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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Gruyere at Home

Hello all, here is something that i have been working on and it has taken some failures in the making and that is to make Gruyere, i think i have finally cracked it so i am going to share the entire process with you from beginning to almost the end, that would be the eating but we will not no that for another couple of months.

so here we go.......

First and most importantly when making any cheese and especially aged cheeses is hygiene, i wash all my utensils with hot soapy water and then i boil them for around 20 minutes in a pot on the stove, things that are to big to put into a pot, i place in my oven and steam them for 30 minutes.

Cheese making is all about bacterium so you only want the correct ones to grow not the "bad" ones.

So now that everything is sterile we can start (everything includes the pots used to make the cheese).

I am using 2 x 20lt pots in this recipe and this should yield around a 4,5kg Gruyere at the end depending on the milk.

40lt of pasteurized milk (if you use fresh you must use it within one hour of milking and it is best to pasteurize then your self buy getting it to 63 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.
1 tsp - Thermophilic culture - i use CHR Hansen ST-M5 DVS
1/8 tsp Propioni Bacterium
1.5 tsp calcium chloride
2 tsp liquid rennet (i use animal rennet)
(here are some guidelines if you want to make a smaller batch, thermophilic culture you use 1/3 tsp per 10 lt's of milk, rennet you use 4 drops per liter of milk and Propioni is a tip of a tsp per 10 liters of milk and calcium chloride is 3/4 tsp per 20 liters of milk)

i used 2 pots and a tilting pan filled with water (most of you will not have a tilting pan so make a bain marie using another pot.
you now have to bring the milk up to 32 degrees, i find that this usually takes me around an hour, as you don't want to go over that temp because you'll have to bring it back down again and that takes even longer, so i slowly heat the water in the bain marie, in my experience thus far, the milk in the pots is usually around 4 degrees colder than the water in the bain maire.

So now once the milk is up to 32 degrees i sprinkle the thermophilic culture on top of the milk along with the bacterium and leave it for 5 minutes to rehydrate, then using a sterile ladle i slowly pull the cultures into the milk but trying not to break the surface of the milk.
 Leave it to "ripen the milk" this is where the culture turns the lactose into lactic acid, this then in turn helps the rennet create the curd, so leave it to ripen for 10 minutes at this point you will add it the calcium chloride which you must dilute with 50ml of water, this just helps obtain a "stronger" curd if the milk is of "poor quality. You must mix it in the same way as the cultures by pulling it in.

Now add in the rennet also dilute it with 50 ml of cool water first and do exactly the same as with the calcium.

Now you need to keep it covered and do not disturb it for about 40 minutes - 1 hour until you can get a clean break, this is when you insert your finger and pull it up the curd breaks cleanly off your finger.

If you have not achieved a clean break, leave it for another 10 minutes.
Once you have got a clean break you then need to cut the curd, i cut the curd using a wire whisk, the curd needs to be evenly cut up into "rice" sized granules. once you have cut the curds leave them to settle for 5 minutes.

Then this is the hardest part of all, you now need to bring up the heat of the curds to 46 degrees but this has to take our hour to do and you have to stir constantly and softly for the entire hour.

This is where it can go wrong, you have to let the curd temperature increase by 1 degree every 5 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes they must increase 2 degree's.  Trust me when i say that if it isn't done like this it will go wrong in every way possible. i thought that it couldn't be that important and ended up waisting an entire batch.

You can see in this picture i have a large stick blender that just keeps the water rotating so that i don't get hot spots, also under the pots i have large slotted trays so that the pots aren't directly on top of a hot surface.

After the curds have reached 46 degrees, let them settle for 5 minutes, in the mean time place a colander over the mould that you are going to use and line it with a cheese cloth
Once the curds have settled pour them into the colander, the whey will warm up the mould, the actual mould i am using to press my cheese with is an old bucket that i have made holes in and sterilized it, it is onside the yellow bucket.

Once the curds are strained you can put them into the mould with the cheese cloth and press them either in a cheese press or with some weights above it. This is a homemade cheese press and it works wonders, really easy to make wouldn't cost you more than R200

Now you need to prepare a brine solution of 18% this basically means you need to dissolve 18grams of salt into 100ml of water, i used 10 lts of water and 1,8kg of salt, you have to boil the water first and stir in the salt whilst it is boiling.

then take the Gruyere and float it in the brine for 12 hours turning it at 6 hours.

Then place it on a cheese mat to drip dry for around 2-3 days at room temperature, then place it in a fridge that is sitting between 10-15 degrees to age the cheese, now you need to wipe the cheese with a sterile cloth dipped into the brine every 2 days for 1 month, and turning the cheese each time, after a month you can change to washing it once a week, after 2 months you can stop, then just rub the cheese with a cloth once a week to help form a rind, and turn the cheese once a week, age for a minimum of 6 months, better if you can do it for 12 months.