First Aged Cheese, Part 1

I am sorry that I do not have pictures of the first part of the process, but I will give you the method I used here. Next cheese will have pictures of all parts of the process.

Well I started off by slowly warming 4 liters of whole milk (4% fat) to 30° Celsius (oh yeah, we're metric - only metric here - you guys with 12 fingers and toes must manage for yourself).

Then I removed it from the stove and added a sachet dried Mesophilic bacteria culture. I buy them in 5-pack each for four liters of milk - however I've been told that this culture will easily stretch to five liters of milk. I might use 4 1/2 liters next time (more on that later) and I will only use one sachet then too.
The bacteria culture was sprinkled on top and left to moisturize for a minute before I carefully blended it into the milk.

The recipe said to use some Calcium chloride, but I didn't have that, so i thought «Sodium chloride will do fine, I'm sure». Well it wasn't. I's there to help with the curding of the cheese. I have ordered for my next cheese, but this one doesn't have that, something that probably explains some of the problems I got later.

Then I added rennet and set the clock to 30 minutes.
I use vegan rennet, by the way the madame and kids ar vegetarian, so the one from a calf's stomach didn't go down too well with them

I got back there, and the milk was totally liquid still. It only had a few spots on the knife when I lifted it up. I needed help, so I called the place I bought the rennet from and asked «It's happened to me once too - just wait it out. Did you add Calcium chloride to the milk?». I told him about the normal salt I used in stead an that I thought it didn't matter much which I used. «Well, it does matter» he said, «You will have to wait a bit longer then and it will not curd as well as if you had used Calcium chloride jut before you added the culture»

OK, so I had to wait about 30 minutes more before the milk had curded. Even then the wey wasn't as clear as I'd hoped and it was not a 100% clean break (I'll show you that on my next cheese) but it was curded as well as could be expected, I guess.

I lined a siv with a kitchen towel and slowly added the curd and wey. I did not need the wey this time, so I let it go down the drain.

Now we're getting to the part when I remembered to take pictures (And as always (almost) with me, you can click the pictures to get it bigger and in it's own page).

I needed som saturated salt brine.

I made that by filling the bowl 3/4th to the top, and adding salt and stirring to see if it went totally clear, before I added more salt. I stopped adding salt when no more salt would dissolve and I had just a few salt corns on the bottom of the solution. Then I poured it into another bowl, leaving the salt corns in the bottom.

This would not be used before the next day, but I made it just to get it out of the way. Saturated salt brine will not rot!

After letting the curd run off the wey for about 40 - 50 minutes, I carefully added my curd to my makeshift cheese press.

In reality it's a rib roll press, but it's of about the right size and shape and I had one, so I just went with it. It presses well too, with it's two strong springs.

The cheese cloth I'm using is in reality a cloth for making lemonade from berries. It doesn't make the cheese look much better, but real cheese cloths have been ordered!



After wrapping it, I pressed the lid on and while I did that, quite a bit of wey came up and was poured in the sink.

I actually did that on the sink, because it was a little messy.

This press does not have holes in the bottom, so it can not get the wey out that way, I had to put it on it's side and hold it up with a knife, but then I made it work fine. I'll make a jig for that for my next cheese, I think.

Now I left it running off and pressing over night on the bench.

I have dried out the cheese for a day and a half.

It was firm and dry on the outside and I decided, without really knowing what I was doing, that now was the time to get it down in the basement and keep it between 9 - 12°C (some say 8 - 11, some say 9 -13, but 9 - 12 is the one I've seen the most.

I have found a guy that's giving away a small fridge that won't get colder than 7°C. That's perfect for me, and I will fetch it as soon as the guy calls to tell he's come home. He's out doing his Saturday shopping as I write this.

So the cheese is dry enough, and I need to pack it for aging. 

I've seen three methods to do this:

  1. Don't
    Most cheeses don't need packing for aging. It will then develope quite a hard, thick crust that will protect the cheese.
    I didn't want that, since the cheese is quite small, and I want to eat it all when it's done.
  2. Cheese wax
    Using wax you can get the cheese in an air free environment for the aging. I don't have wax, and since I will use method 3, I will not buy wax either.
  3. Vacuum pack the cheese
    That'll also give you the nice air free ebnvironment you need, and I do a bit Sous Vide, so I have to do some vacuuming anyway.

But I don't have a vackuum machine, ant that's where the zip-lock bag comes into the picture.

When I do the Sous vide, I use the zip-lock bags that I fill with the meat, close the zip almost all the way, then pushing it into water so only the little hole that's left is above water. Then I close it and I cet a close to air free bag to cook the meat in.

Here I didn't want that. I was afraid that I'd slip in some water while doing it, something that doesn't matter much when you sous vide, but I didn't want any moist in the bag, that wasn't made of the cheese.

So therfore - vacuum cleaner and the thinnest tip. Then I did the same as if I'd done with water. Let the air be sucked out then slowly remove the tip from the opening while closing the zip.

So here it is!

I've rolled the bag from the top and am keeping it shut with a key ring. It was what I had at hand.

It will be finished to tasting at the 5th May, and that's when I'll make «First Aged Cheese, Part 2»

I will get the fridge to it, and then have a more controlled environment, but for a first try, I don't think I've done too bad.

But of cause, we won't know that before the 5th, now, do we?

The name of the cheese? Nöst (short for NalleOst - Nalle is I, and Ost is Norwegian for cheese (my mother in law used «nost» as a kid as a nice name for poop, so I had to change the «o» to a «ö»)).


Anyway, have a cheesy day!