Monday, July 25, 2011
I finally stopped eating one of our recently made bloomy-rind cheeses called St. Maure just long enough to take a picture. We've been making this cheese for awhile now providing ample opportunity to make mistakes, repeat mistakes and finally I feel comfortable with it. When I get it right, the young cheese (two weeks after production) is a little firmer than brie with an excellent clean flavor and no hint of bitterness. At this stage, I feel a little salt really enhances the taste and we devour it on crackers. As it ages wrapped in the fridge, the texture becomes soft until it is runny and it begins to develop an acidic bite that most people shy away from. We sampled one at 8 weeks and despite its pungent smell the taste was still wonderful.
The mistake I've made with this one is letting condensation drip onto the aging cheese from the fridge's upper coil. It's not noticeable at first, always dripping when I'm not looking/thinking, but then I start to notice that the rind is smooth and yellow, instead of furry and white, and it is LOOSE. The cheese becomes gooey between it's body and rind and flipping tends to tear the rind. Despite all of this, the cheese is still yummy but definitely lacking in appearance and more likely to become contaminated. I keep the aging cheese dryer by inverting a plastic tub over it, between the cooling coil and cheese so condensation drips are diverted away. Any moisture originating from the cheese drips/evaporates away from beneath, since the rounds age on a plastic mesh mat supported by a standard plastic coated wire fridge shelf. It sounds way more complicated than it really is. Don't let the smell fool you, this type of cheese is divine and it's only a little more work than chevre.