Author Topic: My first Romano and my first "big" cheese  (Read 837 times)

Offline margaretsmall

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My first Romano and my first "big" cheese
« on: March 01, 2012, 11:38:33 PM »
Ok you lot, stop laughing - I know some of you think 8l of milk is too small to bother with, but to me it's a big step forward - such a lot of milk! So bear with me.

Thought I'd make a cheese yesterday, and and stocktake of what was on hand revealed - 3/4 of a 6l blue; 1/3 of a 6l havarti and a whole saffron flavoured havarti, most bagged in the fridge; and an edam and a butterkaese,  bagged in the cave. Oh, forgot, 2 little chaources. More than enough for two people to eat in the short term, so maybe something to age for a while. So, here's how I made my first romano.

7:30am Heated 8l of Peel Valley Gold top (unhomogenized) full cream (4.4% fat) milk to 38oC.
8:00am Added 3/8 tspn. MOT092, left to hydrate 5 minutes, stirred it in and left for 10 minutes. [NB - had intended to use Cheeselinks Thermo C, but when I went to the freezer I found that I had been making 'yoghurt' with it for months and there was not that much left. Yes folks, thought it was the Yoghurt C. Makes nice yoghurt, I've been enjoying it. So had to make an instant decision and use the MOT092 despite the expiry date - Aug. 2011. And of course if I'de realized this I'd have cultured it yesterday just to check if it was still alive. If only I'd made 'yoghurt' overnight, could have used it for culture...Nowread on...]
8:15am Stirred in 1/8 tspn. lipase [Should have mentioned that I'm following the Morris recipe exactly except for this - she doesn't add lipase and everyone else does. Going with the majority]
8:18am Stirred in 1ml DS calf rennet [both lipase and rennet dissolved in water etc]
8:34am Flocculation - 16 minutes, a bit long?
8:51am Cut curds into small cubes. Pleased to see that they were firm - I have mostly used PH milk so usually have curds shatter in a most discoraging fashion - not this time.
8:56am Stirred gently.
9:01am Started to heat and stir. Took forever to get to 44oC - Morris says to take 15 minutes, this took 40min. Continued to stir for another 15 min.
10:00am Started draining in colander lined with a Chux rinsed in boiling water.
10:15am Into a 15cm mold and into the press. Pressed at 2kg.
11:15am Redressed and pressed at ? - 4kg plus Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander. Weighty tomes. Made saturated brine from whey. Also made 200gr ricotta from the whey.
2:30pm. Redressed again, continued pressing.
8:15pm Out of the press and mold and into the brine. Weight 1.175kg.
8:30am this morning Out of the brine and airing out. I keep admiring it. Picture below.

So, some issues upon which I 'd welcome advice -
1. The whey was very milky (which is why I bothered with the ricotta diversion). This happens to me with the PH milk, but I was expecting it to be much clearer with this milk. It was milky right from the start, as soon as it started separating from the whey, and I was careful to stir it gently. I wonder if the high fat content of the milk is an issue here - there was butter fat floating on the whey, you might be able to see it in one of the pictures. One of the other recipes suggests mixing full cream and skimmed milk for romano. Is this usual?

2. The flocc time seemed a bit long - the recipe says to cut after 15-20 minutes, for me it was 34min. Is this an indication that the culture is past it?

3. As you can see from the photo the size of the cut curd varies a lot. I did cut it as evenly as I could. Morris says to cut it into 1/2" squares then stir gently to break the curd into pieces the size of wheat grain. That certainly didn't happen. I cut the bigger pieces with my ladle whenever I saw them. Should I have whisked it to get it smaller? Will it matter (much)?

4. And, what to do with this thing of beauty now? Morris says to dry off for 1-2 days then wax (in my case vacuum). Another recipe says to keep at room temperature for 1-2 weeks to dry off completely and to allow a thin rind to develop. 
Margaret

Offline JeffHamm

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Re: My first Romano and my first "big" cheese
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2012, 12:18:38 AM »
Hi,

I've only made romano once, and that was almost a year ago.  The cheese is still in my cave, uncut, and I've not waxed or bagged it, though I did oil it a few times.  It's been mold free the whole time.  It was a 10 L make, so same ballpark as yours. 

Anyway, I wouldn't bag yours for a few months at the very least, and it would probably be best to age it for 6 months before vac sealing it.  I've left mine open just to see if it's necessary, or will it just be all rind?  It's for grating anyway, so I'm not too concerned if it's a bit on the dry side, and since it's not gone moldy, I'm quite pleased.  If you're planning on this for grating, then you want it to dry out really well, and vac sealing it is to retain the moisture.

To get the curds down to rice size, after cutting, take a whisk and plunge it to the bottom of the curd, then lift it out.  Just keep stabbing it down into the curd all over.  This will break it up nicely.  Just make sure your whisk it good and clean and you've sterilized the handle, etc. 

Your floc time is fine, a touch long but nothing major.  Your longer set time to cut is fine too.  We use floc times rather than the "book time" because the floc time lets us adjust to the current make.  I've found that the floc time can vary a few minutes even when using the same brand of milk and the same amount of rennet and starter, etc, so I doubt there's anything wrong with your starter.  All seems pretty normal, especially if this was your first 8 L make.  If your other makes were smaller, you may just be dealing with a difference due to the extra milk used.

Anyway, sounds like you've got a nice lot of cheese and this one appears to have turned out nicely.  The ridges in the rind might be a bit of a pain if mould developes, but you may get lucky like me and not have a problem.  Well done.

- Jeff
The wise do not always start out on the right path, but they do know when to change course.

Offline FRANCOIS

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Re: My first Romano and my first "big" cheese
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2012, 06:11:17 AM »
My two cents:
1. The whey was very milky.   Is this usual?

No.  It's because you used full fat milk. It will affect your final cheese greatly actually, not necessarily in a bad way but it won't be like an italian romano

2. The flocc time seemed a bit long - the recipe says to cut after 15-20 minutes, for me it was 34min. Is this an indication that the culture is past it?
Your floc time was fine.  You cut the curd at slightly more than 2x floc, I would have cut it at 1 or 1.2 for a romano.

3. As you can see from the photo the size of the cut curd varies a lot. I did cut it as evenly as I could. Morris says to cut it into 1/2" squares then stir gently to break the curd into pieces the size of wheat grain. That certainly didn't happen. I cut the bigger pieces with my ladle whenever I saw them. Should I have whisked it to get it smaller? Will it matter (much)?

Yes, it will matter.  There will be much more moisture in this cheese than a regular romano.  Depending on how you age the cheese it can create all sorts of internal issues with off flavours and texture.

4. And, what to do with this thing of beauty now? Morris says to dry off for 1-2 days then wax (in my case vacuum). Another recipe says to keep at room temperature for 1-2 weeks to dry off completely and to allow a thin rind to develop. 

You can do either one really, but in your case with the excess moisture trapped in the curd, I'd attempt to put a rind on it and allow it to dry some more.  Try scrubbing it with saturated brine every few days to get a tough skin on it.

Offline margaretsmall

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Re: My first Romano and my first "big" cheese
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 05:18:37 PM »
Thanks Jeff and Francois for your good and encouraging advice. I'll plan to age it and also to eat it a bit sooner that 12 months (can't imagine keeping it that long anyway) I'll think of it as a faux Romano, and will do another soon taking your suggestions into account.
Happy cheesemaking!
Margaret