[Sca-cooks] Cheese please!

Kathleen Madsen kmadsen12000 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 22 19:54:58 PST 2008

Hi, Vitha!

Hooray!  Let me know if you want any help making any
of these cheeses, you know how I love to get cheesy. 
Your list looks very good (and period!) but the timing
needs a little tweaking.

1. Fontina.  The 3 month aging time is for an entire
wheel.  The standard wheel I would buy was 22 pounds. 
I don't think you're going to need that much Fontina,
you'd be eating it on everything for weeks in order to
get rid of it all.  If you size it down to a 2 lb
wheel it's only going to need about 5 weeks to age,
probably less so that you don't lose that
springy/sticky texture that is so desirable in the
cheese.  Luckily, if you make the smaller wheel you
have time to perfect it before NOTT.

2. Mozzarella.  Most Italians will only eat fresh
mozz. if it's been made that day, they scoff at us
Americans every time we airlift out a batch of buffalo
mozzarella because by the time it gets into our shops
it's well past what they would consider it's prime. 
The earliest you'd want to make this would be the
afternoon before feast.  You can also buy pre-made
curd in 5 and 20 pound blocks (I'm hearing the
Italians mocking me as I type) should you not have
enough time to make the curd and pull same-day. 
Mozzarella is difficult to pull and get right, it
takes lots and lots of practice.  When I was making it
in the shop last summer it took about 2-3 days to get
the texture where I wanted it so I had the slightly
formed sack around the ball and the loose, easy to
break stretched curd in the middle.  You *have* to
spend time practicing so the frustration level during
production doesn't turn everything into a nightmare. 
You want to go into it with confidence.  You don't
need all that much for 100 people, maybe an ounce a
person - probably less, but you're still probably
going to have to form 12-15 good sized balls and
you're going to want them pretty consistent.

3. Burrini.  This is just a small version of Burrata
but has a lump of butter in the middle rather than the
Burrata version of unpulled curd mixed with cream. 
(Note: Burrata is a ball of fresh mozzarella
surrounding a soft, creamy center of unpulled curd
lumps mixed with cream.  Pure luxury)   Burrini is
going to be a <bleep> to form as the curd is quite hot
140-150 degrees F and the butter likes to melt.  You
have to be really, really good and really, really fast
at pulling mozzarella to get this one to turn out
right, it's also almost identical in taste and texture
to the fresh mozz.

4. Provolone.  The only concern with this one, other
than having a controlled aging environment, is to make
sure you have a smooth rind.  The aged pasta filata
cheeses can develop cracks in the rind as they age and
you have to check, wipe, and reposition them every day
to keep them supple and aging uniformly.  One crack
and mold starts to grow in the paste right away.  If
you're lucky you can cut it out when you serve, if
you're not then the whole thing goes into the trash.

5.  Cacciocavallo.  I love this cheese.  It has the
same issues as Provolone because it's very similar. 
These guys are *great* smoked too.  Aging time can
vary as you can make them as small as 1/2 pound and as
large as you have the hands to hold it all together as
you pull it.

Let me know if you want to do any of these using raw
milk, I have a "source".  It's not legal to sell raw
milk in Maryland but I am a member of a buying club
that buys direct from a farmer in Pennsylvania and
delivers it down here.  The Provolone and
Cacciocavallo recipes get hot enough that they will
pasteurize the milk as the curd is cooked, so it's a
good choice for using raw milk if you want to try
working with it.  The others I would recommend using
store-bought pasteurized milk in consideration of
anyone with a compromise immune system or those who
are pregnant or nursing.  (I'm trying real hard to
keep my personal opinions about pasteurized milk and
the FDA out of this).

As for supplies: http://www.cheesemaking.com/ is the
best for home cheesemaking.  Ricki is the "Queen of
Cheese" and the folks there are great if you have any
questions about anything at all.  If you decide in the
future that you want more interesting cheese cultures
or supplies then Glengarry Cheese Supply in Canada is
your best bet, they're equally great with questions. 
Margaret will package up all US orders, drive the 5
minutes across the border and ship it.  I can't
imagine how much money she's saved all of us by doing
it that way rather than just shipping it

Let me know if you want me to bring any of my books to
choir practice tomorrow night, we can also talk on
Saturday at Midwinter's.



Well, Gunther has inspiried me to make cheese for my
upcoming feast:

I'm doing Late Period Italian in Mid April.

What I am currently planning is to do a cheese plate
as a prelude to
dessert.  Feast is for 100.

Here are my current possibilities with cure times:
Fontina (3 months)***
Mozzarella (10 days) - hand stretched
Provolone: (2-3 months)
Burrini ( a few weeks)
Caciovavallo (2 months) - hand stretched

I'm also considering making & serving mascarpone along
with the cheese
fresh bread.
Now I need to get some Rennet & other assorted



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