OK this cheese grater is from the oldest Italian restaurant in San Jose (Paolos)and this grater has been keeping pasta loving folks in Granna, Parm,Crotin,Pecorino etc etc for almost a century. If only this baby could talk.....so just enjoy the pictures of a working piece of historic food art while I wax on about the essentials of Mesophillic Starters and a cheese to make with it....(yes mom I knmow never end a sentance with a preposition blah blah blah)
MESOPHILIC STARTER CULTURE
There are a ton of variatals of cultures to make a ton of different types of cheeses, yet all are either from two catergories. 1. Mesophilic the low temp lover (below 102 degrees) 2. Thermophilic(heat lover hence the THERMO prefix) Soft cheeses in general are in need of the Meso Culture and today I'm whippin some GERVAISE today so Meso is the word......
Now ofcourse you can ring up New England Cheese Supply and they will gladly send you some freeze dried packes to keep in the freezer for your cheese making whims but that is not fun and to make your own will give a better depth of flavour depending on how far you let the culture set.
2 cups of FRESH store bought Cultured Buttermilk.( different from the whey left over after a butter churnin party)
2. Let the 2 cups of buttermilk reach room temperature (70 degrees F/21 degrees C).I put mine on top of the ice box it's warm n cozy up there.
3. Then allow the buttermilk to ripen for about 6-8 hours. (Store bought buttermilk does not have a high enough concentration of bacteria to serve as a starter culture without ripening.)
4. The resulting buttermilk will be much thicker and sour then what you started with. It should have the consistency of fresh yogurt, if it doesn't let it sit a few more hours.
5. Pour this culture into a full sized CLEAN ice cube tray and put into your ice box. As with all steps of cheesemaking, cleanliness will save your ass to wash up.
6. Once frozen, remove the cubes and put into a CLEAN sealed container or plastic freezer bags. It is a good idea to label the container and date.
7. The resulting ice cubes are each 1 ounce of mesophilic starter.
8. Add these cubes (thawed) to your recipes as required. The cubes will keep for about one month.
To make more starter simply thaw one cube and add into 2 cups of fresh milk. Mix thoroughly with a fork or a whisk. Allow the milk/culture to stand at room temperature (70 degrees F/21 degrees C) for 16-24 hours or until the consistency of fresh yogurt. Then follow from step 5.
This is the easiest and greenest way to go about culture needs. Ordering and having it sent takes paper, electricity, petrol and the carbon footprint is so not worth the fun you can have doing it yourself especially since you have to power and control to set how much influence your culture can have on your finished product.
GERVAISE CHEESE (BAG CHEESE)
WTH? you ask is Gervaise..well I'll tell ya. This easy, minimal equiptment fresh cheese come from the Cote D'or region of France and what else hails from the GOLDEN DOOR? Wine baby lots n lots of world class wine. That being said where there is wine being produced there is certainly Goat and Sheeps milk cheeses to follow. Gervaise is similar to Neufchatel but Normandy has it's own twist with less fat content and Gervaise to me when you bag it for a bit longer has a lovelyness I can't resist almost Chevre esque but not. Gervaise has a longer history of a peasant cheese that didn't get much gormand respect until recently when us wacked out Turophiles found this to be easy, yet complex at the same time....Kinda like moi. Oh and I can get Boy Racer to do anything if I give him some on a hunk of crusy bread and my Spring Onion Jam...
DAY ONE ...YES DAY ONE
2 2/3C. Whole goats Milk
1 drop liquid rennet & 2T. water (enzyme from stomach lining of Kid or Thistle; in mid Evil times in France, Italy they set cheeses with snail phlegm...really)
1 1/3C. Goat cream (sorry you gotta find a goat farm or get a cream seperater) If unavail you can use Cows cream. But try to find it. In Bay area you have a ton of resources.
2oz or 2 cubes of Meso starter defrosted in a sterile glass cup or bowl.
Mix the dairy together in a sterile bowl and whisk. (sterilize all equipt before hand with hot water and 1T of bleach to gallon of water)
Warm to 65F add the defrosted culture.. Mix Mix Mix
Add the drop of rennent to the water before introducing to the dairy rave goin on .
Add to dairy and stir gently for five minutes. STOP Stirring if milk begins to coagulate.
Let her set for twenty four hours in a draft free warm area covered in cheese cloth to avoid bugs,pets or dust from contaminating the curds o love.
Now the cheese should be pulled from the sides of pan and the solids should be a mass with watery whey on the edges. jiggle this puppy and a Jell-o jingle will play in your head. Basta the curd has set. waka waka waka pass the Bourbon please...
You can either make one large mass and ladel into a Chinoise(cone shaped collander or China cap us cheffys call it) with a layer of sterile cheeses cloth lining the Chinoise. between ladels sprinkle sea salt or herbs or nothing but atleast salt it will raise the flavour bar. DO NOT toss the drained whey please. You can feed your garden, a kitty, boil potatoes, pasta or make a batch of Ricotta (twice cooked) waste makes hjaste and I have not time for that. Back to curds while draining you might need to get your sterile spatula and scrape down sides of Chiniose. Drain for up to six hours depending on how "tight"you want your cheese.
Me on the other hand as you see in the above photo I use cheese baskets 10oz size for easier to store,serve and handle plus I love the basket weave shape after. so I do same as above but in the small baskets.
go on get cooking.......