Friday, December 14, 2012

Mold-ripened cheese success

If you've been around for awhile, you might remember some of my failures in mold-ripened cheese ... like this one ... and this one. They didn't all turn out so badly. One was actually good enough to take to a party, although it didn't look like any mold-ripened cheese that anyone had ever seen. It was at least tasty, and it didn't look like a total wreck.

In October, I attended Jim Wallace's cheesemaking class in Massachusetts, and one of the cheeses on the agenda was Camembert. When I got home, I could hardly wait to try out the ideas I'd learned. And here is the lovely, delicious result!

What was the difference? Well, I had always failed in the affinage -- or aging. I had read somewhere that you could not age a mold-ripened cheese in the same cave with non-mold-ripened cheeses, and unfortunately I believed it. So, I had tried all sorts of crazy ideas ... like aging in my refrigerator (which was obviously too cold, and I knew that, but there was a book that said it would work, so I tried) and aging in a picnic cooler with ice, which meant I had to remember to replenish ice twice daily. I also tried aging in another frig without the proper thermostat control, thinking I could remember to keep turning the refrigerator on and off to keep the proper temperature. Geez! I really can't believe I tried all those things!

Jim ages his mold-ripened cheeses in his regular cheese cave, but he puts them in plastic food storage containers with a cheese mat in the container for drainage and air circulation under the cheese. It is so ridiculously simple that I'm kicking myself for not figuring that out sooner! But as they say, better late than never. And I'm thrilled to be able to make delicious homemade mold-ripened cheese now!


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