We last saw our little cheese round salted and set in the fridge wrapped in cheesecloth, and awaiting the formation of a golden brown crust on the entire surface of the cheese. The recipe I was using said this would take between one and 2 weeks to happen, but suggested checking the cheese daily to be sure. Today is Day 7. I had been checking the cheese daily, until yesterday, when I didn’t. This morning, there were deep cracks in the surface of the cheese. I’m pretty sure I let it dry too long. 😦
Still, undaunted, and knowing the good stuff must remain deep inside, I decided to carry on and wax it for it’s month-long aging process, anyway.
I used a pie tin which had been liberally sprayed with Pam. I placed the chunks of beeswax in the tin and put them in the oven at 250, but I put the tin in the oven when I turned it on. It had not come to temp, yet.
The cheese had just been removed from the fridge, so it was nice and cold. The even surfaces took the wax nicely, and evenly. Predictably, the crusty, uneven surfaces did not. I also had to spoon the wax into the cracks to form a proper seal.
Not pretty, but effective.
There is a special kind of wax for sealing cheese. It is made of paraffin and has other ingredients, including something that makes it red, and it can be purchased online. I like things made by bees better than I like things made my laboratories, so I went with beeswax for mine.
Overview of Hard Cheese Experiment, so far: I have decided that it is true, you really need to check your cheese every day, and that my fridge environment is a faster-drying one than the ones the recipe author was using. 5-6 days is probably plenty. Also, I will bite the bullet and shave the next round into a smooth shape, even though this means wasting a part of it. It will “crust up” more evenly, and will be easier to seal with the wax.
That’s why I call it an experiment. Some things you just have to do before you know how to.
Next time we see this Little Cheese, it will be one month from today (April 7), when I peel off the wax, cut a wedge and savor the flavor of what I have created. Whatever that might be!
This cheese was made with a recipe calling for yogurt as an innoculant. The second version of this recipe calls for buttermilk as an innoculant. The batch I have coagulating at this very moment is made using the buttermilk version. It will be interesting to see the contrast, as most of the variety in cheese is created by a difference in what live cultures were used.
The experiment continues…
Less than a week from now, I will be waxing that little cheese.