Saturday, July 10, 2010

Assignment: Yogurt Cheese!

Hi all!!  Did you think we left you in the lurch with two semi-tough assignments (gouda & cheddar)?  Not to worry.  For those of you still a bit nervous about making your own cheese...and those who want to forge something between lengthy assignments, we promised we'd keep adding some quicker/beginner cheeses to the mix!!  And this assignment couldn't be any simpler...Yogurt Cheese.  All you need to make it is...can you guess?...yup, yogurt!  Well, yogurt and a few various odds and ends for draining and forming.  This recipe comes from my new favorite book jam it, pickle it, cure it.  Seriously, this book is my new boyfriend.  I can't get enough of it!

The books author, Karen Solomon, says "Yogurt cheese- sometimes called strained yogurt, Greek yogurt, or labneh- is a sharper alternative to cream cheese, but it has a similar consistency and thus can easily take its place atop bagels or toast, stirred into mashed potatoes, or plaing the starring role in cheesecake.  Other attributes of this cheese include its utter simplicity to make, all the health benefits of yogurt, and a tangy personality."

Yogurt Cheese
adapted slightly from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon

1 (32-oz.) container plain yogurt

Instructions: Line a large bowl with a clean, think cotton or linen towel, positioning the middle of the towel in the bottom of the bowl.  Pour the yogurt into its center.  Gather together all 4 corners of the fabric and twist lightly; cloudy whey should be leaking out of the bottom.  Tie the bundle up securely and hang over a large bowl or the sink.  Let hang, undisturbed for at least 8 hours or overnight.

You'll end up w/ ~12 oz. of whey in the bowl and a very thick, spreadable tangy cheese in the cloth.  Transfer cheese to small container w/ lid.  Refrigerate covered for up to 2 weeks.

Lemon Yogurt Cheese: Add 1 tsp. kosher salt and the juice of 1/2 lemon to cheese.
Garlic Yogurt Cheese:  Add 1 clove garlic, minced, and 2 Tbs. fresh chopped dill to cheese.
Chive and Black Pepper Yogurt Cheese:  Add 2 Tbs. fresh chives and several grinds of fresh black pepper to cheese.
Cranberry and Green Onion Yogurt Cheese: Add 1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries and 1 minced green onion to cheese.

Here is Karen herself showing just how easy it is...seriously, the video is under a minute....

So, no excuses okay?  It doesn't get much easier than this...come forge with us!  Feel free to ask any questions about any cheese or process either in the comment section of that cheese assignment or by email. Since this is sooooo easy, it'll be due July 30!

*Also, we're gonna try something new.  We're going to add a linky at the bottom of each assignment post.  If you've made the cheese and posted it, please add the link to the bottom of the appropriate post.  We'll still do roundups for each assignment...this'll just make it easier to submit your cheesy adventures!  Also, please leave a comment once you've linked up so we know to head over and check out what you've done!  But, you are alway welcome to email in your link if you do not have a blog or if you can't figure out the linky.

This linky list is now closed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July's Cheesy Challenge - Cloth-Banded Cheddar!

Image from

That's right, this month's cheesy challenge is Cheddar! Time to roll up our sleeves and conquer that perennial favourite - let's show cheddar who's boss!
From Wiki:
Cheddar cheese has been produced since at least 1170. A pipe roll of King Henry II from that year records the purchase of 10,420 lb at a farthing per pound (£3 per ton). One suggestion is that Romans brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France, where it was adapted. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.
Cheddaring refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar-style cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, then is cut into cubes to drain the whey, then stacked and turned. Strong, extra-mature Cheddar, sometimes called vintage, needs to be matured for up to 15 months. The cheese is kept at a constant temperature often requiring special facilities. As with production of other hard cheese varieties in other regions worldwide, caves provide an ideal environment for maturing cheese; still, today, some Cheddar cheese is matured in the caves at Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge.
The curds and whey are separated using rennet, an enzyme complex normally produced from the stomachs of new-born calves (in vegetarian cheeses, bacterial-, yeast- or mould-derived chymosin is used).
Cloth-Banded Cheddar
adapted from Making Artisan Cheese, Tim Smith

2 gallons whole milk (7.6L)
1/4 tsp mesophilic direct-set culture (2mL)
1/8 tsp calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (60mL)
1 tsp liquid rennet (5mL) diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (60mL)
2 tbsp cheese salt (I just use pickling salt) (30mL)

Heat the milk to 86F (30C), then stir in the starter, cover, and ripen for 45 mins. Add calcium chloride. Maintain 86F (30C), add the rennet to the milk and stir for 1 minute. Cover and let it sit at 86F (30C) for forty minutes or until you can get a clean break. Make one cut with a curd knife to test for a clean break.

Maintaining the target temperature, cut the curds into 1/4 inch (6mm) cubes, and let them rest for 5 minutes. Slowly heat the curds to 100F (38C), stirring occasionally to prevent the curds from matting. This should take thirty minutes. Once you reach the target temperature, hold for an additional thirty minutes, continuing to stir. Let the curds rest for 20 minutes at the target temperature.

Drain the curds into a cheese cloth-lined colander and let them sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. You now have a large block of curd. Cut the block into 1/2 inch (about 1cm) thick strips, and lay then in an 8"x8" (20cm x 20cm) cake pan in a crisscross pattern. cover with a kitchen towel, and put the cake pan into a sink filled with 100F (38C) water, to a depth that comes just to the top of the pan. Make certain that the water does not get into the pan. Keep the curds at 100F (38C). Rotate the curds top to bottom every 15 minutes for two hours. Be sure to drain the whey from the cake pan every time you flip the curds. By the end of the two hours, your strips should be smaller and tough, with a smooth, shiny finish on the sides. Tear your curds into 1/2" (about 1cm) pieces, and put them back into the pan. Cover and let them sit in the pan in the 100F (38C) water for an additional thirty minutes. Stir the curds frequently to keep them from matting.

Blend in the salt by hand, and let the curds rest for 5 minutes at room temperature.

Pour the curds into a 2-lb (900g), cheese cloth-lined mould. Press at ten pounds for 15 minutes.

Take the cheese out of the mould, and peel off the cheese cloth. Turn the cheese over, rewrap it in the cheese cloth, and press at forty pounds for 12 hours. Repeat this procedure, and press at fifty pounds for 24 hours.

Take the cheese out of the mould, and let it air-dry on a cheese board for two to three days. Turn the cheese several times daily to allow for even drying.

Yield - 2lbs. (900g)

Banding Cheese
Cloth banding is the traditional way to form a rind on Cheddar cheese. The advantage to cloth is that the cheese can breathe more effectively than when covered in wax, and proper breathing gives the cheese a richer, fuller flavour. Cloth banding is easy to do, and it gives your cheese an authentic look.

Place the cheese on a clean sheet of cloth, trace the top and bottom of the cheese, and cut out four circles that are each wide enough for the cheese cloth to cover the sides of the cheese. Rub a thin coat of vegetable shortening on the cheese, covering the entire cheese. Lay the cheese cloth on the top and bottom of the cheese, adhering to the shortening. Repeat the process, layering a second coat of shortening between the two layers cloth.
Cover with the second layer of cheese cloth, and rub the fabric smooth to form a solid seal. Ripen at 55F (13C) for three to six months at 80-85% humidity, turning weekly.

Artisan Advice
The process of cheddaring occurs when the cheese maker takes the mass of drained curds, lays them out flat, cuts them into blocks, and then stacks them on top of each other. Over time, the curd blocks will shrink in size and become firm in texture as they continue to lose whey. The end result is a cheese renowned for its flaky texture and pleasantly tangy flavour.

You may have noticed that this is a cheese that takes some time. I won't announce a finish date for the Cheddar at the moment, we will keep in touch in the comments and see how everyone is coming along with this challenge and decide together when we are ready to unwrap our treasures. Get started as soon as you can, so we are all cheddaring together. We will do other dairy challenges in the mean time whilst the cheddar rests.

Don't forget, we are still working on June's Gouda! Using the recipe we provided or your own, email in your gouda challenge by July 31st.

*Not too many of us have pro equipment. I personally use a slow cooker for my heating and tend to use whatever I can find for pressing. I am thinking of hitting up the Home Depot this month to see if I can find some good shapes in the plumbing supply section to make homemade moulds out of. Cheesing can be creative business.
Please let us know any tips and tricks that you have come across in your home cheese-making or if you would like to write a guest post for Forging Fromage. (Involving cheese, cheese-making, or dairy of course!)

Happy Cheesing!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Feta Roundup!

Salty, pungeant, glorious....Feta!  A month ago, I proposed a challenge...a challenge to forge Feta.  Goat's milk feta was the original plan, but many places have extremely  highly-priced goats milk (like my place...Northern Indiana) in the end, whether the milk came from goats, cows, sheep...the important thing was turning into that tangy delight!  Feta had some fabulous results...let's take a look, shall we?

Let's begin with a Rebecca of GrongarBlog...this is her first month forging with us, and she knocked it out of the park!  She was able to use Goats milk...she rigged up an awesome draining contraption in her cool basement, and was met with success.  She says "After it was rinsed, the taste was great: mildly goaty, slightly salty. The texture was firm while still being creamy, and not at all “squeaky” like many store-bought fetas."  I think she's a natural...just look for yourself!
Next up is my original cheesing partner-in-crime, Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies.  Natashya thought she'd have to forge using simply cows milk, "... but at the last minute hubs came home with a little of both. Goat's milk does make for lovely, tangy, and delicate cheese. Cow's milk is cheap. We compromised."  And with delicious results, I might add! Check it out...
Next up is Alicia of Foodycat.  She was also able to use goats milk for her feta, which "was a success"...brain-shaped and all wink, wink.  She says "I jumped the gun a bit - we ate the first half of the cheese a day early because I just couldn't resist. We had it in a Greek-ish salad of cucumber, tomato, avocado and red onion, dressed with oregano, basil, olive oil and white wine vinegar. It was delicious! Not too salty, not mushy, not too crumbly, with just the right hint of goaty tang."  Nice.  See....
And bringing it all home is me (Heather) of girlichef.  Now, although I proposed this challenge, I ran sorely behind.  As a matter of fact, I haven't even posted it yet because I'm in the midst of making it RIGHT THIS MINUTE!  *UPDATE~ Okay, even though I'm late to the party I like to make a fashionable entrance, I've finally linked up my Feta!  I, too, used cow milk because I wasn't ready to mortgage my house to obtain the goat milk.  I loved the final result...salty, tangy, feta-ey!!  Since I had a few people ahem who worked through the kinks before me, I used Natashya's adaptations to make mine.

Everybody did a fabulous job forging Feta this month...thanks so much for joining us, ladies!!  I'm looking forward to Natashya's soon-to-be-announced challenge...and don't forget, we're still working on forging Gouda!  Please feel free to forge with us...jump in!