Issue No. 8

August 28th, 2010

Looking Beyond Feta: The Surprising World of Greek Cheese

by Susan Marquis

I’m telling you, it is a terrific summer meal: a real Greek salad with perfectly ripe tomatoes and cucumbers and the salty, dairy hit of good Feta. Then perhaps some grilled seafood such as prawns, bonito, parrot fish, calamari, or snapper, simply prepared with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and Greek oregano. And perhaps some whole potatoes rubbed in salt and olive oil and roasted on the grill. And then—to delight the soul—some lovely grilled cheese or saganaki, made with Kasseri or Halloumi cheese toasted until browned and then drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. If you are so inclined, this wonderful, outdoor meal is even better when complemented by a bright Greek white wine chilled a bit more than usual to accommodate the summer heat.

Shop Talk

by Christopher Thompson

Cheese Enthusiast first got wind of this unique store “up in the valley” (the San Fernando Valley, in the north of Los Angeles) just by our usual digging around to see what cheesemaking resources are regionally available. We paid the store a visit in mid-March and had a great afternoon in what was clearly something of a local hangout for do-it-yourselfers. In fact, the store is headquarters for two cooperative clubs, the Maltose Falcons (brewers) and the Cellarmasters (winemakers). There was a cheesemaking club for a little while, but the requirements for making cheese (i.e., a sterile, closed, and highly controlled kitchen, sanitary milk-handing, etc.) did not lend themselves to the co-op/club approach. The store sells all of the supplies a small-scale winemaker, brewer, or cheesemaker would need.

Do Try This at Home: About Camembert

by Susan Marquis

The iconic French Camembert is one of the first cheeses that comes to mind when imagining ancient cheesemaking practices and the luxury of a post-dinner cheese plate. Once its soft paste has ripened to oozing, creamy perfection, Camembert and a loaf of good bread (and perhaps a glass of a wine or even French hard cider) are the stuff of a memorable meal. Camembert is a cheese that has inspired poetry and even the famous “melting watches” of Salvador Dali’s painting, “The Persistence of Memory.”

Camembert d’Arlington

by Susan Marquis

A few key technical points to keep in mind when embarking on your home Camembert adventure. This is a surface-ripening cheese. This means that the key to a successful make is controlling the acidity and moisture, and managing the “decay” (ripening) via temperature. Your cheese will ripen from the outside in. The renneting time is long (both in terms of your flocculation point (see CE 5) and the multiplier used to determine the full coagulation time). The pH of the milk and then curd will move slowly during heating and coagulation but moves quickly as the cheese drains in the molds. The result is an inelastic curd due to less calcium retention as the whey drains and acid builds. As the cheese ripens, pH will move from the low of about 4.6 just after salting to much sweeter, with a pH as high as 7 at its surface, when it is ready to eat. It is the increase in pH and the loss of calcium that cause the paste to become softer and even runny.1 Finally, to help prepare the cheese surface for mold and yeast growth these cheeses are dry-salted rather than left in brine.

Cheesemaker Check-in

Who: Corry De Robertis. An Italian-American man who is passionate about cheese and cheesemaking.

So, what got you started? I was given a cheesemaking kit for my birthday.

The evolution of a cheesemaker: I began by making mozzarella. I was instantly hooked! From there I tried making hard, aged cheeses. Most of them were failures. Either they were sour or they tasted kind of like dry cheddar even if I was making Gouda! My first successful aged cheese was a cow’s milk Romano. Eventually I tried mold-ripened cheeses like Camembert, Chevre, St. Maure and Humboldt Fog. These are the cheeses I make most often.

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