You may think that making hard cheese is more difficult than making soft cheese, but there’s not much difference when it comes both of them. When making soft cheese, you have to make curds, which can be quite difficult, as opposed to the few minutes of work you have to put in with hard cheese. It is just the long wait time which makes hard cheese making, a little challenging.
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When it comes to making hard, aged cheese from scratch, it takes some specialized equipment which you can purchase from special cheese- making suppliers.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
* Cheese Mold and Press- The two are quite expensive but it makes sense if you are going to be making hard cheese a lot.
* Cheese Salt- used to rub the cheese in prior to aging.
* Cheesecloth, butter muslin and a fat of your choice- used to wrap the cheese for aging.
* Waxed Paper
* Plastic Wrap
* Aluminum Foil
Pressing the curds into cheese
1. Line the mold with the damp cheese cloth.
2. Fill the cloth-lined mold to the top with cheese curds, pressing the curds down to fill all gaps. Fill mold to the top.
3. Cover the top of the curds with the extra cloth. Do this carefully to avoid any indents in the cheese.
4. Put the plastic or steel disc (that comes with the press) into the top of the mold and apply pressure for the time allocated by the specific recipe you are using. Whey will ooze out as you press, use a container to catch the liquid.
Now, it is important to follow the times the recipe advises, but if no times are provided, follow these times:
* Press for one hour at 5 pounds pressure.
* Flip the cheese, replace the mold, press for 8 to 12 hours at 20 pounds of pressure.
* Flip again, replace mold, press for 8 to 10 hours at 20 pounds of pressure.
5. Once pressing is done, remove the cheese from the mold and unwrap the cloth from around it and place it on a rack to cool off. Be sure it’s in a dark place away from drafts to air dry. Air dry according to the recipe.
Time to age your cheese!
An easy way to age cheese is by salt-rubbing. This means sprinkling salt over every inch of the cheese and rubbing it in. You then leave the cheese in a draft free, dark area for whatever time the recipe specifies.
Another way to age your cheese is to soak it in brine. This is used for cheeses with a short aging process. Brining makes bad bacteria grow on the outside of the cheese to age it further. It helps make the flavor a lot better and it develops the rind of the cheese.
* The type of brine depends on the cheese. The recipe will specify whether it is light, medium or fully saturated brine.
* Brine should be kept at 55 degrees if you want to reuse.
Whichever method you choose to age your cheese, you must remember where in your home you do this, is important. The place must be warm enough, dark, humid and completely clean. It can be as simple as a closet or in your basement. A long as the temperature is between 55 and 70 degrees, it will be a perfect place to age.
Do not get disheartened if your cheese doesn’t turn out perfect. It’s a process which takes time and patience and eventually, you’ll get a feel of what temperatures, places work best. Practice is the key to success in everything, especially Hard, Aged Cheese making.
Ever wonder why Europeans have a lower heart rate and are more physically fit than their cross-ocean neighbors, Americans? Even though it seems as though European diets consist of intake that is seemingly through the roof in saturated fats, they still yield some of the most physically fit populations on the planet. Researches formerly attributed this to lifestyle practices and their penchant to indulge in wines. However, recent studies have shown that, you guessed it, cheese may also contribute a vital roll in the everyday healthy lifestyles of most Europeans. How can this be when many cheeses are high in fat content? Well, to counteract the high fat content, the healthy benefit stems from the potentially high metabolic rejuvenation within the cheese.
For the purpose of the study, scientists compared bodily fluid samples from a group of people whose diets consisted of higher intakes of milk or cheese as well as a controlled diet of butter but no other dairy was a part of their diet. Findings showed that those whose diet consisted of cheese had higher levels of butyrate in their bodily fluids as compared to other groups of people. Butyrate is a short chain of fatty acids that are produced by bacteria in your stomach. In a similar light, the increase in butyrate levels resulted in lower cholesterol. This makes the very valid argument that cheese could be a included in a diet geared toward to healthier lifestyle.
While science has not truly revealed exactly how butyrates contribute to a healthier lifestyle, other studies have shown butyrates improves insulin sensitivity, energy levels, all while reducing stress levels. A study conducted in 2009 that was presented in the journal of Diabetes, linked butyrates to a markedly reduced risk of obesity.
As much as some cheese has its health benefits, other cheese do not exemplify or promote as much of a healthy lifestyle as others. Aged cheeses will be your best shot at improving your healthy lifestyle and tackle the weight loss mission. Such cheese include aged cheddar, Parmesan and Greyere… among others. Butyrate can originate from two sources, mainly. I can be produced from cheese itself or from bacteria produced in the stomach after the consumption of certain foods. An expert in this study noted that in both instances, aged cheeses tend to result in an increased amount of butyrate than fresh cheeses.
As studies have shown, it’s something we should be aware of as it meshes well with earlier research showing that cheese can have the benefits of reducing cholesterol compared to other dairy products with similar fat content. With that in mind, consider adding aged cheese to your diet as it may prove to be a healthy move!
You walk into your kitchen and notice that piece of cheese on the far end of your counter that you purchased weeks ago. Being entirely weary, you go over to this hunk of cheese and pick it up to examine it. You turn it over, analyzing every corner and then you take the great leap of faith to sniff it, and as you do, you’re nostrils take in this distinct and pronounced smell. Is the cheese still good and this smell is due to aging or is this just a smell of plain ol’ spoiled cheese?
A rule of thumb when purchasing cheese is to, essentially, not bite off more than you can chew, literally. When making a purchase, buy enough for a day or a week’s worth of consumption that will put you in a comfortable position. Worried about purchasing cheese from a store in fear that it might be spoiled or not entirely as fresh as possible? Not to worry. Buying cheese from a specialty foods store, such as Shisler’s Cheese House, will ensure the best cheese buying experience as their storage facilities are better conditions that what can be replicated in your own home. Where a cheese is kept weighs heavily on its quality.
Here are a few “best practices” for cheese storage and shelf life:
When smelling a cheese and it turns out carry a pungent aroma with it, that does not mean this will always be a case of it being spoiled (i.e., Limburger). Smell the cheese you want to purchase and decide if the aroma is bearable and simply aged or if it is not your “cup of tea”, or in this case not your “slice of cheese”.
Taste the cheese. If, by now, you haven’t decided whether the smell is desirable or off-putting, try a piece and see if the taste if what you’re looking for.
Fresh, soft cheeses as you would find in a grocery store, have a shorter shelf life than aged, harder textured cheeses. Fresh, younger types of cheese such as Ricotta, Mozzarella and Goat cheese generally have a shelf life lasting up to a week or week and a half, from the date of purchase. If you taste the cheese and its taste has hints of spoiled milk, well, I don’t think much more must be said.
Brie and Camembert tend to have a longer shelf life than fresh, young cheese as well, and other similar cheeses with a bloomy rind, yet still have an ample content of moisture to where it could still spoil. Overall, these types of cheese can last for weeks to perhaps a month and half, depending on the date of purchase. If the cheese rind on these types of cheeses appears to have a pink mold with a slimier coating, best to toss it. If an ammonia-type smell develops, this is not bad thing, as this is a byproduct of the aging process.
Cheese such as Taleggio, Limburger and Epoisses are best eaten straight after purchase. These cheeses carry an especially pungent aroma, so you could imagine the work they could do stored in the far ends of your refrigerator. The rinds on these cheese will dry out and crack over time which becomes a paradise for bacteria to live and thrive, a potential death sentence if consumed under these conditions. Best to eat these cheese as soon as they are purchased, but try not to let these cheese spend more than a week in your fridge if even that long before consumption.
Lightly aged goat cheeses such as Crottin, Chevrot and Chabichou du Poitou and other French-origin goat cheeses are virtually indestructible. Enough said…
Aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, Parmigiano Reggiano and Fontina have gone through a lengthy aging process that ensures their durability over the test of time. With such minimal moisture within these cheeses, there is nothing too much to be worried about with these cheeses. In many cases, the more aged these cheeses are, the better they taste.
As Blue Cheeses age, they become more intolerable to those not accustomed to this type of cheese. The moment you try a blue cheese, you will know whether or not the taste has become to overwhelming for your liking. While it will never put your health at stake, the age of a blue cheese may take a toll on your taste buds. The higher the moisture content in a blue cheese, the quicker it develops a more pungent taste. Wrapping these cheeses in foil will maintain their moisture content.