Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New cheesemaking equipment

I really can't say enough about Glengarry Cheesemaking Supply out of Quebec. They have the BEST offerings in terms of moulds, rennet and cultures. Margaret Morris' book, the CheeseMaker's Manual, is now in my library and is fast becoming my favorite book of all-time. We lived in Massachusetts for several years and I attented a cheesemaking workshop by Ricki Carroll of New England Cheesemaking Supply in Ashfield, MA. I have her book, part of the class. I reference it for pastuerization temps, yogurt guidelines and have relied heavily on it up to this point. It's great for the 1 gallon parties, while Morris is for the 3-5 gallon group. The irony here is that Morris' book was less expensive through Ricki's company.

In my opinion, they are in two different worlds, with separate audiences. Ricki is for novices and mozzarrella kit gifts, while Morris offers an economical source for more experienced cheesemakers. While I respect both audiences, I feel like making a batch of cheese should not require it's own sealed package of starter, which is what Ricki offers. This would result in more predictable batches from one day to another, but is not feasible when you make cheese as often as we do. One mesothermophilic bacteria culture from Glengarry has lasted for more than a year and variability is only as big as you make it by imperfect measuring. Personally, Ricki is eccentric and I believe she learned very quickly how much more profitable it was to sell reagents and information than it was to actually make cheese for sale. I remember chatting with her about my profession. It was more of a go-around-the-room and say what you do chat. She was immediately put off by my declaration of being a biochemist. I think it offended her somehow on a very personal level, as though it was counter to whatever it is she subscribes to. On the other hand, I've never met Morris.

All I can say is that I feel like we have graduated from the Ricki department into the Morris club. We purchased more moulds, mesotherm bacteria, and penicillium/geotricum bacteria, for mold-ripened cheeses. The top picture is our 1.5-2 kg Kordova mould, which is for pressing hard cheeses. It has its own mesh lining, so wrapping the cheese with cheesecloth is unnecessary. Cleaning should be a snap and the cheese won't be wrinkled by the cloth. I think it will also make pressing without an actual cheese press much easier. I'll just throw a board and weight on top of the Kordova lid. The bottom picture is of round bottom moulds for chevre, on the left, and camembert, on the right. We also ordered a plastic mesh draining mat for aging the mold-ripened cheeses. I feel like we're getting ahead of ourselves here, but then kidding is just around the corner.

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