Today in class, one of the students brought two of her cheeses because she will not be there next week, when we all bring in our homework for final grading.
She told us that something strange had happened to her cheeses: they dried out and became hard. We had a taste of them and they were really good, but they definitely were not Camembert-like. More like a bloomy chevre.
Another person in the class mentioned the same thing had happened to his cheeses, so I thought I would check in my babies when I arrived home.
I had a thin cheese that bloomed just like the other ones, and I thought I would open this one first. It was one of the refrigerator cheeses, and it was wrapped in paper on May 19. It felt soft to the touch, so I was wondering what I would find under the paper.
My oh my…
It was ooey and gooey in there! It was like melted cheese! A very soft, pleasantly salty and tangy paste, lactic, with a nice acidity, and straight forward, but not boring. I look forward to seeing what the other cheeses are like! This is all so exciting!
All the baby cheeses are now wrapped and ready for the last week and a half of their aging cycle. I really look forward to seeing the difference between the cheeses that spent time in the cooler versus the ones that were in the refrigerator, and also the ones that were washed and wrapped in cider. I am also really looking forward to tasting those cheeses!
Things are slowing down on the Camembert affinage front… Today, the first two fridge cheeses migrated to cheese paper. The remaining three should get there at some point this week. Stay tuned!
Today, the five cheeses that have lived in my cooler for the last two weeks have been wrapped in cheese paper and moved to the refrigerator. They will spend the next two weeks there, finishing their aging process slowly.
Cheese paper is a special type of paper that has two micro perforated layers. The inner layer is micro perforated and lets the cheese breathe and while the other prevents excess moisture from escaping. This is pretty nifty and if you are serious about cheese, you can buy that paper to wrap the cheese you buy at your cheesemonger. Formaticum is a good source of cheese paper, and they ship to Canada (their products are also sold at some Canadian stores).
I could have left some of my cheeses in the cooler, to see how they age differently, but I must admit to ice-making-and-switching fatigue. An electrical cooler would have come in handy here… That’s for sure. I’m still glad I saw the difference in blooming speeds between both environments. That was really cool. Lindsay seems to continue aging her cheeses in her cooler. Courageous and dedicated Lindsay!
The bloom growth has been pretty wild in the cooler:
In the refrigerator, things are evolving slowwwwwwly… So much so that most cheeses are nowhere near ready to be wrapped. I wonder how much longer it will take. Want to bet?
My cheeses were turned over again last night, which explains sparse bloom on the refrigerator ones (the other side has a smooth bloom throughout). The cooler cheeses bloom very fast, and I should be able to wrap them in cheese paper tonight. I have a very sophisticated rope system to distinguish which cheese was wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in cider (one piece of rope) and which one was rubbed/washed in cider (two pieces of rope). Whatever works, eh?
Cheeses got turned over last night. Tricky to turn the cooler cheese; they had stuck to the skewers. The lining at the bottom of my containers is blooming too! Wondering if I should wash it and start afresh or just let it be. After my temperature regulation problems I hesitate to change things around. I might just prop the cheeses higher so they aren’t so close to the lining.
Hard cider washes and wrappings continue daily. I think I will stop at the end of the week, having given it a full week of flavouring.
In other news, cheeses are not the only thing blooming in my life right now. It’s cheery blossom time in Toronto! So pretty to wake up to this…
Not much change since yesterday, except that I now know what that yellowish spot was – whey. I just rubbed it off.
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.
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.
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.
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.