Cheese production archives

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June 2021 | Four horizons of Ardennes’ milks

4horizons-Ardennes-1.jpg

The design of the recipe for this cheese is still a work in progress. Robin’s goal is to illustrate the layers of the 4 milks used to make the cheese, accumulated one day after another. As for farmed lands in space, or for soil horizons in time, the milks resulting from his cycling errands cohabit in one and only complex good, the cheese. Its appearance, smell and taste; after ripening in limestone caves, tries to come as close as Robin’s experience of this territory; wether positive or negative.

Cow milk, batch #6 | 07.06.2021

Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process
7L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Ferme du Temple[1].
Cycling activity of the 07.06.2021.
No ferments added. - 4mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (31°C).
-After 1h30' curds were cut in 4 directions and cooked from 31 to 40°C while stirring for 20'.
- Dry curds were mixed with 3tbsp of coarse sea salt.
- All the curds were pressed for 15' on each side, flipped and covered with 1/4tsp of vegetal carbon.
- Stored in wood press in net until next layer.

Organic goat milk, batch #6 | 07.06.2021

Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process
7L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3].
Cycling activity of the 08.06.2021.
No ferments added. - 4mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
-After 1h curds were cut in 4 directions and cooked from 35 to 44°C while stirring for 20'.
- Dry curds were mixed with 3tbsp of coarse sea salt.
- All the curds were pressed 15' on one side then swiped and pressed with the other cheese on top of it for 15', then flipped and covered with 1/4tsp of vegetal carbon.
- Stored in wood press in net until next layer.

Organic cow milk, batch #6 | 07.06.2021

Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process
7L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4].
Cycling activity of the 09.06.2021.
No ferments added. - 6mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (34°C).
-After 1h curds were cut in 4 directions and cooked from 35 to 44°C while stirring for 20'.
- Dry curds were mixed with 3tbsp of coarse sea salt.
- All the curds were pressed 15' on one side then swiped and pressed with the other cheese on top of it for 15', then flipped and covered with 1/4tsp of vegetal carbon.
- Stored in wood press in net until next layer.

Goat milk, batch #6 | 07.06.2021

Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process
7L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Melkgeitenbedrijf Noelmans-Peters[5].
Cycling activity of the 10.06.2021.
No ferments added. - 7mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (31°C).
-After 1h curds were cut in 4 directions and cooked from 35 to 44°C while stirring for 20'.
- Dry curds were mixed with 3tbsp of coarse sea salt.
- All the curds were pressed 15' on one side then swiped and pressed with the other cheese on top of it for 15' and flipped again for 15' pressing.
- Flipped and in Mush-room[6] on metal grid.
Ripening time and process
- After 3 days P. Camemberti was growing.
- It was stored in freezer after 10 days.

This cheese was exhibited during the Open Studios 2021 of the Jan van Eyck Academie.

Four horizons of Ardennes’ milks

4horizons-Ardennes-5.jpg

As the Maas bassin, I accumulated horizons,
Layers of time, flintstone division;
Layers of cheese, charcoal division.
From bottom to top, goats, cows, goats, cows; they made these milks from all grass,
From top to bottom, South, East, South-East, South-West; cycling around city of the Maas.
I aggregated twenty eight litres, four farms, two ruminants, and two countries,
One landscape. Its strata came to us from mines excavated under the trees,
My milks were shaped from chymosin; separates whey from white curd grains,
With heat that dries and press that drains.
Ten days, I ripened in Penicilium candidum saturated atmosphere,
Ten days, hands flipped and rubbed me in humans’s microbiosphere,
I may retreat in the cave under the pasture,
One more month, eaten for sure.

April 2021 | Ardennes cheeses in Maastricht

JvE cheese tasting.jpg

After gaining experience with the use of industrial ferments to make cheese with the milk from Hoeve de Koeberg[4], Robin Bantigny initiated a 1 month performance consisting on a daily routine consisting of:

  1. Cycling errands for milk in 4 different dairy farms,
  2. Cheese making in the Food Lab of the Jan van Eyck Academie,
  3. Soil analysis of local pastures’ biotope.

This performance roughly named [Landscape, Soil, Cheese and me] brought Robin to experiment even more on cheese-making, drived only by his feelings of deep entanglement with the landscape surrounding him and the other artists staying at the Jan van Eyck Academie — to whom the cheeses were destinated to.

What was learnt from this performance

  • For fresh goat cheese the milk, is often not acidic enough even after re-heating (ph6). It should stay at room temperature for one night to get good curds but never more, otherwise it could spoil the cheese taste.
  • The quantity of rennet added, if too high, results in an elastic curd, wether it is cooked or not.
  • The metal net used in the Mush-room[6] oxidises when the humidity is high, leaving rust marks on the cheeses’ rind.
  • 3 hours of whey moisturization per week is enough to stay above 75% all week long.
  • If there are flies in the cheese ripening room, then it's an emergency where all the cheeses must be moved elsewhere and isolated from each other to avoid any contamination (plastic film is not enough).
  • The cheeses are very often not salted enough, specially for the cooked curds that get mild and boring.
  • Sort of spoiled cheeses enjoy a time in the freezer to change their taste.

Organic goat milk, batch #1 | 02.04.2021

The round cheese on the right is from batch #2 of organic goat milk, the others are from this article’s batch.
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
8L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3]
Cycling activity of the 01.04.2021.
No ferments added. - 5mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
- 1.5h curdling. Half of curd cut in small cubes, half poured in cheesecloth with ladle.
Medium (x2) and small (x2) plastic baskets and cheesecloth. Unpressed and left to drain for 3 days. - Dry salting on both sides after unmolding. Flipped and store in box in the Mush-room[6].
- Flipped daily for 4 days, with a few dark molds scraped of the surface.
- Dark molds were left to grow freely on small pyramide.
- Out of box to rest on hay and moistued with whey.
- Small round and Medium brique: 20 days of ripening; Medium round: 50 days of ripening; Small square: 45 days of ripening.

The medium brique and small round were frist eaten, and happen to taste quite mild with a nice aerated texture, rather soft and not too elastic.
The medium round was eaten one month later during the tastings with resident artists, and happen to stay rather mild despite more ageing.
The last small pyramide was eaten one month later, at home with friends: it was covered with a variety of dark molds but happen do be deliciously dry and “goaty” (like an old Bouton de culotte goat cheese). This shows again that free wild molds, even without any control, is one of the conditions for tasty cheeses.

Cow milk, batch #1 | 02.04.2021

Cow-1a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
7L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Ferme du Temple[1].
Cycling activity of the 02.04.2021.
No ferments added. - 5mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
- 1h curdling. Curds were cut and cooked while stirring for 30' at 45°C.
- Cooked curds were then salted (1tbsp).
All the curds were put in the big tomme hoop with weight on top to drain. It was then flipped to drain the opposite side. - The cheese was kept in a box to stay moist.
- After 3 days it was salted on both side with coarse sea salt, flipped daily.
-Yellow and white Geotrichum appeared 3 days later, and the box was moved to the Mush-room[6].
-After 10 days of ripening, the cheese was put out of the box on hay and moisturised with whey.
- 2/4 of the cheese was eaten with friends after a total 1 month of ripening. 1/4 was given to the farmers.
- 1/4 was eaten after 50 days.

The cheese looked a lot like a Reblochon cheese, with nice proportions and smooth texture, as well as a washed out yellow rind. However, the taste was mild and under-salted: it could have ripen even longer.

Organic cow milk, batch #1 | 06.04.2021

Organic-cow-1a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
8L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4].
Cycling activity of the 05.04.2021.
1/4tsp Mesophilic lactic ferments[7] and 1/4tsp Penicillium Roqueforti [8]. - Ferments left to develop for half an hour in heated milk (45°C).
- 15mL liquid animal rennet[2] added.
- Did not curdle after 1 hour and was left at room temperature for 2 days.
- The result was a very acidic, aerated agregate of curds. It was drained with cheesecloth in the big tomme hoop, flipped and stored in a box.
- After draining for one day, it was salted on both side with coarse sea salt and rubbed in wild garlic leaves, then stored in box in the Mush-room[6].
- 5 days after being rubbed, it was put out of the box and covered with aluminium foil, then flipped.
- After 25 from production, it was put in fridge.
- It was eaten after a total of 50 days of ageing with the resident artists.

When it was brought out of the wild garlic leaves, a microbial film had covered the now brown leaves. Despite its age, the cheese was still looking white and soft like a recently made cheese. The taste was interesting, with fresh unsalted goat cheese vibes and off-flavors of wild garlic. It was very appreciated by residents.

Goat milk, batch #1 | 08.04.2021

Goat-1a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
4L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Melkgeitenbedrijf Noelmans-Peters[5].
Cycling activity of the 07.04.2021.
1/8tsp Penicillium Roqueforti [8]. - Ferments left to develop for half an hour in heated milk (35°C).
- 4mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
- 1h and 20' curdling. Curds were cut and cooked while stirring for 20' at 40°C.
All the curds were put in a cylindric container with some whey to aggregate. - After 3 days in the container, a nice cheese full of holes was obtained. It was salted on both side with 1/4tsp of sea salt and stored in a box.
- After 4 days flipped daily, blue mold was growing well. It was salted again (1/2tsp) and covered with alumonium foil and put in the Mush-room[6] out of the box.
- 1 week later it was out of aluminium foil, with alot of blue and green P. Roqueforti growing on the aerated side. It was eaten with resident artists on the next day, after 23 days of ripening.

The container-molding technic developed from the last cow cheese “failure” was one point to obtain a cheese which meat is aerated enough to host P. Roqueforti.
The cheese obtained was rather creamy with light tones of blue. Fortunately, even “blue-cheese-haters” liked it.

Organic goat milk, batch #2 | 08.04.2021

Organic-goat-2a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
8L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3].
Cycling activity of the 08.04.2021.
1/4tsp Penicilium Camemberti[9]. - Ferments left to develop for half an hour in heated milk (35°C).
- 10mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
- After 1h20' of curdling, curds were cut roughly.
- Cut curds were put by hand in medium hoops with cheesecloth and small hoops without cloth.
- The 2 cheeses were left to drain inside a box for 1 day.
- They ended up having odd shapes: medium round was shaped like a volcano and medium brique was too empty on top so leftover curds added to fill, and they were flipped in cheesecloth and kept in molds. The small ones were put out of their hoops in a box.
- The medium round was collapsing and kept in mold for 1 more day. The small cheeses were too collapsed, so Robin crumbled them with 1/4tsp sea salt and back in cheesecloth in the small pyramide hoop.
- 3 days after curdling, all cheeses were out of hoops.
- All of them were salted on both sides with sea salt.
-All of them were in the Mush-room[6] 3 days after curdling, flipped daily, and started to develop white P. Camemberti molds.
- Medium round and small pyramide: 15 days of ripening; Medium brique: 35 days of ripening.

The medium round developed good soft bloomy rind flavors, was creamy and runny, but not so strong. It had the most success among resident artists. The small pyramide had soft bloomy rind flavors and farm notes, but crumbly inside.
The medium brique had a good taste, with strong goat character and no difficult or off-flavors, like other over-aged soft cheeses.

Cow milk, batch #2 | 09.04.2021

Cow-2a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
11L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Ferme du Temple[1].
Cycling activity of the 09.04.2021.
No ferments added. - 16mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (40°C).
-1h curdling and 20' of cooking and stirring the curds (45°C).
- Curds were ripen in cheesecloth in box with whey for 2 days.
- Aged curds were drained in a container in the fridge.
11g of finely cut wild garlic and 1tbsp of sea salt was added. Everyhting was mixed by hand and molded in big tomme for 30min with weight, on each side, before to be stored in a box.
- After one day of ripening, the cheese cracked in 2 pieces and was put back in a hoop in the box.
- 2 days later, Robin decided to fill the box of cracked cheese with goat whey (pH4.7) from batch #2 to make cream cheese later.
- The curds were mixed by hand with goat cream from batch #3.
- 14 days after curdling, the cream-cheese tasted for the first time.

This wild garlic perfumed cheese failed but turned out to find success among resident artists as cream-cheese, despite having a strong Camembert notes soften by its creamy texture and the spicy wild garlic.

Whey transformation #1 | 11.04.2021

1.5 weeks of whey was cooked to a boil, simmer for 30' and drained with cheesecloth and a ladle.
±1.5kg of good white Ricotta (dry curds) was obtained. It was stored in a bucket in the fridge and eaten with all sorts of dishes.

Organic cow milk, batch #2 | 13.04.2021

Organic-cow-2a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
7L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4]. Cycling activity of the 12.04.2021. 1/4tsp Mesophilic[7] and and 1/4tsp Staphylococcus [10]. - Ferments left to develop for half an hour in heated milk (35°C).
- 8mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30°C).
-After 1h, the curds were cut and left to rest for one day.
- One day after curdling, curds were put in cheesecloth and moulded in big tomme for 40' with weight, on each sides of the cheese.
- The cheese was flipped and salted on both sides 3 days after curdling. It was stored in the Mush-room[6].
- After 4 more days, Geotrichum candidum skin was growing well on it.
- It was often flipped until it became runny after 25 days of ripening.
- Eaten after 36 days of ripening, cut and stored in fridge for later atsting.

After the 36 days of ripening, the cheese happen to be undersalted and rather mild with slightly off-flavors; with a meat rather hard and dry with a lot of holes. One week in fridge later, flavors improved greatly, becoming close to washed rind cheeses like Pont L'Évèque.

Goat milk, batch #2 + Organic goat milk batch #3 | 16.04.2021

The squarish cheese from the front is from batch #1 of organic goat milk, the others are from this article’s batch.
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
- 11L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Melkgeitenbedrijf Noelmans-Peters[5]. Cycling activity of the 14.04.2021.
- 5L goat organic full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3]. Cycling activity of the 15.04.2021.
1/4tsp Penicillium Roqueforti [8]. - The 11L stood 2 days at room temperature and went too acidic (pH4), with a yogurt texture.
- 5L were less acidic (pH5.3) so the 2 batches were merged.
- Ferment left to develop for half an hour in heated milk (37°C).
- 12mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30°C).
- After 1h, still very acidic and did not curdle more.
- Add to pass through cheesecloth as for Ricotta to get the curds.
- They were salted and put in all hoops available with cheesecloth: medium ones, small ones and big tomme.
- 2 days later, all cheeses were unmolded but with risks of shrinking down. They were put in boxes and in protective net.
- 3 days later, an interesting mix of P. Roqueforti and Geotrichum candidum was growing. However, the rind was fragile and they were all carefully flipped: close to no rind on the other sides of them.
- 1 week after unmolding they were too runny with rind slipping from the cheese all over the leaking whey. Big tomme was rubbed in aluminium foil and brought in the Mush-room[6]. Medium tomme was put in plastic film to get to Arvid&Marie dinner (ungraceful looking). Others were kept in opened box in the Mush-room[6] to let them dry slowly.
- All except the big tomme were eaten beetween 15 days and 22 days.

Small and medium ones presented a good strong goat taste brought by the runny rind, although their meat was soft and fresh like Ricotta (typical from cheeses curdled from lactic acidification rather than rennet).
Unfortunately, after 23 days of ripening the big tomme was put out of the aluminium and an unberable pikant taste took over: it was thrown away.

Cow milk, batch #3 | 19.04.2021

Cow-3.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
5L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Ferme du Temple[1].
Cycling activity of the 16.04.2021.
No ferments added. - 7mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
-After 1h, cutting and stirring of the curds for 15' at 41°C.

- All the curds were put in the medium round without cheesecloth nor pressing.
- After 1 day in box to drain, the cheese was unmolded, salted with sea salt (1tsp) and stored in box.
- Stored out of box in Mush-room[6] after 3 days, on bamboo mat.
- 2 days later, white Geotrichum candidum “wild” mold was growing well.
- It was often flipped for 15 days until the bottom of the rind was opening with runny inside. So it was put in plastic foil in fridge for future tasting.
- It was eaten after a total of 26 days of ripening.

This cheese shape was sharp when it was eaten with JvE residents. Unfortunately it was mild and not salty enough, despite its nice “small holes” texture.

Whey transformation #2 | 20.04.2021

- 10 days of whey was cooked to a boil, simmer for 30' and drained with cheesecloth and a ladle.
±1kg of good white Ricotta (dry curds) was obtained. It was stored in a bucket in the fridge and eaten with all sorts of dishes. Its molding in a hoop was tested to obtain Bruccio (whey cheese originating from Corsica), but it was not ripened.
- There was eventually 27L of clean processed whey stored in a 120L container.

Organic cow milk, batch #3 + Goat milk, batch #3 + Organic goat milk, batch #4 + Cow milk, batch #4 | 21-23.04.2021

Living-soil-cheese-1.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Total of 27L of raw unpasterized milk:
- 8L cow full milk, by Hoeve de Koeberg[4]. Cycling activity of the 19.04.2021.


- 7L goat full milk, by Melkgeitenbedrijf Noelmans-Peters[5]. Cycling activity of the 21.04.2021.
- 5L goat full milk, by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3]. Cycling activity of the 22.04.2021.
- 7L cow full milk, by Ferme du Temple[1]. Cycling activity of the 23.04.2021.

No ferments added. - 15mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (32°C) and 1h20' curdling for first 20L.
- 6mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30.5°C) and 1h curdling for 7L left.
- Both batches were cut and stirred for 15' at 35°C.
- All curds were salted with 3tbsp of sea salt.
All the curds were pressed in a cheese press (orginaly used as a fruit press) of 28cm &#8960 for 20'. It was then flipped and put in a box that happen to be too small.
- 3 days later, the cheese did spread out in the box and its round shape was corrupted to an oblong shape. It was flipped and put out of box on a metal grid in the Mush-room[6] to dry.
- After 11 days often flipped, it was lay down hay and rubbed with whey to increase dark “wild” molds growth.
- After 1 month and 10 days, the cheese was brought to the caves of Sint Pietersberg to ripen, where the conditions hopefuly develop interesting flavours.[11]
- Out of cave in freezer for exhibition after a total 1 month and 25 days of ripening.

The aggregation of the first 3 batchs of milk did not curdle enough, eventhough they were left for 2 days to acidify up to pH4.7 in an open container with whey. (All milks were all skimmed and the cream was added in cream-cheese.)
This cheese was exhibited during the Open Studios 2021 of the Jan van Eyck Academie.

Living soils make cheese alive

Living-soil-cheese-7.jpg

Here I am in limestone corridors, more than two months old,
Read me through my rind, wrinkled by the wildest molds,
Time is needed to get such thing, it grows as slow as the soil’s skin.
Get us matter, get us proteins, we’ll digest them, let fungi in.
Dead beings and milks, we like them all,
White cheeses, black soils, same biotope. From the caves’ wall,
I invite you: Lactobacilus, Lactococcus, Mucor,
Penicillium, Brevibacterium, Geotrichum and even more,
Mysterious, anonymous guests from which humans,
Will make a feast.

Whey transformation #3 | 28.04.2021

8 days of whey was cooked to a boil, simmer for 30' and drained with cheesecloth and a ladle.
±1kg of good white Ricotta (dry curds) was obtained. It was stored in a bucket in the fridge and eaten with all sorts of dishes.

Goat milk, batch #4 | 30.04.2021

Goat-4a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
10L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Melkgeitenbedrijf Noelmans-Peters[5].
Cycling activity of the 28.04.2021.
1/4tsp Penicillium camemberti [9]. - Ferment left to develop for 20' in heated milk (35°C).
- 6mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30°C).
- Curds cut roughly and put by hand in big tomme and medium hoops with cheesecloth, and small hoops without cheesecloth.
- Drained for 30' and leftover whey was added to the top to get all curds.
- Let drain another 30' and in box to continue draining.
- 3 days later, everything was put out of hoops and cloths aside from the big tomme which was flipped to drain more. All others were flipped and kept in a box.
- The next day, big tomme was unmolded and salted on its surface (1.5tsp), as well as the medium cheeses (1/2tsp) and the small ones (1/4tsp).
- Cheese were stored in the Mush-room[6] to dry.
- After 3 days the small pyramide was eaten. The small round got fly larvaes and was discarded.
- After 15 days, medium brique was eaten. Big tomme was not good and discarded
- After 17 days, the medium round was eaten with resident artists.

- Small pyramide was too acidic, almost spicy but with a nice soft texture.
- Medium brique was eaten at home with a rather good taste and a light “pikant” from the rind.
- The big tomme was absolutely terrible with too much runny acidic rind and a meat full of holes but very dry and a rancid paper taste that crumble in the mouth.
- The strong farm taste of the medium round unexpectedly got a lot of success among residents.

Organic goat milk, batch #5 | 30.04.2021

Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
5L goat full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch[3].
Cycling activity of the 29.04.2021.
1/4tsp Penicillium Roqueforti[8]. - Ferment left to develop for 20' in heated milk (35°C).
- 6mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30°C).
- 1h20' later, curds were cut and stirred at 38°C, but they looked very firm and strange.
All the curds were put in a squarish box with whey to aggregate and stored in the Mush-room[6]. - After 3 days it did not aggregate and the whey was discarded.
- Curds were kept in box to ripen.
- Not much was growing after 6 days and the box was opened to get contaminated.
- After 15 days it turned badly and was tested mixed with ricotta and salt to get a cheese-paste with no success. It ended up in the trash.

Organic cow milk, batch #4 + Cow milk, batch #5 | 30.04.2021

Organic-cow-4-cow-5a.jpg
Milk amount/origin and cycling route Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
- 10L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4] Cycling activity of the 28.04.2021.
- 7L cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Ferme du Temple[1]. Cycling activity of the 30.04.2021.
1/4tsp Mesophilic[7] and 1/4tsp Staphylococcus[10]. - Ferment left to develop for 30' in heated milk (35°C).
- 10mL liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (35°C).
- After 1h30' curdling, curds were cut and stirred for 20' at 40°C.
- They were then salted with sea salt.
- Curds were pressed in cheese press for 20' on both sides. The cheese was put n metal grid with cheesecloth above it and left to dry. - After 3 days drying, it was transferred to the Mush-room[6]
- It was flipped often and covered with a net to avoid flies, and until 11 days it was cut in 2: one half in fridge, one half brought to France.
- First tasting after 26 days of ripening.
- Second tasting the next day after some time in warm environment.
- Last tasting with resident artists after the presentation of my cheese-making performance. Last pieces were given to Lukas, the ripening cave’s owner.

- First tasting: a bit too dry and plaster-like in the center at this stage.
- Second tasting: better and slightly runny after the train trip in bag.
- Last tasting: very good, buttery meat and light brie notes, just the right salting.

October-November 2020 | Sint Gertruuid cheeses in Maastricht

When joining the Jan Van Eyck Academie and its Food Lab in Maastricht; our initiative for the first months of the residency was to learn, with the help of industrial ferments (Danisco) and Gavin Webber’s recipes, the behaving of the 5 basic microbes used in cheese production:

  1. Starter cultures including lactic ferments (Lactococcus, Streptococcus thermophilus, etc.)
  2. Geotrichum candidum
  3. Penicillium candidum (camemberti or roqueforti)
  4. Brevibacterium linens

Geotrichum (mold form) cheeses | 15th of October

Orange spots of Geotrichum (mold form) are just starting to grow on the fresh cheeses.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. Mesophilic lactic ferments[7] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[12]. - Liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C).
- 1h curdling before cutting the curds in 2cm cubes.
- Let sit 30min at same temperature.
Brick and pyramid “faisselle” small plastic baskets and cheesecloth. Unpressed. Unmolded after 2 hours. - Dry salting on both sides after unmolding. Stored on a bamboo mat in a closed box.
- Turned daily while cleaning the whey in the box (to keep humidity at constant level) the first week.
- 1 more week of ripening without any mat in the cheese box.

The cut curds were overcooked, resulting on an elastic texture. The cheeses were unmolded too early: as they were still soft, their shapes loosen up with softer edges — as a Reblochon cheese will do. A solid white rind developed, and it was decided not to wash the cheese as in the Limburger recipe followed; but rather keep it Reblochon-like. When cut, the soft elastic paste wasn’t runny nor grainy. Taste wise, it was pretty close to a young Reblochon: a full milk tone followed by a nutty aftertaste.

Geotrichum (yeast form) cheeses | 21th of October

The “St Félicien” shaped cheese kept enough water to get a satisfying runny rind.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. Mesophilic lactic ferments[7] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[12]. - Liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C).
- 1h curdling before cutting the curds in 2cm cubes.
- Let sit 30min at same temperature.
Small pyramid, Small round and Medium round plastic faisselle molds and cheesecloth. Unpressed. Unmolded after 1 day. - Dry salting on both sides 2 days after unmolding. Storing on a bamboo mat in a closed box.
- Turned daily while cleaning the whey for 8 more days, without any mat in the cheese box.

As the curds were less cooked thus less prone to stick to each other, the cheeses kept more moisture. The cheeses were kept too long before salting, and as a result, an unwanted Mucor mold[13] grown rapidly (the bamboo mat could be the source of it). The cheeses were brushed to get ride of the hairy mold, and in a matter of days the yellow Geotrichum yeast colonised the rinds. But the damage was done and, although the cheese texture was good (white and grainy inside, runny next to the rind), its taste was slightly putrid on the rind.

Brevibacterium cheeses | 3rd of November

The “tomme” black cheese was served with other cheeses for Christmas.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. Mesophilic lactic ferments[7] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[12]. - Liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C).
- 1h curdling before cutting the curds in 2cm cubes.
- Let sit 30min at same temperature.
Big tomme and small round plastic faisselle molds and cheesecloth. Slightly pressed. Unmolded after 1 day. - Washed for 1h, wiped and flipped every day for 3 days.
- Washed for 1h, wiped and flipped every 2 day for 2 weeks.
- 20 days in total of ripening in the cheese box, at high moisture.
- Covered with active carbon (from coconut husk) a few days before serving.
- The big “Tomme” was washed 1 more week and kept 2 more weeks in fridge.

This was our first experience in washed rind cheeses. Among them, the Herve cheese is typical from the Limburg region. Most washed cheese are found in the North of France, in Belgium and more generally in the wettest European countries. The goal of the brine washing, often mixed with more starter culture, paired with very moist ripening rooms; is to grow a characteristic orange rind resulting from Brevibacterium linens bacterias. Although we did not manage to get it to fully colonise our cheeses, blue-grey and bright yellow spots grown — could be Penicillium and Pseudomas fluorescens microbes. Those spots were scratched and salt was added directly on the rind to get rid of it. The smaller cheese, eaten first, had a semi-hard texture and a discreet taste that came close to washed cheeses. Nevertheless, because it went through more brine baths, the biggest cheese was over-salted — still appreciable with figs jam.

Penicillium camemberti cheeses | 11th of November

Bloomy rind appears on the ripening cheeses.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. Geotrichum candidum[14] and Penicillium camemberti culture[9]. - Liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C).
- 1h curdling, curd directly put in the molds with a ladle.
- Let sit 30min at same temperature.
Big tomme, medium brick and small pyramid plastic molds and cheesecloth. Unpressed. Unmolded after 4 days of draining. - Dry salting on both sides after unmolding. Storing on plastic racks in an aerated box (to lower moisture).
- Turned while cleaning the whey every day for 2 weeks.
- Kept 1 week and more in the fridge for a total of ± 3 weeks.

This was our first experience in bloomy soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Neufchâtel). They ask for the use of Penicillium camemberti to obtain a white “bloomy” rind. Instead of cutting the curds as for most cheeses, it has to be put directly in molds with the help of a ladle. Thus, the cheeses obtained are full of water (whey) and need to drain for a few days before to be unmolded. As a result, the cheeses thickness is shrinking drastically, but the inside stays soft. Those cheeses taste was milder than of a Camembert, closer to a Brie. They became runny as expected after some time in the fridge.


Whey vinegars | 11th of November

Process.
Milk origin Whey origin Input Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[4]. Penicillium camemberti batch of cheeses. Beetroot juice. Canne sugar. 2 months in jars with air-release valves.

Hypothesis

The main by-product of cheesemaking is whey, or lactoserum. It is often a challenge to find ways to valuate this bulky “leftover” of cheese production, and this is something we already addressed in the article About whey. Our little cheese production is no exception to this issue: what to do with the litters of leftover whey? It appears that there is a wide variety of fermented dairy drinks; and among them some rely on a bend of both whey and milk. Kumis is a beverage from Central Asia traditionally made with mare or donkey’s milk — the available brands are mostly made with cow’s milk today. Although Kumis is similar to kefir, it has the intriguing ability to get slightly alcoholic, thanks to the sucrose added during fermentation.

Results

For all those reasons, we tried to get Kumis out of our leftover whey. On one side with a sweet beetroot juice added to whey, on the other with canne sugar. After 2 months of fermentation in jars, and a few weeks in the fridge, we obtained a good result with the 1st experimentation, that led to something tasting like a beetroot vinegar with a strong Camembert aftertaste. It makes an interesting seasoning, but certainly not a pleasant drink. The 2d experiment was unsuccessful: the refined sugar provided too much sweetness, that matches poorly with the acidic whey. Aside from those 2 experiments, a “witness” simple whey jar aged as long and made up a nice lactic vinegar. Although we did not succeed in making any beverage, those are nice way to use our cheeses’ by-products.

April-May 2020 | Mont-Dore and experimental cheeses in La Bourboule

Mont-Dore cheeses | 30th of April - 23th of May

The white powder is Geotrichum candidum (mold form) spreading on the ripening cheese.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Farm of Ondet corner, in the mountains of Mont-Dore, France. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. Medium plastic molds from faisselle yogurt and cheesecloth. Softly pressed with a glass of water for a few hours, on both sides. - Dry salting on both sides after unmolding.
- Turned daily the first week.
- 10 days of ripening on a wooden board, in an aerated cheese box with a piece of beech timber found in the forest.

During our quarantine in the French region of Auvergne, we found some time to produce a few cheeses, made from a local milk produced by cows grazing on wild crops found at high altitude. Among them, the Alpine fennel (Meum athamanticum), Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and Great yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea). These cheeses have a strong smell, intensively “farm-like”. However their flavor has a certain creaminess, close to a French Saint-Marcellin, though with a firmer texture.



For the following cheeses, we initiated a quest for types of “cheeses” that could help reducing milk consumption and intensive milk-farms in regions where the landscape is not well-suited for having cows on grass, in landscapes with less sun where beans would thrive, or in sandy, loamy and rocky soils which makes beans quite resilient.

Bean-cheeses | April 2020

Hulling of the white beans before mashing.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Beans grown in Europe: cooked, hulled and mashed for white and red; heated milk for soja. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. Cider vinegar from France. Small plastic molds from faisselle yogurt, where the cheeses spent a few days without being pressed. - First tasting after 3 days outside in molds (covered with net).
- Second tasting after 18 days of ripening in fridge.

Hypothesis

The first experiment, “bean-cheese”, is meant to allow cheesemakers to swipe dairy-cheese for vegetal-cheese with the same tools and fungi they use. Thus, they could adapt in time of drought, and benefit from that possible vegetal asset which could attract a different customer (lactose intolerant/vegans) base to their cheesemaking business. As beans (such as soja) have an amazing diversity and can be grown all around the world and dried, each vegetal cheese can be as rooted in its region as the actual cheeses are, with their own microflora and ripening time (like different tofus in China).

Results

The“bean-cheeses” using soja were inspired by “stinky tofu” recipes, but this method turned inefficient when applied to other types of beans (red & white). We did not find any appropriate way to curdle the milk, and focused on bean paste. The taste was strongly vegetal before ripening, and uneatable after 2 weeks — while matured tofu developed strong cheese-like notes.

Potato-cheeses | April 2020

Potatoe cheeses maturing in front of a photography of the Puys (extinct volcanos) from the Auvergne region.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Farm of Ondet corner, in the mountains of Mont-Dore, France. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. Cider vinegar from France. Cooked and mashed potatoes were added to the cheese. Small plastic molds from faisselle yogurt, where the cheeses spent a few days without being pressed. - First tasting after 3 days outside in molds (covered with net).
- Second tasting after 18 days of ripening in fridge.

Hypothesis

The second —yet unsuccessful— experiment, explores how “potato-cheeses” could be an interesting way to lower pressure on grasslands or imported feed in times of drought, by using ¼ to ½ less milk per cheese produced. While reading about potatoes for various projects, we came across an experiment made by a German cheesemaker, who tried to create cheeses made of mashed potatoes matured with curd (preferably goat or sheep milk). French scholar Louis de Jaucourt, the most prolific contributor to the first Encyclopedia (XVIIIth century), wrote that the share of milk and potatoes could differ depending on customers wealth: the wealthier the milkier.(We repeated the “potato-cheese” process with tofu to give it a try.)

Results

The “potato-cheeses” taste was close to so-called Aligot (a french specialty from Auvergne region) in the first days. It turned to a running paste in the long run, so rope was winded onto each cheese. However, the 2 weeks matured potato brought strong amonia notes that made it uneatable.

February 2020 | Vexin cheeses in Paris

Soft blue cheese attempt

Cheeses in their ripening box.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Vexin full cow milk, unpasteurized, from Launay farm[15]. No lactic ferments. Attempt of starter culture transplantation from blue cheese (Penicillium roqueforti) on the squarish ones. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. Homemade molds from drilled plastic containers where the cheeses spent a few days without being pressed. - Turned daily the first week.
- 3 days outside in aerated box before dry salting on both faces.
- Brie cheese (Penicillium camemberti) rind added on the round ones, then all sealed in aluminium paper.
- 1 month ripening in fridge for 1 round sample. 3 months for the others.

On the round ones, no small organism culture of any kind was added but they aged with bits of bloomy rind (from Brie de Meaux AOC cheese). The squarish ones saw their milk curdle with Penicillium roqueforti in it (bits of Bleu d'Auvergne AOC cheese in the milk). After being forgotten during the covid19 lockdown in France for 3 months, they gave the most unexpected results. Despite the aluminium paper in which they were sealed, the humid environment led mold develop itself to a much too large extent. As a result, the over-ripen round samples turned out to taste even more “blue-cheese-like” than the squarish ones. Furthermore, none of them develop the expected blue veins but rather spots of unwanted dark mold. On the positive side, both had a grainy/smooth texture akin to Roquefort cheese. Their smell and taste was strong but deliciously tart.

September 2019 | Normandie smoked cheese in Paris

Rygeost cheeses | 11th of September

The Rygeost cheese after smoking.
Milk origin Culture input Milk processing and curdling Molding process Ripening time and process
Normandie organic full cow milk. Vexin full cow milk, unpasteurized, from Launay farm[15]. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. Homemade molds from drilled plastic containers where the cheeses spent a few days without being pressed. - Turned daily the first week.
- 2 days outside in an aerated box before dry salting on both faces.
- 4 days in fridge before smoking for 1 hour with hay.
- Kept in fridge 1 more week before serving (2 months for extra batch).

This cheese recipe was inspired by a Danish smoked cheese called Rygeost. It is crucial to let the cheese rest at least one week after smoking, so that the burnt taste does not take over on the freshness of the soft cheese taste. The cheese should not be over-ripen, but it can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks as the smoke prevents mold to develop on its rind. 2 batches of this cheese were made in Paris before to be served in Amsterdam on the 4th of October for a performance dinner called The Soft Protest, re-chewing & Digest. A third batch was kept unsmoked and ripen for 2 month.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Ferme du Temple is a small dairy and potatoe farm located up the city of Visé, Belgium. Since a few years, it engaged in direct sales from producers to consumers with a variety of dairy products from their farm, as well as local products (honey, sirop, apple juice) from farms nearby. By bike, it takes 15km from Heer neighborhood to reach the farm, then 15km to reach the Jan Van Eyck Academie and store milk before to process it.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Calves (cows offsprings) stomach extract used as a coagulant in traditional cheesemaking.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Since 2011, Maurice and Clemence Dezaire have been offering meaningful daytime activities to the elderly in groups in the only organic dairy goat farm of Limburg. 380 Saanen dairy goats are milked twice a day in a 30-stall milking parlour. Their milk is processed by OGC. The milk is mainly used to produce cheese and milk powder for organic products.” (Translated from Zorgboerderij Ravensbosch website) By bike, it takes 13km from Heer neighborhood to reach the farm, then 17km to reach the Jan Van Eyck Academie and store milk before to process it.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Organic dairy farm De Koeberg is run by René and Claudia and has 65 dairy cows and about 40 young stock. […] The calves walk in the herd of their mothers for ± 2 months. Then they meet in age groups. When they are ± 1.5 years old they are inseminated. After 9 months they have their first calf and start giving milk. Before they calve, they return to the large herd. We have 60 hectares of land in use. Part of it is for grazing and the rest we grow our own feed for the cows (grass, maize and grain). Our cows spend more than 200 days a year in the pasture. In the winter period they lie comfortably in the straw in the stable. We milk the cows every day around 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., 365 days a year. The organic branch of Friesland-Campina comes to collect the milk every 3 days and makes organic products from it.” (Translated from Hoeve de Koeberg website) By bike, it takes 7km from Heer neighborhood to reach the farm, then 11km to reach the Jan Van Eyck Academie and store the 8L of milk before to process it.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Since 2007, the dairy goat farm of the Noelmans-Peters family has been located in the middle between the beautiful St. Hubertuskerk in Membruggen and the Molenbeemd nature reserve." (from Riemst website) The farm located in Flanders, Belgium, hosts ±400 Saanen goats. By bike, it takes 16km from Heer neighborhood to reach the farm, then 14km to reach the Jan Van Eyck Academie and store milk before to process it.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 Jop Mens built the Mush-room in the Jan van Eyck Academie, in perspective of growing mushrooms in it. Unfortunately, the Covid19 related lockdown made it impossible for him to farm mushrooms. The cool atmosphere and the sealed plastic room constituted the ideal conditions for Robin to ripen cheese on site.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Danisco CHOOZIT MA4002 LYO 5 DCU.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Texel Penicillium Roqueforti PRB18
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Danisco CHOOZIT Penicilium Candidum SAM3 (against Mucor).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Danisco CHOOZIT MVA.
  11. Thanks to Lukas whos house, in Petit Lanaye, has a safe access to the huge cave networks of the hill.
    Characteristics of the cave: 8C temperature and 90% moisture, hole (60x30cm wide) in wall to store cheeses, protected with anti-insect net.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Danisco CHOOZIT PLA mixed rind blend.
  13. Mucor often are an unwanted genus of white hairy molds, also known as “cats hair” in the cheese industry — although they can be part of the rind formation for some farm cheeses like St Nectaire.
  14. Danisco CHOOZIT Geotrichum candidum GEO17.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Launay farm is located at 42km from Paris, in the French Vexin, next to the town of Nesle-la-Vallée. This conventional dairy farm is run by two brothers, Eric and Romain Chevalier: with a capacity of 45 cows, the building has grown to 90 cows during the last years. This milk is sourced from Laiterie de la Chapelle, Paris.