Day 25: Reverse engineering cheese

Liberty Christmas Dinner: Cheese Board

Liberty Christmas Dinner: Cheese Board (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

At its essence, when it come to the art of making cheese all cheeses are the same. A counessour would scoff at that. But if you haven’t turned your nose up yet I’m using art in the greek sense as a “way of doing”. They are not created equally, and have different characteristics, but they are all essentially milk solids.

There are a myriad of types of cheese. The determining factors are

the milk source, the coagulant, and the bacteria cultures used if any are. Here the connesour would say that country of origin is also a factor. Which very well does effect the taste. The breed of the milk source (type of cow, goat, buffalo, or sheep) would make the flavor different. As would the animal’s diet. Is it organic? Did it eat feed or was it free range? If free range what did it eat and where? These are all necessary in the nitty gritty of cheese appreciation, but are secondary when looking at the art in itself.

Don’t get me wrong I love a good cave aged bleu with foie gras, or just the bleu, or with quince, or truffled honey. Or a ham and brie de meaux croissant, or just the brie, with wall nuts, or concord grapes.

castelmagno with truffle honey.JPG

castelmagno with truffle honey.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And i think they got ambrosia wrong, my ambrosia is that truffle honey that makes the epicurean in me say “i can die now” its as good as a particular chocolate cake claims to be. This truffle stuff is the source of legend. I could say membrillo, or Miel ala Truffe D’ete if that will make you trust me more.

The point is I’m not speaking as a cheese “taster” at the moment, but as a cheese maker, and always -always a cheese a lover. Writing this paragraph makes me salivate. But it doesn’t tell you how to make this beautiful ambrosia we speak of.

So this is going to be a little technical but i promise, its short.

English: 400lbs of Milk in cheese vat, undergo...

English: 400lbs of Milk in cheese vat, undergoing pasteurization. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All cheese was once upon a time milk. The milk sources are generally cow, buffalo, goat, or sheep . If you really want to push the envelope you can try a different animal, but i have only ever used cow’s milk due to availability. This milk is deliberately coagulated or curdled to seperate the fat from the protein.

Different coagulants are used (yoghurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, rennet etc.) They act as an acid in the milk and curdle it. Curdle doesnt necessarily mean spoilt in this sense though it can be looked at that way. Dairy processing always always ALWAYS has to be spick, span, and sanitary. Otherwise someone can get sick. So cheese, though curdled isnt “rotted milk that worked” although that my very well be how it was first discovered in the middle east. Ahem buttermilk ahem.

English: Placing chedder cheese curds into mol...

English: Placing chedder cheese curds into molds for pressing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh cheese goes by several names. What i like to call “fresh cheese” is also called fromage blanc, or farmer’s cheese. It is “fresh” since it has not been pressed. This differentiates it from “hard” cheeses that are usually seen in wheels or blocks. The types of it are varrieties differentiated based on the bacteria culture in them. I would go into detail, but this post feels like an encyclopedia entry enough. All cheese was once this “fresh cheese”.

The whey can be kept and used for other things! (smoothie additive, fluff up eggs, baking bread, etc). Which leads to my initial point. All cheeses are the same, since all cheese is milk fat.

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Curious about 30 days of creativity? Click here for my other 30 DoC 2012 posts.

P.s: i am super late on these posts, my internet life has gotten more active recently, and im well aware it is no longer june. But please, do try to enjoy the posts despite this hehe =o

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