Cheesemaking: How To Make Caciotta

Recipe

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What You Need

2 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
2/3 Packet of C201Thermophilic Culture (1/2 packet if using raw milk)*
1/2 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
Salt Brine
Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)

What To Do

1. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 98F 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. The higher temperature will be more in line with a happy temperature for the Thermophilic bacteria.

You can add the culture once the temperature is at 98F. The lower culture amount is in character with the slightly less acid final cheese.

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 a further hour so that the culture can get to work.

2. You can now add about 2.5ml or 1/2 tsp of single strength liquid rennet. The rennet needs to be added and mixed for one minute but not enough that the milk is agitated.

The milk needs to sit for around 20 minutes so that the culture can get to work and the rennet can begin to coagulate the curd. The milk will begin to thicken after around 8 minutes but be sure to allow the full time for coagulation and check for a nice clean break before cutting.

You should utilize coagulation time by preparing the molds, cloth and draining area by sanitizing them all.

3. You need to cut the curd as soon as it has firmed well.

To cut the curd, you must cut it into walnut size pieces to maintain a higher moisture in the final cheese. It is very important to be gentle in the cut and stir it so you don’t break the curd further. Cut the curd vertically in both directions and then wait 5 minutes before the horizontal cutting. When stirring, it should be slow and gentle but just enough to keep the curds moving and separated for releasing the initial whey.

Stir the curd for another 10 minutes. Check the curds for excess moisture. You can raise the temperature to 102F if needed for the next 15 minutes of stirring. If you don’t need it, simply maintain the 98F temperature for the entire time.

The total stir time is 25 minutes.

To determine the final moisture, it will be a rather subjective decision and will depend on the milk quality, cook temperature and rate/time of stirring.

4. After removing around 40% of the whey, the curd will begin to show, this is when you can begin molding. Give the curds a nice gentle hand stir to discourage the matting in the vat.

Transfer the curd to the mold and pack it in lightly. The mold will need to be packed well above the top surface and you will have to wait as the whey drains to add more to get all of the curd into the mold.

5A. When you have fully transferred all the curd into the drain cloth and mold, the cloth can be neatly folded over the top. You should then flip the basket every 15 minutes and on the 2nd turn, it should be turned in the cloth and returned to the basket.

If the cheese is left at room temperature, you will need to warm it up otherwise it will begin to chill and bacteria cultures will slow and even stop and the fermentation of the curd will not be completed which will result in problems for the final cheese.

When the forms with the cheese are ready, place them on the draining rack and add enough hot water to maintain the temperature. 120F water tends to cool quickly to 100F and maintain this temperature.

Now cover the pot and hold the cheese here for at least 1 hour to 1.5 hours while the cheese finishes its lactose conversion to lactic acid. Check the cheese at 20-30 minute intervals to assure the temperature is correct and also turn the cheese in its form at the same time.

This will complete the lactose conversion and thus keep the cheese from any late acid development which will lead to a sour and crumbly cheese defect.

5B. Be sure to continue to turn the cheese in the basket form every 30 minutes while it is in the warm chamber. The cheese will be less sweet, the longer it stays warm.

After around 1 hour, remove the cloth and at around 1.5 hours, move the cheese to a room temperature draining area to let them gradually cool.

You can leave the cheese at room temperature until the evening which it should then be moved to a cool environment of 55-60F to prepare for the salt brine.

The cheese should be consolidated with a nice tight surface with an imprint of the basket molds.

There is no need for any pressing or press weight because of the high moisture and heating which had been done.

6. By the next morning, the cheese will be ready to brine.

You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting the cheese:

A simple brine formula is:

– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1tbs. calcium chloride
– 1 tsp. white vinegar
– Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.

You should now set the cheese in the brine for around 2 hours.

The cheese will float above the surface so please be sure to sprinkle a small amount of salt on top of the cheese surface. Flip the cheese halfway through the brine period and sprinkle some salt on the other surface too.

7. Wipe down the surface at the end of the brine period and place the cheese in the aging space at around 52-55F and 85-90% moisture. The high moisture is needed for good mold growth. The cheese needs to be turned and wiped daily. The wipe will be with a cloth which is dampened with a 6-8% strength brine to remove the mold, then air briefly before returning to the aging space.

The cheese will soften after about a week to 10 days as the high moisture encourages the enzymes to work on the protein structure.

At around 2 weeks to 2 months, the cheese will be ready to eat.

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