Sticky date cheese

NZ Lifestyle Block - - A Garden Under Lock And Key - In­gre­di­ents

8 litres whole ‘farm­house’ milk ● (not ho­mogenised) ½ tsp mesophilic cul­ture ½ tsp cal­cium chlo­ride 0.7ml mi­cro­bial ren­net or ● ½ tsp calf ren­net 100ml cooled, boiled wa­ter 20g or 1½ tbsp plain salt date mix (recipe be­low left)

How to make 1

Warm the milk in a bain-marie to 30°C over 15 min­utes. Sprin­kle over the mesophilic bac­te­rial starter (I use Flora Dan­ica) and stir slowly for 1 minute to mix in. The dried cul­ture will not com­pletely dis­ap­pear and will look like freck­les on the top of the milk for a while. 2 Place a sani­tised lid on the pot and leave it to stand for 40 min­utes. Main­tain the tem­per­a­ture at 30°C – add a cup of boil­ing wa­ter to the outer pot of the bain­marie if it falls. 3 Di­lute the cal­cium chlo­ride in 50ml of cooled, boiled wa­ter, then add to the milk and stir gen­tly to com­bine for 30 sec­onds. Di­lute the ren­net (I use Han­ni­lase mi­cro­bial ren­net) in 50ml of cooled, boiled wa­ter and stir gen­tly to com­bine for 1 minute. Put the lid on the pot and leave undis­turbed for 40 min­utes to set. Again, main­tain the tem­per­a­ture at 30°C and add a cup of boil­ing wa­ter to the outer pot of the bain-marie if it cools. 4 Check that it is well set – it should look like a milk jelly – then use a long-bladed knife to cut di­rectly across the mid­dle of the pot, right to the bot­tom. You should have sharp edges to the cut curd with a lemon juice-coloured whey just show­ing in the cut. If the edges of the cut are too soft and floppy and close over, check the milk tem­per­a­ture, warm it up to 30°C if re­quired by adding hot wa­ter to the outer pot of the bain-marie, and leave it an ex­tra 5-10 min­utes, then try again. 5 Once set, cut into 5mm-wide strips. Cut boldly in­stead of ten­ta­tively here, un­til you end up with small pea-sized cubes. If you can’t reach the curds at the bot­tom, bring them to the top with a sani­tised spoon and cut them to size. The curd is very soft at this stage so be very slow and gen­tle when mov­ing the curds to the top. 6 Leave to rest for 5 min­utes to help to firm the curd a lit­tle. 7 Use a sani­tised cup or la­dle to re­move enough whey to show the top of the curd. 8 Warm the curds and whey to 31°C over the next 60 min­utes. This is a tiny in­crease in heat so I just add a lit­tle hot wa­ter to the out­side pot ev­ery 15 min­utes or so. Stir very gen­tly ev­ery 5 min­utes to stop the curds clump­ing and to ex­pel more whey. 9 Once it has reached 31°C, cover and leave for a fur­ther 40 min­utes, again main­tain­ing the tem­per­a­ture and adding hot wa­ter to the outer pot of the bain­marie if re­quired. 10 Af­ter 40 min­utes, the curds should be firm and rub­bery. Pour off the whey – put a large, sani­tised colan­der in the sink and pour the curds through it very gen­tly. Be care­ful as the pot will be heavy when you lift it off the stove. Put the drained curds back in the pot. 11 Add the warm date mix­ture and stir through. Leave to sit for 5 min­utes, keep­ing it warm – re­place the lid, and wrap the pot in a towel or add hot wa­ter to the outer pot of the bain-marie. 12 Drain the whole mix­ture through the sani­tised colan­der again. Re­turn the drained mix­ture to the pot. 13 Pre­pare your small moulds by lin­ing them with ster­ilisedised cheese­cloth – damp, boiled, open weaveave dish­cloths are a good al­ter­na­tive. Get your­self ready for the next two steps as youu don’t want to waste time - the curds need to quickly go into the mould and you need to start the press­ing ng process while they are still warm. rm. 14 Scoop the curds urds into the pre­pared mould, d, pulling up the lin­ing as you go so there are no wrin­kles. Cover your fol­lower with an­other piece ece of sani­tised cloth and place on top of the curds. Press us­ingng a 1kg weight for 30 min­utes. 15 Re­move the cheese from the mould. Re­move­move the cloth and use it to re­line ine the­mould.the mould. The cheese shoul­duld stay in one piece at this s stage, but be gen­tle as the curd­srds will be only just knit­ted to­gether. ether. Turn over the cheese and place it back into the lined mould, re­place the cloth-cov­ereded fol­lower and press at 2kg for 12 hours. 16 Re­move the cheese from the mould. The out­side should be closed and smooth with no holes show­ing. If it is still show­ing some holes or rough ar­eas, re­peat Step 15, but in­crease the weight to 3kg and press for 3 hours.

Un­mould your cheeses and sprin­kle half the salt on top, then turn it over and re­peat with the other half. Place the salted cheese on a sani­tised bak­ing tray or wooden board and air-dry at room tem­per­a­ture (ap­prox­i­mately 20°C) for two days, turn­ing it once in this time. The out­side should be­come fairly dry, firm and bright yel­low. Pro­tect from bugs and the el­e­ments us­ing a mesh food tent.

Cure at 12°C and 85% hu­mid­ity for a month in your cur­ing place. It can then be eaten, but the flavour im­proves af­ter two months, and is even bet­ter af­ter a year. n



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