Finally, finally, finally, I’m beginning to cut into my cheeses!
My plan is to share all my taste test results here; as for the actual recipes: only after we figure out which ones we like best and I’ve locked down my method will I post a recipe. (Well, unless it’s a kicker cheese. Then I might just go ahead and post it.)
Note: To track methods, notes, and results, I number my cheeses. Thus, the numbers. Obviously.
Cotswold (Number 8)
This one’s probably going to make it into my recipe files in short order. It was the one my local cheese coach recommended I start with, and it was the first one I cut in to.
Cotswold is like a Double Gloucester, for those of you who know what a Double Gloucester is (they’re both from England and in the cheddar family), but with the addition of dried onion, dried garlic, and dried chives. Minus the garlic, Cotswold is known as a ploughman’s cheese which, apparently, is a type of cheese that’s served on a ploughman’s breakfast platter which is an English pub “thing,” or so I’ve been told. Cotswold takes only four weeks to age, which makes it a great starter cheese.
As for the cheese? A solid five stars. Soft and dry, and a little creamy. Salty and flavorful. Not crumbly, and no funk or acidic tang. Just, a straight-up fabulous cheese. I was so pleased and proud, I cackled with glee for days: I made cheese! I MADE CHEESE.
We ate it sliced, with crackers, mostly, and shared it with friends and, before I knew it, it was gone. I never even got around to cooking with it to see how it melted.
I have two more Cotswolds aging now, and I hope to make several more soon. With this one, I want to be well-stocked.
Colby (Number 10)
I don’t know what to say except: it’s actually a colby!
I mean, seriously: how cool is that?
There are little holes throughout, and it’s pliable and flexible, with the typical Colby chew. It’s soft and a little bit buttery, with a mild flavor. I did detect an ever-so-slight — and I mean slight slight; I’m being UBER picky — tang which, I’ve read, means it just needs to age more, so I packaged up the second half and am aging it for another month or so. Can’t wait to see how the extra time changes the flavor…or not.
I did make grilled cheese with this one. The cheese bubbled and melted like a pro.
And I grated a bunch to go with taco salad. It tastes like the real deal. No, it is the real deal.
the little bits of white mold on the outside were both flavorless and harmless
This one is a crowd pleaser and good for cooking, so lots more Colby coming up.
Dry Jack (Number 11)
This one isn’t ready until March, but since I detected a bit of orange mold on the edge, I decided it was time to vacuum seal it. And since it was so big, I had to cut it in half to pack it. And since I had to cut it in half, I had to taste it.
It was sweet and mild, with a slight bite from the peppercorn, cacao nib, and coffee rub. The cheese was firm, solid the whole way through, and almost “glassy” looking, kinda like Swiss cheese. The flavor was good — not offensive or bad at all — but not exciting.
Come March, I’m hoping there’s a noticeable change in the depth of flavor.
I wasn’t sure if that red stuff was mold, but tasted fine and I didn’t die, so that’s cool.
Monterey Jack (Number 2)
Because this cheese had a bit of a dirty sock smell after drying it at room temp, and because the weather was so hot at the time, I thought it might be a flop.
I opened it about a week early. The outside was slimy (which is normal, I understand), so I wiped it down with a salt brine and dried it.
The cheese was dry with little holes, and mild tasting. Again, there was a slight tang which, I’m learning to detect and identify as a sign of an under-aged cheese, but it was definitely not a failure. (About the holes: are they a sign of something gone wrong, or is this how it’s supposed to be? I do not know.)
I kept a quarter of it out for snacking and re-packaged the remaining cheese. We’ll see how it is in another month or so.
And now, lest you think I’m getting overly confident with my cheesemaking, here’s a photo from today’s project:
Camembert, my butt. I’m so mad! The curd took hours to set and then it was still too runny and leaked out the bottom and then the stupid mold decided not to stay put and the curd gush-pooped everywhere. I salvaged what I could (so much for sanitized conditions) and, because Gavin says no cheese failure is actually a failure, I strained the curd in a bag and then put it into ricotta molds. It’s a mess and I’m peeved because the instructions betrayed me and because white mold cheese already has me nervous and now I feel utterly incompetent and stupid for actually thinking I could do fancy cheese. The nerve!
Signing off for now. Gotta go nurse my wounds…