This family includes a large number of fresh and aged soft cheeses, made from a range of milks. They are traditionally cultured for longer periods at lower temperatures with little or no added rennet. Our instruction to make a lactic cheese is something that you follow once you have mastered the basics and can adapt a method to your needs rather than follow a recipe.
Time: As long as it takes. Yield: As much as you make.
Sterilize your equipment and heat your milk to 77°F, 25°C. Add a mesophilic starter such as the Culture Cupboard® Soft Cheese Starter and stir to dissolve. Still the milk and add a small amount of rennet - half the manufacturers dose for the amount of milk you are culturing is usually sufficient. The soft curds of a lactic cheese are formed mainly by the acidification of the milk over a long time frame, but a little rennet can help to form firmer curds.
Cover the pot and place it somewhere where the temperature will not fall below 68°F, 20°C while it cultures. Check it after 8 hours. When the curd has formed a solid wobbly block and you see some clear liquid whey covering it then it is ready to cut and drain. If it hasn’t formed a solid block leave it at the same temperature for up to 24 hours but check it regularly as you don’t want to over-culture or it produces a dry grainy curd with a bitter taste rather than a fresh sweet curd.
Line a colander with sterilized cotton cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl to catch the whey. Carefully ladle in the set curds, cover with cheesecloth and leave them in a draught free place at the same 77°F, 25°C temperature to drain for 12-16 hours. Once the curds have drained put them in a clean bowl and mix through salt to taste. We like to weigh the curds and add 2% of the weight of the curds in salt. The curds can then be stored in the refrigerator, shaped by hand, topped with herbs and eaten within a week.
For aging these lactic curd cheeses you can also ladle them into a range of hoops and molds to drain and then surface rub them with salt to the same percentage. Mature them in the refrigerator in a cheese box with a mat and turn them frequently. Eat within 2-3 weeks. These aged lactic cheeses often have the addition of molds or ash to enhance the surface.
See our Camembert & Brie book for more information.
More from How to Make Soft Cheeses:
Reprinted with permission from How to Make Soft Cheeses by Heather Cole and published by Country Trading Co.