Blessed are the cheesemakers….

It’s been a little while since I attempted to make cheese as my yoghurt maker seems to be broken and so I haven’t been able to make the starter for the camembert. I haven’t replaced it as I am using this as justification to buy the new Russell Hobbs ice cream maker for myself this Christmas. Not only does it have a built in compressor, but it also has a yoghurt and ice making function! This makes it a need, not a want.

After borrowing a yoghurt maker, I decided it was time to revisit my cheesy passion (not really bad jokes but rather the best food known to man). That and it will take 6 weeks to mature and I have an international guest arriving in just over 6 weeks.

I decided to do both brie and camembert. For some reason brie is a little bit harder and it’s only been my last few attempts which have turned out perfectly. This is to do with the different level of fat in the milk and the different cutting of the curds (the bigger your initial cut the more whey will remain in the cheese and the softer and gooier your end result will be). Even though they are essentially the same process, the extra fat content can impact the bacterial process and the extra moisture makes controlling the different stages a little more difficult.

Making cheese is a bit of a balancing act in that you need to get the timing, temperatures and humidity levels right across all the stages to get it just right. More than once I’ve spent a day making the cheese, only to make a mistake with the humidity levels during the mould growth stage and have to throw it away. You never really know how good it will be until you cut into it weeks after it’s made so there is also an element of trust, and knowing when to make the right adjustments along the way.

As well as the different starters, I use different milk and add differing amounts of cream. For camembert I use Paul’s organic un homogonised milk and for brie I use Harris Farm‘s Just Jersey. Jersey cows produce a richer, creamier milk which is perfect for brie and the cheese itself ends up a little yellower because of this. I then add extra cream…. shhhh.

After a day measuring, timing and resting my little baby cheeses are now perfectly formed and sitting in their maturing containers growing a lovely coating of thick white fluffy mould. They only went into this stage yesterday so there are still another 6 or so nervous days of me checking to make sure the mould continues to grow in all of its beautiful white fluffy glory, and with no signs of yellow, red or blue!

Watch this space to see the next stage and the big reveal next month!

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The before shot
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Heating the milk to 32 degrees
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Adding the starter
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Adding the white mould spores
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Adding the rennet
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Cutting the curd
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Turning the curds
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Cooking the curds
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The cooked curd
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The hooped curds
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Inverting the hoops
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The brining cheeses

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