Author Topic: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?  (Read 2847 times)

Offline John (CH)

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Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« on: February 02, 2009, 06:51:30 PM »
Piercing of blue cheeses seems to be normal to allow the Penicillium roqueforti and air to enter a cheese thus creating blue cheese's famous blue-green pate.

There are many different types of blue cheeses, many different recipes, and of course many of us with different opinions, experiences, and ideas. So questions on this subject are:
  • Tool(s) to pierce and why?
  • Where to pierce and why?
  • How to pierce and why?
  • When to pierce and why?

I pierced my Blue Cheese #1 vertically straight after pressing with a screwdriver as that was the understanding of the method back in the quieter old days of May-June 2008 in this forum, and ended up splitting it, not a good piercing tool :-\. My Blue Cheese #2 was too moist with no voids expected in the paste, so I don't think I pierced it at all.

Now we know better :)! From FXcuisine.com's article on Stilton you can see that the holes are very small diameter and close together, also, from this post's second picture you can see the holes are again very small diameter but interestingly staggered in depth. And from StiltonCheese.com Stilton's are pierced at 6 weeks, again at about 1"/2 cm spacing but strangely in both an upwards and downwards angle, not horizontal.

My Blue Cheese #3 - Stilton Style is currently aging and I'd like your advice. I'm thinking of piercing around the perimeter to a range of ~3/4 to full radius with some sort of vary small tool at about 1"/2 cm spacings. But I've no idea what tool, and there seems to be competing times when to pierce.

Appreciate your thoughts and advice and why . . .


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2009, 08:18:56 PM »
John...
I'm also anxious to hear everyone's advice on this subject.
With each new Stilton that I make I seem to be getting better at piercing but I still always seem to end up cracking the cheese, at least very slightly.

On my last attempt I used a stainless steel thermometer probe for the piercing and although it worked relatively well, it wasn't perfect.
It does leave nice clean, very open holes so that air can enter into the interior of the cheese but since I put too many holes into the cheese, I did get a small crack in the surface.

I've been piercing at 1/2" spacings so this is probably my problem. Next time I'll try your idea of 1" spacing which will probably stop the problem of cracking.

One thing I have found that works is to dip the probe into hot water before each piercing and also to rotate the probe while withdrawing it. I think it was Carter that suggested this and it does work extremely well.

I pierce at 4 - 5 weeks since this is what my recipe calls for.
Carter on the other hand pierces at 6 weeks since this is what his recipe calls for. I've also read that piercing can be done anytime after the rind forms on the cheese so there really doesn't seem to be an exact, set time to perform this part of the make.

I'm of the mind that a typical "home" Stilton can be eaten much earlier than normal.
My first Stilton was tasted at only 4 weeks old and it was wonderful.
The reason it was tasted this young was because I cracked it BADLY when piercing and also pierced completely through the cheese (both top to bottom and side to side). This caused the cheese to begin to sag in the center and it was literally about to buckle under the weight of the wheel.
I've since found that a Stilton should be pierced from the side at a slight downward angle.
Also, the cheese should only be pierced to the center of the cheese and not completely through.
Since I've been doing this I no longer have the problem of obliterating the center of my wheel and they have held their shape very well.
I do still put a few holes on the top and the bottom of the wheel but I make sure I stay far away from the sides of the cheese.
My worst cracks always came from piercing the top (or bottom) of the cheese, too close to the edge.

My current Stiltons are 8 weeks old, 6 weeks old and 3 days old.
I plan on cracking the 8 week old this weekend and will post some pics of the interior veining and a review of the taste.
I really think that this is going to be a nice wheel of cheese since every part of the process has gone according to plan (yeah, that's a first for me).

As always, I'm not an expert but instead a pupil of the craft. Hope this information helps.

Dave

Offline Tea

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2009, 02:50:21 PM »
My book also says not to use something with a sharp point, as the holes tend to want to close up, but to used a blunt instument.  HTH

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 12:25:19 PM »
Tea,
Thanks for that information. That is something that I wasn't aware of.

Offline FineWino

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 10:21:00 PM »
Greetings, all.
 
Sorry my participation has been so intermittent here.  Life has been very busy and we are getting ready for our winter holiday.  I am thinking about all the cheeses I will make when I return.
 
I saw this topic, and thought that I would mention after trying a number of different tools for piercing my stiltons, I have found that a quality stainless steel bicycle spoke works very well.  It is blunt on the end, easy to sterilize, and plenty stiff.
Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.  -John Kenneth Galbraith


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Offline chilipepper

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2009, 10:17:20 AM »
Tom, I hope you enjoy your winter break and thanks for the information.  What diameter spoke are you using? I've seen skinny ones, fat ones and some other odd shapes out there.  Thanks!

Offline Likesspace

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2009, 11:43:27 AM »
Tom,
I would really be interested in this as well. Heck of a good idea but like Chili said, there are a lot of different sizes.
Thanks in advance.

Dave

Offline FineWino

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2009, 11:54:01 AM »
Well, I'm glad I checked in one more time before we take off.  I had a lot of spokes in my tool box (I used to do a lot more work on my bicycles than I do now) and luckily I still had one of the packages.
 
They are 15 gauge, which is approximately 1.8mm in diameter.  They seem to work well and you can get them long enough for any reasonable cheese.  You should be able to find them at a shop that does bicycle repairs.
 
I sterilize mine by passing it through the flame on my gas stove, give a quick rinse under the faucet so I don't scorch the cheese, and then poke away.
 
We are going to a conference in SF for a couple of days and then will fly to Kauai on Sunday.  Aloha 'til then! ;D
Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.  -John Kenneth Galbraith

Offline chilipepper

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2009, 12:02:07 PM »
Thanks for the info Tom and have a great trip!  I'm very jealous! :)

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2009, 03:05:31 AM »
OK, my text book on cheese making says 1/8". Dip in water, blunt, twist on the return.

For stilton downward angle only on the sides and only half way through. Anywhere from 4-6 weeks as Dave said you want a rind to form and stiffen up so it doesn't crack.

For Blues through the entire cheese from top to bottom not on the sides.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.


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Offline Likesspace

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Re: Blue Cheese Piercing: Tool(s), Where, How, & When?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2009, 09:02:33 PM »
Tom,
Thanks for the information. Guess I'll have to go looking for a s.s. bicycle spoke. That sounds like exactly what I need for my 4" wheels.

Carter,
I'd say that with the size of wheels you are making you will definately need something larger than the spoke method.
As I posted earlier I have used an old thermometer probe that does leave very close to an 1/8" hole in the cheese. It's just too big for my small wheels, since I always seem to get cracks from using it.

Dave