continued to drain for 2 days+  salting the tops when I flipped them. Seems like it took forever before they would hold their shape...Is this normal????  Finally dry enough to  salt/ ash left at room temp til looked drier, they were already getting a little fuzzy growth..finally into box in cold room.... they are looking OK now.....
 Thanks for any insight, Missy


Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2012, 06:41:08 PM »
Would you mind posting more details from your recipe? What kind of milk are you using? What amount and kind of rennet? What amount and kind of starter culture? What temperature did you drain at? Any of these factors could influence the curd texture. I do find that my cheeses are still a bit wet and slightly delicate when I unmould them after two days. Because of their shape I do not flip them.

Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2012, 05:06:38 PM »
It has been very interesting to observe the different behavior of the molds I used this go around. The PC bloomed in a similar time length, but is so much less aggressive. It does not grow high like the VS and needs much less attention. I also notice much less of the wrinkled effect of the Geo and the cheeses are much more firm. I am looking to age these until at least 2/22 (maybe sooner for the Selles-Sur Cher). Yesterday was day 9 in the cave and they are looking good.


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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2012, 02:24:15 AM »
Iratherfly will have to answer about the pre-draining. It is my understanding that it is a bit more difficult to get a good set on store bought milk, but I have not used it and so cannot compare firsthand. How long did you wait before ladling? I am going to try pre-draining next time overnight. Do you have any pictures?
Sorry for another late reply here. If you purchased goat's milk in the store, it should be gently pasteurized (such as the expensive but good selections at Whole Foods, which are also organic and local, grass-fed in season).  The problem is that most grocery stores carry national brands such as Meyenberg which is rather crappy. It's not clear where the milk comes from and what these goats eat or how they are treated. It is ultra pasteurized which sterilizes is completely from any naturally present lactic bacteria to make it last for weeks. These stores sell them in low volume, mainly for people who are lactose intolerant or for the occasional cook who wants to make goat pennacotta or something like that... This is simply not good enough for cheesemaking. HOWEVER, if you want to use it for cheesemaking, start by adding Calcium Chloride to stabilize it. Then add a generous amount of culture. (I would use a culture blend that can mimic the natural flavors of milk like MA4001 or Flora Danica. Remember that you need to build the bacteria from scratch here). Wait 6-12 hours before adding the rennet. then let it coagulate in a 70°F environment as long as it takes UNDISTURBED. Up to 48 hours if needed.

How do you know when?
The milk should smell sour. Not rancid, but like yogurt. A ½" inch layer of whey floats on the top (use your clean finger to uncover it. Sometime a white mass floats to the surface of the whey and you think it is milk or curd but when you put your finger on the surface it clears to the side and you see that it is clear whey actually). Typically, the entire pot should be one curd mass. the curd should pull from the sides of the pot and it may display some cracks on top.  This is the 4.5-4.7pH point that you want to drain it at. This curd still may be softer than regular milk curd and you will lose some yield. That's okay. (The ultra pasteurization may modify the structure or proteins and fat lipids so that's a part of it.) However, in these lactic / semi-lactic cheeses you can still make a good cheese out of it (unlike attempting a Camembert or Gouda with it).

Pre Drain
I pre drain in a reuseable synthetic cheesecloth bag (better than colander and finer too). You want something very fine so that whey can take its time draining and doesn't stream out with all the minerals and solids too quickly. When the draining is slow, the whey and lactic acid continue to work on the cheese. Room temperature draining may begin to wake up the yeasts and fungi you are using for rind. I drain 6-12 hours, depends on what I want to do. If this is going to a mould with lots of holes and surface area I may drain only 2-4 hours.
This practice is good for French Loire Valley cheeses where the moulds only have a few weeping holes and are nearly at the size of the final cheese (so you need to fill them with curd amount that is not going to drain much further, otherwise you will get tiny cheese).

Caprino method
An alternative method is the Italian one: Use high flow Caprino molds (I have hundreds in stock here by the way if anyone want). Ladle gently directly into these moulds. They are fine enough to capture the curd but have such high drain hole volume that they quickly drain the whey and compress the cheese to its final size. These moulds are usually tall and you ladle all the way up. the next morning they are ¼ full with nice solid cheese. It's less fussy (like anything Italian cuisine Vs. French...) but this cheese has a slightly different character.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2012, 02:45:37 AM »
OOh, Missy why didn't you write me on Facebook? I would have responded sooner. Did you pre-drain? What sort of mould did you use?

Here's my current star... While I mainly do original cheeses, this French tradition is just fun to make. Aged 17 days. My new cave rocks. Not crazy tangy and very mushroomy. I am shocked because this is winter goat's milk.

Meet Rouelle:

Offline anutcanfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2012, 11:06:09 AM »
Awesome! What a fun looking cheese! 
Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2012, 12:48:07 PM »
Thank you! ::) it is!

Offline HB

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Re: Valençay style cheese and a few questions
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2012, 01:27:49 PM »
Opened the first ones today. They made it to two weeks better than the last batch. The taste was pretty similar. They taste younger than the last ones did at this point, which is what I was aiming for. Looking forward to seeing how these ones age. I think at least another week to be really good. Have to remember to go even easier on the ash.