It is not recommended to make this cheese unless you have made a few other kinds of cheese in the past for experience. The cheese needs to be around 4-5 lbs to develop a good blue.
However, if you are wanting a smaller version, you can change the scale down from 5 gallons to 2 gallons:
2 gallons of milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
1/16tsp MM100, 1/32tsp TA061, 1/16tsp P.roqueforti culture
Liquid Rennet (1/8tsp)
Colander and butter muslin to drain the curds
Small Cheese Mold (the curd may initially mound over the top but will settle with the lightweight suggested here)
For a 2 gallon recipe, I suggest a 4-5 lb. weight, only enough to settle the curds, not enough to consolidate them. For a 5 gallon batch, no weight is needed.
Salt non-iodized medium grain
What You Need
5 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
1/8tsp Penicillium Roqueforti
2 ml (just under 1/2 tsp) Liquid Rennet
Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)
What To Do
1. The P.roqueforti needs to be rehydrated in 1/8 cup of boiled and cooled water before heating the milk.
The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 90F. To do this, place the milk in a container and then place it in a large pot of very warm water. If you heat it on the stove, be sure to heat it slowly and stir it as it heats if you heat it on the stove.
Once you are done heating the milk, all the cultures can be added, including the rehydrated mold. The powder can become very cakey and sink in clumps so to prevent this, sprinkle the culture over the surface of the milk and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the powder to re-hydrate before you stir it in. After stirring, let the milk sit for 60 minutes before adding the rennet.
2. Now, add 2ml of single strength liquid rennet.
Let the milk sit for 90 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. The milk will begin to thicken in around 20 minutes but you need to wait the full 90 minutes until you see a good curd.
The thermal mass of the milk will keep it warm during the 30 minutes but it is fine if the temperature drops a few degrees during this time.
The coagulation is much longer than most cheeses because the extra time will allow for more moisture to be bound into the curd structure. This is what makes the cheese so creamy.
While the coagulation is taking place a draining area should be sanitized and prepared.
– For a small 2 lb. curd mass, this can be as simple as a large colander lined with cloth.
– For the larger cheese, I am making in the photos here, I use a large tray set at an angle to drain well and lined with draining cloth.
3. The next step is to separate the curds but retains as much moisture in the curds as we can while forming a good surface that will stop the curds from consolidating too much on molding. This will result in a lot of small openings between the curds for the blue mold to work its magic.
You initially cut the curd surface into large cubes to retain the final moisture of the cheese:
– Cut to 1/2-3/4″ then rest 5 min, the larger size will retain more moisture and provide larger openings internally for the finished cheese
– Stir intermittently over 20 mins, stirring just enough to firm the curd surface and keep the curds from consolidating
– Drain 20% of whey and then stir gently 10-15 min
– Repeat the 20% whey removal and gently stir for 10-15 min.
The stirring in step #2 is to keep the curds separate but not dry them out too much. Step #3 and #4 of whey draining and stirring are to firm the curd surfaces while maintaining the internal moisture. This is ‘Grain’ development which is very important for this cheese and can be one of the most challenging parts of this recipe.
The final curds should be plump and springy and you should examine them to make sure that the curds have a light skin on the surface and remain heavy when held in your hand. They should also not slump together excessively or be too firm throughout.
Once you have reached this point with the curds, don’t allow them to settle under the whey, but transfer them to a draining cloth.
4. When the curds have been transferred to the draining area, don’t allow the curds to the mat and consolidate after the final whey removal. Give them a gentle stir before transferring to avoid consolidating.
Allow the curds to drain for 10-20 minutes and stir gently while making sure that the whey drains well and the curds remain separated.
Small openings will be formed in the cheese body which are essential for the blue mold to develop and do its magic while aging, this is because the blue requires aerobic environment. Enzymes will be produced as it grows which will allow the proteins and fat to form, leaving the texture soft.
5a. The curd can now be moved to the molds. Initially, it will have a very open texture but the cheese will retain a good supply of lactose and as the bacteria continue to convert this lactic acid, the curds will shrink, release whey and begin to consolidate somewhat. The openings should be left throughout the cheese body.
There is no weight required on the large-scale cheese because the cheese weight will be enough to form a tight surface. You need to turn the cheese as soon as the curd begins to consolidate a bit (15-20 minutes) and then flip it every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours as the acid continues to develop. Be sure to keep the cheese at room temperature during this time.
To make sure that there is an even consolidation and whey drainage, turning is important. At each turn, you will notice that the cheese has formed smoother surface and rests lower in the mold.
5b. The cheese should be kept at room temperature until evening to allow the final acid to develop. Whey will continue to weep during this time.
Then move it to a cooler space for it to rest overnight. (Make sure the aging space is at 52-54F).
6. This blue cheese needs to be salted over a period of 4-5 days with dry salt. It will receive less salt than most of the other blue cheese which results in a slightly milder flavor in the finished cheese.
Weigh out 2.5% of the cheese weight in salt. The final weight of this recipe should approximately be 6.5lbs, therefore the salt required is 2.4oz by weight.
Salt by applying 30% of the salt to the top surface and spread it evenly to the edges and then rub as much as you can into the sides. The sides will get less salt but they will also get treated twice as much. Allow 8 hrs to form its own brine and be absorbed by the cheese. You can then let the cheese rest overnight and turn it the next morning and treat the other side the same as on the first day. On the third day, the remaining salt is split between the two surfaces and the surface will have become hardened by the salt extracting moisture at the surface.
The dry salt will form a brine and be absorbed by the cheese.
For the next week, the surface will soften as the salt penetrates the cheese and interior moisture migrates to the surface.
Be sure to turn the cheese daily and maintain a high moisture of 90-95% and temperature of 46-54F. During this period, the proteins will begin to transform.
7. In around 1 week, the initial protein changed of the cheese will be well underway meaning that it is time to punch holes to aerate the cheese for mold growth. There should be many small openings internally from the care preserving curd structure through the draining process. If there are not any openings, you will only see blue developing in the holes you punch. You can use a skewer to make these holes about 1 inch apart on both the top and bottom surface and extending about 2/3 the way into the cheese.
Once you have made the holes, you will need to turn the cheese daily to even out the air flow. You should see signs of blue mold growing internally and a bit on the surface after around 3 weeks.
If the surface remains too moist, you will see a rose to orange colored surface developing and if less moisture, a slight white drier surface mold will develop.
In a good aging space that is well controlled, the cheese can be stored on their edges for better air flow. You can turn them about a quarter turn every day.
The cheese will be ready in about 60-75 days depending on how you define ready.
It will take a lot of patience to get this cheese right but it will definitely be worth it.