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RAW CHEESE RECIPE
CAMEMBERT/CHEVRES STYLE

As at 2005 in Austria 10% of milk is consumed raw while in France about 8% of cheese is made with raw milk. Camembert, created in 1789 by Marie Harelis, made from cow's milk cheese (40 to 45% fat), traditionally 11 cms in diameter by 3-4 cms thick, is a soft-ripened white mold cheese with an edible crust. The texture of this home made raw cheese may vary between that of a firm cream cheese or an extremely hard fetta. To get that distinctive rich creamy camembert texture you may need to mix in additional raw cream with the milk.

If the milk you start with has a fat content of 5% and you start with 2 litres of milk, then by the time you have reduced it to a 400gm block of camembert cheese, the fat content will have increased to about 25%. If you add an additional 250ml of 60% fat cream and reduce the cheese to say 500gm then the fat content will be around 45%.

Without saying, the raw milk and cream needs to be sourced from healthy, organic pasture fed Jersey type cows. Raw milk from cows kept in confinement and fed on grains could lead to serious illness. If you do not have access to good quality raw milk then you may try kefiring the best quality pasteurised milk that you can obtain. If you have made kefir successfully with pasteurized milk before then in theory the kefir cheese should be okay. The following recipes are not perfect but they should at least get you started and remember, as always, that the onus is you to educate yourself regarding any hazards that may be associated with cultured foods.

 

RECIPE FOR KEFIR CHEESE

Two litres of milk will make about 2 blocks of cheese about 8-10 cm in diameter and 2.5cm thick.

  • 2 litres raw milk.
  • 1 cup of kefir grains
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt.
  • Unbleached linen, 600mm square.
  • Colander or hook to hang the linen bag.
  • Cheese moulds 10cm wide x 8 cm deep.
  • Plastic rack.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR KEFIR CHEESE

Kefir the milk then remove the kefir grains.

Line a bowl with a piece of unbleached linen. Tip the kefir into the linen and tie up the corners with a piece of string. Hang the bag of kefir over a bowl from a stick supported by the backs of two chairs, or hang it from a rafter or a suitable hook. Alternatively line a colander with linen and support the colander over a bowl. Leave for 24 hours for the whey to drain through. The result will be cream cheese in the linen and kefir whey in the bowl.. Store some of the kefir whey in a refrigerator ready for use in other recipes.

Untie the linen and mix in Celtic sea salt with the cream cheese then spoon the cream cheese into the cheese moulds. Place the cheese moulds on plastic mesh so that more of the whey can drain away. You may wish to put a cloth under the plastic mesh in order to soak up some of the whey.

After a few days, the cheese should dry enough for it to be removed from the moulds and placed directly upon a plastic rack. Turn the cheese daily.

After culturing the cheese at 20C for about 1 week, wrap it in grease proof paper and transfer it to a 15C refrigerator where it may be left to mature for 2- 3 weeks. If you do not have a 15C refrigerator then just put it in a kitchen refrigerator. Check the cheese every few days to view and smell its progress, and to replace the paper as it soaks up moisture, otherwise the cheese will stick to the paper. Once the cheese is dry enough wrap it in air proof paper (cheese or butter paper if you can find it) to stop further drying. When the cheese is mature then refrigerate at 3C. The cheese is ready to eat when it pleases your taste buds.

 

-------------------------------------

 

RECIPE FOR A CAMEMBERT TYPE CHEESE

Two litres of milk will make about 2 blocks of cheese about 8-10 cm in diameter and 2.5cm thick.

  • 2 litres raw milk.
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt.
  • Unbleached linen, 600mm square.
  • Colander or hook to hang the linen bag.
  • Cheese moulds 10cm wide x 8 cm deep.
  • White mould culture.
  • Plastic rack.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR A CAMEMBERT TYPE CHEESE

Pour the milk into a glass bowl and cover with a cloth held in place with an elastic band. After 24 hours gently stir in the cream that has risen to the top. 24 hours later the milk should have set into curds and whey. This process of naturally souring the milk is known as clabbering.

Line a bowl with a piece of unbleached linen. Gently mix the curds and whey together with a fork then pour it into the linen lined bowl. Tie up the corners with a piece of string. Hang the bag of curd over a bowl from a stick supported by the backs of two chairs, or hang it from a rafter or a suitable hook. Alternatively line a colander with linen and support the colander over a bowl. Leave for 24 hours for the whey to drain through. The result will be cream cheese in the linen and whey in the bowl. You may wish to store some of the whey in a refrigerator ready for use in other recipes, though kefir whey is probably preferable to clabbered whey.

Untie the linen and mix in Celtic sea salt with the cream cheese then spoon the cream cheese into the cheese moulds. Place the cheese mould on plastic mesh so that more of the whey can drain away. You may wish to put a cloth under the plastic mesh in order to soak up some of the whey.

Add a few white mould spores to the top of each of the cheese moulds. After a few days the mould should have grown a little over the top surface of the cheese and the cheese should be dry enough for it to be removed from the moulds and placed directly upon a plastic rack.

The air inside your cheese incubator needs a fairly high humidity to encourage mycelial growth of the camembert culture but also needs to be dry enough for the cheese to dry a little. Turn the cheese daily to encourage the mould to grow on each side of the cheese and to prevent the cheese from sticking to the rack.

I should mention here that some recipes call for clabbering the milk, draining it, then rubbing salt into the rind and then after a few days spraying the blocks of cheese with water that contains some of the camembert culture. The choices that you make will be determined by your resources and by the amount of time that you can devote to your cheese making pursuit.

After culturing the cheese at 20C for about 1 week, wrap it in grease proof paper and transfer it to a 15C refrigerator where it should be left to mature for 2- 3 weeks. If you do not have a 15C refrigerator then just put it in a kitchen refrigerator. Check the cheese every few days to view and smell its progress, and to replace the paper as it soaks up moisture, otherwise the cheese will stick to the paper. Once the cheese is dry enough wrap it in air proof paper (cheese or butter paper if you can find it) to stop further drying. When the cheese is mature then refrigerate at 3C. The cheese is ready to eat when it pleases your taste buds.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Clabber the milk and drain away the whey at 20C. Culture the blocks of cheese at 20C for one week. If possible then transfer the cheese to a 15C refrigerator for a few weeks, otherwise store the cheese in a 3C refrigerator
  • Needless to say that at all times the cheese should be securely covered with a cloth to prevent the entry of insects, especially tiny midges that will lay their eggs, the only evidence being of their entry some two weeks later when you observe brown specks on the surface of the cheese.
  • The longer that you clabber the milk before removing the whey the more the cheese gets a lactic acid flavour.
  • The flavour of the cheese is affected by many variables such as temperature, time, lactic acid, the inoculant, and whether the cheese is wrapped in paper or not.
  • Some French cheese makers spray the cheese with unpasturised beer or wine to add additional flavour and micro-organisms.
  • Some recipes for camembert call for the cheese to be clabbered raw or with a starter culture. It may then be drained through a linen bag, spooned into moulds until dry enough to be removed. It is then dusted with salt and then after 3-4 days when nearly dry it is finally sprayed with a culture of Penicillium candidum. It is then left 3-4 weeks at 52F - 59F for the mycelium to develop before being refrigerated at 45F.
  • Some cheese makers rub Celtic sea salt into the developing rind once or twice as soon as it is removed from the cheese mould. You can also dust salt on the top surface while it is in the mould and I have a feeling that some artisan's may dust salt onto the outside of the mould. The salt should inhibit the growth of microorganisms and hence slow further acid development.
  • To slow the growth of the micro-organisms the cheese is sometimes wrapped in tin foil cheese paper to create an anaerobic environment, and later unwrapped.
  • For the camembert rind you will need to inoculate the cheese with Penicillium candidum spores (white mould) available in small quantities in Australia from CheeseLinks Phone 03 5283 1396. They also supply cheese making baskets and hoops. Penicillium roqueforti is a blue mould that may be used to make a roquefort type cheese.
  • Under ideal temperature and humidity, furry white mould (Penicillium candidum mycelium) will cover the cheese and turn gray as the mould forms spores.
  • Generally you should use fresh mould spores but you may also wish to experiment with using a peice of rind from a camembert cheese as an inoculant.
  • If you want to improve your cheese making then you may wish to invest in a 20 litre thermo-electric cooler available from camping shops or from Dick Smith's electrical stores. Electric eskies can be temperature controlled from about -5 to 25 degrees centigrade.
  • For commercial quantities of cheese making supplies in Australia contact Chris Hansen Laboratories.
  • To see colour pictures of microorganisms and to get scientific information on cheese visit Food Engineering, Lund University in Sweden.
  • Generally soft cheeses are eaten within a few weeks but the FDA recommend that soft cheeses be matured for 60 days to help lessen the risk of pathogens.

CAUTIONS

Raw cheese should only be made from top quality raw milk from organic pasture fed jersey type cows. Please refer to The Untold Story of Milk. By Ron Schmid, ND with foreword by Sally Fallon for more information on raw and pasteurized milk. Remember the onus is on you to educate yourself on how to work with raw dairy products. If you have any doubts about consuming raw dairy products then the very clear advice is, 'don't.

Avoid contamination of the cheese, at all stages from anything which could harbour pathogens, such as raw chicken, meat and fish, feces and also pasteurised dairy products. Always apply the look, smell and taste test. If you have any doubts about the cheese throw it out and start again.

Vegetarian Cheese
You will probably find that non animal rennet has been genetically modified and as such should be avoided. See the heading under vegetarian cheese at Cheeselinks.

 

MEASUREMENTS
1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: C = (F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = C x 1.8 + 32

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