Blessed are the Cheese Makers

November 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

I thought a little Monty Python would be an appropriate end my cheese making week. This clip brings to mind another brilliant Life of Brianism: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.  I should have thought to hum that song to myself when I was in the midst of my failed Camembert experiment yesterday afternoon.
That, my friends, is the sad result of unset curd being poured into cheese moulds only to fall straight out onto the counter. I had even given the curd and extra hour to set. One would think after 4 hours of cheese making that I would curse the day I ever thought to make cheese. Instead I thought about what I still might do about it.
My husband helped me pour the curds and whey into a large cheesecloth so I could try to retain the stronger curd to pour into the moulds. When I visited Haystack creamery, they mentioned how slippery the bags of curd and whey were and I got to experience this firsthand. As I was trying to re-position the cheesecloth I lost one corner of it and half of the remaining mixture went into the sink and down my front side.

There was a little cursing voice in my head telling me to just dump the rest in the sink and be done with it. No, wait, that was my husband’s voice as he looked over my shoulder at the mess I was making of our kitchen. I can’t say I blame him as it was pretty gross and more than a little disconcerting.

I continued on and preserved just enough curd to fill one cheese mould. I popped on the lid of the container and let it continue to drain overnight. That sad, lonely container is my attempt to look on the bright side of life.
I don’t have high hopes for this round of cheese, but in a way the failed experience makes me want to learn more about cheese making than if it had all turned out perfectly. I think one of the important aspects in learning a craft is learning from your failure along the way.

I immediately started scouring the cheese forums to understand what might have happened to prevent the curd from setting. It is either the milk I used, contamination or old/not enough rennet to coagulate properly. I believe it was the rennet in this case. The thing about cheese making is that it is all about a number of variables you can manipulate until you get the result you want. I like that aspect of trial and error and experimentation.

I’m just feeling good about the fact in one week I’ve learned enough about cheese making that I even know what set curd looks like and what a clean break is (Thanks to Jimmy). It’s given me a much greater appreciation for what goes into mastering artisanal cheese.

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