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Cheese Cellar Porn

12.08.10

You take milk. You make cheese. And you stick it in your cellar for months. Food preservation methods like this astonish me. My cheese cellar is low-tech and passively cooled and humidified. No gear. No electronics. No energy consumption. Old-school. Currently holds 90+% humidity and temp is a bit low at 5-6C.

I took these photos because Holly asked me to. She was curious to see the current state of the microflora my cellar endowed these cheeses with. Both are goat, one her ‘Tomme’, and one her ‘Farmer’s’. You can see what they looked like nearly two months ago here. Every time I handle theses cheeses it brings me immense joy, not only because of the soft, beautiful, mushroomy aromas they offer, but also because I never imagined I would have such treasures in my home. Both cheeses were washed yesterday.

The next challenge I will face on this front is how to tackle a cheese – how to seal the remainder once it’s cut into and/or how to get through that much cheese. Apparently cheeses like this freeze well, although that will be my last method of choice, simply as it seems I’d be killing the cheese’s life, rather than prolonging it for my satisfaction. Sounds kinda mean either way when I put it like that…

Tomme: a great brain-like pattern on the orange-on-white top

Tomme: An interesting lip on the edges

Tomme: Wide shot. You can see it's lopsided in this shot.

Farmer's: Shot of the palette of colors on the surface

Farmer's: brown-grey in side grooves, orangy-white top

Farmer's: wide shot

Holly’s comments on the state of the cheese: Your Farmers looks great! Similiar to mine, but mine has a bit more different flora going on in the ripening room so a bit more colour. I dry brushed this batch after the first month which allows different molds to attach (less washing which tends to control the surface flora). Your brainy surface on the Tomme is the Geo at work…. Washing more frequent at the beginning will eliminate this. I add Geo, B-linens and Mycodore (ripening agents) to my Tomme with the bacterial culture but only B-linens to my Farmers. Geo is great for preparing the surface for other molds but left unchecked can develope the wrinkly surface (soft rind but hard cheeses don’t get slip skin usually). Other than that, your Tomme looks just like mine and the rind will stiffen up!”

11 Responses

  1. Chapeau Monsieur.

    Can’t wait for the images when you cut into them.

  2. CH – Me neither!

  3. And what did she say about the mold on the cheese from your last post? I am awaiting my invitation to the cheese opening party! JUST KIDDING. GREAT WORK. Fantastic learning experience.
    :)
    Valerie

  4. Barry says:

    With regards to what to do with that much cheese aside from freezing unused portions. I have a couple suggestions… (1) section it and give as gifts… (2) Would it be possible to section the entire block, and then fully immerse the sections in that wax you see cheese in sometimes? I don’t know how porous that wax is, but it seems like a possible means for halting the ripening process and dividing that large wheel into smaller sections. You could probably then store them back in your cellar until you’re ready for them. Just a thought…

  5. Kevin says:

    Barry – your ideas are good and waxing is currently my top option, aside from simply consuming it via sharing. I have to pick some up online. My understanding is that I’d have to wax the cut face only – the rest can remain as-is, as opposed to dunking the whole piece. I’ve also had someone suggest bee’s wax, which seems like a good idea.

  6. Judy Z. says:

    Your cheese looks fantastic. Are you considering making the cheeses smaller on future projects? That way you could cut into and use in a reasonable length of time. Or would they not keep as long?
    Do you sterilize your hands somehow before you touch the cheeses so you don’t put molds on that you don’t want? OR is that just the typical product of commercial cheeses?

  7. Judy – I don’t make the cheese, they were given to me by Holly Gale of Smoky Valley Goat Cheese. Despite the constraints, having a gloriously large wheel of cheese is not truly a problem, is it? I wash my hands just as I would for any other food prep. The cheeses are inoculated with molds intended to become dominant, and they do. It’s pretty cool.

  8. Greg says:

    mmm… fromage fractals

  9. Hey what recipe did you follow for the tomme? I’m a bit new to cheesemaking, and am good at the simple cheeses like feta, moz, chevre. But aged cheeses… I haven’t found a book I like. My husband loves tomme, and would love to be able to make some once my goats freshen again in the spring.

  10. VGC – I actually don’t make cheese at all yet. These cheeses are are from Smoky Valley Goat Cheese, and if you got in touch with Holly [just google their website], she may be able to help you out.

  11. [...] it all. It also made me feel tremendously wealthy – wealth having arrived at my door in many forms over this past year. No manual labor for me for at least a few days. I [...]

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