Using the recipe from 200 Easy Homemade Cheeses (with slight modifications), I attempted Fourme d’Ambert…my second blue cheese. I was looking to duplicate the taste and texture of some blues I had sampled over the past couple weeks. I had made what was supposed to be a Stilton-style blue last year, but I was not overly impressed with the taste…and it did not improve with time and aging.
Something was slightly amiss during the make of this cheese. I’m not entirely sure what it was.
Initial milk pH: 6.79
2 gallons Twin Brook 1% creamline milk
2 gallons Twin Brook whole creamline milk
1 quart Twin Brook whipping cream
8 cubes Aroma B (meso) mother culture
½ tsp CACL in ¼ cup distilled water
1/16 tsp Renco dry calf rennet in ¼ cup cool distilled water
Began heating milk in double boiler to 90 F. Added culture cubes to cold milk.
While waiting for cubes to melt so I could stir them in, I made a slurry of Regina Blu and distilled water.
When the cubes melted, I stirred them in.
After 15 minutes, I added the CACL and rennet. pH: 6.69
At 20 minutes, flocculation. Using 4x multiplier, I would cut the curd in 80 minutes.
When I cut the curd, the pH was 6.63.
Here’s where the story gets a little murky. I wanted to reach pH6.1-6.2 for whey-drain and get the curds in the mold somewhere around pH5.00. I waited and waited…and then waited some more. It was 3 hours later and the pH hadn’t moved below 6.61.
I decided to go ahead and drain and fill the mold(s). After I had filled the large mold I found that I had a few more curds that I had to put somewhere. I quickly prepared a small Bucheron mold and filled it. What an adventure that was!
I pressed under whey using first a 5lb weight for 30 minutes. I flipped, redressed, and pressed for another 30 minutes. Then I drained the whey, flipped, redressed, and pressed with 5lbs for another 30 minutes.
Some 4 hours later the pH had reluctantly moved to 6.55.
I removed the Plyban and began pressing in the pot with 10lb. The pH was now down to 6.48. I flipped, redressed, and continued pressing in the pot with 10lbs.
Two and a half hours later and the pH was at 6.31. I flipped, redressed, and pressed some more. Two hours later still the pH was 5.89 and I pressed some more. I had begun this make at 6:15AM and it was now 8:30PM.
At 11:30PM I checked the pH and saw 6.16. I decided to take it out of the press and start brining. I put the two cheeses in separate whey-brine containers. I got up to turn the Bucheron-type at 3:00AM (it would be brined for 6 hours total). Then I got up again at 6:00AM to remove the Bucheron to airdry in its minicave, and to flip the larger cheese in the brine (it would be brined for 12 hours).
At 12:00PM Saturday, I removed the large cheese to airdry in its minicave. I checked the pH: 5.03. There are some rind cracks from the Plyban, emphasized by brining.
This afternoon I pierced both cheeses and placed them in the caves. They both had a little residual moisture underneath which I dried. Hopefully this will not present a problem.
So there it is. A big question mark. Why did the pH react that way? Should I have just proceeded according to the recipe and discounted the pH readings? I feel I may have overcooked the curds. The temperature held pretty steady at 88-90F. I have used this mother culture recently and it worked well for me.
This cheese is injected during its affinage with Vouvray wine
. I probably cannot locate that wine but I would still like to inject it. Would a Moscato or something similar be a suitable substitute? Yes, I realize then that it wouldn't be a cheese true to the style. I'm probably far enough away from that at this point anyway.
At this point I am cautiously
curious how these cheeses will turn out. Ah, what a thrilling excursion into the unknown....
The last pic is my target.