Bloom watch – May 13, 2014

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Not much change since yesterday, except that I now know what that yellowish spot was – whey. I just rubbed it off.

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Bloom watch – May 12, 2014

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Not much to report this morning, except for a small yellowish spot that will be monitored closely. Not sure what this is or if it is good or bad.

On the cooler front, I made the mistake of emptying the water that had accumulated in the last week from the ice melting and this messed up my temperature regulation. I spent the day yesterday monitoring temperature, which kept creeping. I now have water again in the bottom and hope this will help keeping the temperature steady in the cooler.

On the humidity front, I think the hard cider soaked cheeses really contribute to keeping the atmosphere nice and damp. There is a good condensation build-up on the inside of my containers.

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Playing around with the babies

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It has now been one week since ehte baby Camemberts came home with me from school and Lindsay, who is playing with her Camemberts well, told me it was high time that I start experimenting with them. She is using a bourbon brine on hers. I am using straight apple hard cider.

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When I came back from cheese class yesterday, I proceeded to patting down the bloom and turning my cheeses. I brushed one of each group with cider, and wrapped another one with a cheesecloth imbibed with cider.

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Some of the cheeses had stuck to the skewers they were on, and I lost part of some of the rinds that had formed. This was disappointing, but on the other hand I was excited to see that the texture of the cheeses had changed underneath the rind. They were creamy! I am quite amazed at all the chemical changes that are happening… I know full well it is purely chemical, but it feels quite magical as well.

Bloom watch – May 8, 2014

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So, yesterday it was time to turn the cheeses for the second time.

The cooler cheeses had grown such a nice white fuzzy coat that it was sad to hide it. But the other side needs to grow bloom too! So turned they got. A bit of bloom stuck to the chopsticks the cheeses are propped on, and I hope this will not be detrimental.

I have now managed to control temperature in the cooler. Re-freezing melted ziplock bags and putting new ice in as necessary. This usually happens twice a day and I manage to keep a 12-14 C temperature in there. There is a lot of water in the bottom of the cooler by now, so I’m not too worried about humidity levels for now.

On the refrigerator front, things are much much slower… The phrase moving at a glacial pace is starting to make sense…

I am currently focussing on getting an even bloom on all/most of my cheeses before I start toying with them with flavours. Now debating between cranberry or apple juice.

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First turning of the Camemberts

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So… It’s been three days since the Camemberts came home with me… Since then, I’ve been busy monitoring temperature in the cooler and replenishing ice as it melts (oh the luxury of refrigerators!). It is not hard work, but it definitively requires attention.

This week, I will be turning the cheeses three times to allow for even blooming and avoid them sticking to the surface they are sitting on. Next week, turning will happen twice, and it will happen once a week thereafter, until I bring my finished cheeses to school for evaluation.

In exciting news, my little ones are showing their first signs of fuzz! This is all very exciting!

My observations so far are as follows:
– warmer environment makes for faster blooming
– cooler environment makes for a more even, albeit slower, blooming
– regardless of temperature, bloom is cool!

I will turn the cheeses again in two days, at which point I think I will be able to wrap some of them with cheesecloth imbibed in apple juice to see how/if it affects the ripening. In the meantime, I will have to figure out a way to monitor moisture in my containers.

Ten little camemberts from school

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So this is it. I came back from cheese school today with 10 baby camemberts that I will age for the next four weeks. We made them last week when we visited Monforte Dairy. They are sheep-milk ash-rind camemberts. This week, Ruth, our instructor for the Cave-aged Cheese course Lindsay and I are enrolled in, and the owner of Monforte Dairy, brought them over so that we can nurture them at home.

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For the next four weeks, I will be keeping a journal of my adventures in the art of affinage. Right now, though, I’m rather nervous about this whole adventure.

I expected to come home with one little baby cheese and ended up with 10. This meant that I needed to go shopping for a bit of “aging equipment”, namely containers, thermometers and “propping up” equipment. A quick visit to Target resulted in the basic things I will need.

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My cheeses will spend the night in the fridge and tomorrow I will transfer half of them to a cooler filled with ice, which I plan to replenish every day for the next four weeks. The temperature in my fridge is 5 C and I should aim for 12-14 C… Hopefully the cooler filled with ice will be closer to my target temperature. I look forward to seeing how both groups of cheeses age. I might also experiment with flavours but for now I aim for keeping the cheeses alive… To be continued…

About this blog

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In the fall of 2013, I embarked on the adventure of becoming a professional fromager. Invited by my very good friend and fellow food-adventurer Lindsay of kitchenoperas.com to enrol in the Introduction to Cheese course at our local college, I did not have to think about it twice. I signed up. And I haven’t looked back since. This blog will follow me as I pursue my cheese education and will include tasting notes of the exciting cheeses I discover along the way.