Cheese production archives

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September 2019 | Normandie smoked cheese in Paris

Rygeost cheeses | 11th of September

The Rygeost cheese after smoking.
Milk origin Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Normandie organic full cow milk. Vexin full cow milk, unpasteurized, from Launay farm[1]. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. 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.

February 2020 | Vexin cheeses in Paris

Soft blue cheese attempt

Cheeses in their ripening box.
Milk origin Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Vexin full cow milk, unpasteurized, from Launay farm[1]. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. No lactic ferments. Attempt of starter culture transplantation from blue cheese (Penicillium roqueforti) on the squarish ones. 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.

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 Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Farm of Ondet corner, in the mountains of Mont-Dore, France. Powdered animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C), 24h curdling. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. 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

Hulling of the white beans before mashing.
Milk origin Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Beans grown in Europe: cooked, hulled and mashed for white and red; heated milk for soja. Cider vinegar from France. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. 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

Potatoe cheeses maturing in front of a photography of the Puys (extinct volcanos) from the Auvergne region.
Milk origin Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Farm of Ondet corner, in the mountains of Mont-Dore, France. Cider vinegar from France. No lactic ferments nor starter culture. 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.

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 Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[3], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. - 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.
Mesophilic lactic ferments[4] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[5]. 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 Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[3], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. - 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.
Mesophilic lactic ferments[4] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[5]. Pyramid, “Goat” and “St Félicien” 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[6] 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 Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[3], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. - 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.
Mesophilic lactic ferments[4] and Geotrichum - Brevibacterium culture[5]. “Tomme” (big) and “St Félicien” (medium) round plastic faisselle molds and cheesecloth. Slightly pressed. Unmolded after 1 day. - Washed for 1h, wiped and turned every day for 3 days.
- Washed for 1h, wiped and turned 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 Milk processing and curdling Culture input Molding process Ripening time and process
Cow full milk, unpasteurised, provided by Hoeve de Koeberg[3], an organic farm based next to Sint Geertruid village. - Liquid animal rennet[2] in heated milk (30-35°C).
- 1h curdling, curd directly put in the molds with a ladder.
- Let sit 30min at same temperature.
Geotrichum candidum[7] and Penicillium camemberti culture[8]. “Tomme”, brick and pyramid “faisselle” 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 ladder. 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[3]. 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.

February 2021 | Experimental cheeses in Maastricht

Table of experimentations

This table is used as a tool to monitor the results of an exhaustive list of experiments
Starter culture and other inputs
Milk type Coagulation process Ripening Mesophilic starter culture only (cooked hard cheese) Geotrichum candidum (farm soft cheese) Penicillium candidum (blooming rind cheese) Brevibacterium linens (washed rind cheese) Rhizopus (Tempeh) Aspergillus (Koji) No culture (endemic microbes)
Cow milk Animal rennet 1wks
2wks
4wks
Glucono delta-lactone 1wks
2wks
4wks
Whey vinegar 1wks
2wks
4wks
Goat milk Animal rennet 1wks
2wks
4wks
Glucono delta-lactone 1wks
2wks
4wks
Whey vinegar 1wks
2wks
4wks
Soy milk Glucono delta-lactone 1wks
2wks
4wks
Calcium sulfate (gypsum) 1wks
2wks
4wks
Apple vinegar 1wks
2wks
4wks
Peanut milk Glucono delta-lactone 1wks
2wks
4wks
Calcium sulfate (gypsum) 1wks
2wks
4wks
Heat and potato starch 1wks
2wks
4wks

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Calves (cows offsprings) stomach extract used as a coagulant in traditional cheesemaking.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 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 to reach the farm, then 11km to reach the Jan Van Eyck Academie and store the 8L of milk before to process it (See one of Robin’s morning ride on Strava).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Danisco CHOOZIT MA4002 LYO 5 DCU.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Danisco CHOOZIT PLA mixed rind blend.
  6. 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.
  7. Danisco CHOOZIT Geotrichum candidum GEO17.
  8. Danisco CHOOZIT Penicilium Candidum SAM3 (against Mucor).