Here’s where it began.
Two gallons of fresh-from-the-Jersey-cow milk.
See the cream line? That kind of milk. The kind where the cream rises to the top.
From this, I am making camembert.
I’d say “I made camembert” but it’s not finished yet. I hesitate even to write about it, in case it turns into a big fail, but what the heck.
Now, I know perhaps some of you will cringe when I tell you this, but I didn’t make raw milk camembert. I wanted to. I really really wanted to. But I’m playing it safe. See, I don’t know the cow, or the farmer, or the farm this milk originates from.
Yeah, a bit wild and crazy of me. See, a few weeks ago, I had a cryptic message left on my cell phone:
“It’s GMG.” Then there was a pause…and then, simply, “Fresh Jersey Milk. Call me.”
Or something equally short and sweet.
Now, GMG (not his real initials – actually it stands for Goat Milk Guy) did not breed his goats this year and has not had any goat milk for me this summer
I’m sure you can imagine my sorrow.
So this message set my little cheese-loving heart fluttering with excitement.
A few calls back and forth, a quick look online for directions (I’ve never been to his farm) and one day recently Bill and the kids and I were off on a mini road trip to get some milk.
And so here we are, back to my kitchen.
I wanted to make Camembert last summer, but for whatever reasons (that I can’t remember), it never transpired. But – I had ordered all the stuff I needed, so I was ready to go when this opportunity came along.
Of course I could have made cheddar or some other cow’s milk cheese, too. But I really want to make me some camembert.
Oh – almost forgot. So while we were at the house (after meeting the two dachshunds, Siamese kitten, several chickens and two goats), I asked where the milk came from. And, in a slightly sing-song voice, he said “I ain’t telling you.” Oddly enough, I didn’t mind. Nor was I surprised. He’s a slightly quirky character, but I can deal with that. Especially since he’s planning to breed his goats again and I’ll have goat milk available next spring/summer.
So home we went, with milk. (And honey. He keeps bees, too. And he makes maple syrup. One stop shopping.)
I’m going to pause here for a minute just to say a little while back there was a comment on one of my older food-making posts telling me, in effect, that I talk too much and should cut out all these stories and just give the recipe. Something like that. And I wasn’t the least bit upset – it struck me funny. Does this person not know how to just scroll down?
That’s all. I just wanted to share.
The making of Camembert is pretty easy, really. The tricky part (or so I’ve read) begins when you put your newly formed little cheeselings in their cave or cave-like environment. Temperature needs to be at 45F, humidity 85-95%. I’ve got my cheese in a little dorm fridge hooked up to the regulator Bill used to use to keep our chest freezer at the right temperature when he was making lagers. The chest freezer doesn’t work any more, but it makes a nice shelf for the dorm fridge.
I wrote that first part on September 21st. Today’s the 4th of October. I didn’t write any more at the time in part because life got busy, but also because I wanted to wait a bit to see if my Camembert was really going to BE Camembert. Didn’t want to jinx myself, or the cheese, I guess.
Anyway. A few days ago when I did my daily visit to the cheese cave (dorm fridge), I discovered – to my absolute and utter joy – WHITE MOLD! I texted my sister. THERE IS WHITE MOLD DEVELOPING ON THE CAMEMBERT! She understood.
I took a couple of pictures. Of course.
The lighting isn’t good in that corner of the basement, but still. White mold!
I know, I know, I skipped all the process part and went straight to the mold. To tell you the truth, the actual cheese-making isn’t all that different from the other cheeses I’ve made (not that there have been a lot of them) – you bring the milk to certain temperatures, add cultures, let the milk sit, add rennet, let it sit, check the curd, cut the curd, let it sit, stir the curd, drain it, pack it into molds, flip it over, drain some more, store it somewhere with the appropriate temperature and humidity level….and wait.
Here are some pictures:
I only had one actual camembert mold (the one at the back on the left), so I used what I had.
And here they are, in my makeshift cave. The four little ones on the left are thicker than they should be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t have any adverse effect on the final products.
In the meantime, WHITE MOLD!
The cheese has several more weeks of aging to do – and mold-growing. I’ll keep you updated.