Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Waxing the Cheddar

Last night Zach and I attempted out first wheel of goat's milk Parmesan. It's still pressing in the cheese press, and in two more hours I will make a salt brine and begin to brine the wheel. I'm particularly excited about this cheese. Parmesan is one of my favorite cheeses, and one of the most expensive to purchase. A good Parmesan Reggiano can run $17.00 a pound or more. And while I only use this type of cheese for special occasions, I wouldn't mind a homemade version available more often. The Parmesan has to age for 10 months or more. It will be a test of patience, but an act of love. Parmesan needs to be cared for throughout the aging process. It must be turned daily and then weekly, wiped of any mold buildup, and kept at the precise temperature and humidity in our cheese cave.

Our cheese cave is small refrigerator that our friend gave us to keep our extra eggs in. The eggs have since been replaced by 4 wheels of cheese, three wheels of cheddar and tomorrow, the Parmesan. Each of the wheels of cheddar have been made with different strengths of lipase, an enzyme that makes cheese taste "cheesy". We are experimenting to see which flavor we prefer. It's difficult to predict the flavors we will be tasting because a lot of the recipes we're using are meant for cows milk, so we have to factor in the "goaty" flavor which will come out with age. Zach and I like really strong cheese. Our favorite store bought cheese is an extra sharp, 12 year old cheddar made in Pinconning, Michigan. It is strong enough to curl your hair but oh so delicious! We know that our cheddar won't bite like the 12 year old sharp, but we're going for potency.

Because we have different types and flavors of cheese all aging in the same cave, we thought it would be a good idea to wax the cheese that is able to be waxed to prevent some of the flavors from transitioning to other wheels. Not all cheese can be waxed, Parmesan for example, creates its own rind over time so waxing isn't an option.

For the cheese wax, we had the choice of black, red or a mustard yellow. Zach and I both decided that "red" for some reason looked the most traditional.

We melted out cheese brick in a small crock pot that is now designated for cheese wax. We also purchased a natural hog bristle pastry brush to paint on the melted wax.

We did two light coatings, and let them dry. Then we tied a label on each wheel with the date, type of cheese, and the lipase information.

I love how the cheeses are stacking up in our little cave. Cheese is one of my favorite foods and we eat a lot of it. I am so excited that in a few months time we should have a constant supply coming from our farm. Cheese making is time consuming, but sort of addicting. If we're this enthusiastic and we haven't even tasted our first wheel, I can't imagine how we'll be once we get to enjoy the benefits of our labors. Hopefully, it's delicious and not a moldy, sour debacle! Only time will tell.  

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1 comment:

Danielle Thompson said...

We love Pinconning cheese and even named our dog after Wilson's Cheese Shoppe there! Enjoy the taste testing...eventually!
-Danielle

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