The countless cheeses–each made with only milk, rennet, bacterial cultures and salt–reflect the diversity of the contexts in which they are produced. Cheese offers a rich, “living” connection to the world. An English cheesemaker might make a firm-bodied, mild-flavoredÂ cheddar; whereas a cheesemaker from Italy would probably make a hard, dry parmesan, requiring two years to develop its sharp flavor. A cheesemaker from Southern France may make Roquefort, a cheese with a piquant flavor and white curd speckled with bluegreen mold. Steeped in tradition and regional nuance and grounded in ecological principles and biological science–yet natural and intuitive–cheesemaking is equally technical and artistic. From culture propagation to rennet coagulation to affinage, hone your palate and expand your knowledge with these takeaway tenets.
1. Culture. Warm your milk to the right temperature, add the right mix of microbes (bacteria, yeasts and molds) and let them do their thing. bonus: Sous vide the cheese for precise control of the temperature.
2. Coagulate. Add rennet and wait until the milk turns into a gel-like network. Use a medicine dropper.
3. Cut. Using a long knife, slice the firm network into morsels of the right size and shape. note: The smaller the initial pieces, the drier (and more ageable) the cheese will be. And vice versa.
4. Stir. Mix the curds to expel moisture and increase firmness. A slotted spoon does the trick.
5. Heat. If you’re making a hard, aged cheese, cook the curds to make them even sturdier. A kitchen thermometer is recommended.
6. Drain. Remove the liquid whey (the watery part of milk) from the solid curd by straining. You’ll need a colander and cheesecloth.
7. Form and press. Add your curds to the right type of form and, if necessary, apply weight to expel more whey. Buy cheese forms from a supplier or repurpose plastic containers. You’ll also want to get a draining mat.
8. Salt. If you haven’t already mixed it into the curd before molding, rub salt on the outside of the wheel or place your cheese into a brine solution.
9. Age. Manipulate the development of your final product with the right blend of temperature, moisture and time.
CHEESE DOESN’T LIKE TO BE TOO COLD.
The perfect temperature varies depending on whom you ask, but usually ranges between 40* F and 53* F. Most home refrigerators are colder than this. As a solution, Signature Kitchen Suite has introduced the 36-inch built-in French door refrigerator with a five-mode convertible middle drawer that has distinct temperature zones for preserving deli-worthy fare at the correct temperature. The ingenious drawer’s temperature zones also include chilled wine, meats and seafood, beverage and freezer.
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