Tuesday, February 14, 2012


From the Loire Valley of France comes this  romantic little ash coated cheese. A mold ripened classic, Valencay was traditionally made with raw goat milk. It develops a smooth creamy interior that starts off lemony but becomes quite strong as it matures. We prefer to eat it young.

Valencay is known for it's pyramid shape. According to legend, Napoleon was visiting Chateau de Valençay on his way back from campaigning in Egypt sometime after he lost the Battle of the Nile. When this cheese, shaped like a pyramid was served at dinner, Napoleon reportedly took his sword and chopped off the top of the pyramid. This beautiful little cheese deserves a special place in your cheese repertoire. It is easy to make but looks so fancy that it is sure impress any where it is served.


1 Gallon Fresh Goat Milk
¼ tsp mesophilic culture MM100
Pinch p. candidum
Pinch geo. candidum
3 drops rennet
1 tbsp kosher salt

Sterilize everything with hot bleach water

Warm 1 gallon of goat milk in water bath to 72F
Add MM100 and both molds, mix into the milk
Dilute 3 drops rennet in ¼ cup of cool water add incorporate into the milk
Allow curd to set 24hrs

Fill pyramid molds, allow curd to drain and top off the molds with more curd until the molds are full. Place molds on a cheese mat in a plastic draining/ripening box. allow curd to drain for 48hrs at room temp. Remove whey as needed.

Clean the draining/ripening box. Carefully remove the cheeses from the molds, carefully apply salt all sides, and set them on a paper towel. Using a small sieve dust the cheese with ash. Lightly dust all surfaces until there is no white showing.
Place cheeses on a cheese mat in a clean dry ripening box with lid. Ripen at 50F. Remove whey as needed. After a week or two they will be covered with a blanket of white mold. At this point they are ready to eat or they can be wrapped in cheese wrapping paper and aged up to eight weeks or as desired. Enjoy! 
 I use a clear storage box as a ripening box, needlepoint canvas as a cheese mat and the cheese molds are from a cheese supply company.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Goat Milk Farmhouse Cheddar

Once you have had a great cheddar the flavor and texture are unforgettable. If you have only had factory produced cheddar you are really missing out on the spectrum of flavor offered by this famous English cheese. English Farmhouse Cheddar is traditionally made from early May through October from the milk of shorthorn cows but I think you will find making it with goat milk extremely rewarding.

From the artisan's standpoint there are two types of cheddar, farmhouse and stirred curd. Farmhouse cheddar typically has a milled curd where the curd is cut into slabs, stacked and flipped in order to allow the acidity build up. A stirred curd cheddar is made to save the labor involved with milling the curd. Either method, when done right, will yield excellent results. Cheddaring builds up acidity and also orients the direction of the strands of molecules in the cheese. The combination of a lower pH and salting the individual curds is what gives this cheese its classic cheddar flavor. While I generally make both types throughout the year, I prefer the farmhouse method. It just seems to fit my cheese making rhythm better.

 Farmhouse Cheddar

Warm 4 gallons of fresh goat milk to 86F

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of MA4001 DVI culture onto the surface of the milk, allow it to rehydrate a few minutes then incorporate it into the milk

Cover and ripen 45 minutes

Optional- if a yellow cheese is desired dilute 1/8tsp annatto in 1/4 cup of cool water and add it to the cultured milk.

Dilute 1 teaspoon of rennet in 1/2 cup of cool water add it to the cheese milk, stir well

Maintain temperature for 40 minutes until clean break is achieved

Cut curd to 1/4 inch, rest 10 minutes

Stir curd with a large whisk while raising the temperature to 102F over 40 minutes, let curds settle

Hold at 102F for 30 minutes, stir curds to prevent matting

Hold at 102F, allow curds to settle to bottom of the pot 20 minutes.

Drain the curds into a colander. Reserve 1/3 of the whey and pour back into the cheese pot.  Set colander of curds on the top of the cheese pot.  Insert a thermometer into the curd. Maintain temp of 102F with the warmth of the whey. Cover with clean muslin and put the lid on the pot. Use minimal heat under the pot as needed to maintain temperature.

Allow curds to drain for 60 minutes, flip the curd mat every 20 minutes and re-cover with cloth and lid.

Cut the cheese slab into 1 inch curds with a sharp knife or pastry cutter.  Add 2 tablespoons of course salt.

Press at 20lb for 30 min.
Invert and Press at 30lb for 30 min.
Invert and Press at 40lb for 1 hour
Invert and Press at 50lb for 12-15 hour.

Remove cheese from the press, place on a wooden board and allow to dry at room temperature for a few days. Flip the cheese daily to promote even drying.

There are many ways to prepare this cheese for aging. You can wax it, seal it with a food sealer but cloth banding is the traditional method. To make the cloth bandage coat the cheese with butter or lard then wrap the cheese carefully with cheese cloth. Repeat the process until you have three layers of butter or lard coated cloth.

Age at 55F and 80-85% humidity 3-6 months or longer. The longer you age it the better the flavor. The longest I have been able to hold out so far is three years, it was crumbly and sharp, the best cheddar ever!