PERFECTING THE CRAFT OF CHEESEMAKING
From our grass fed cows to curds and whey, blueing to maturation, cheese tasting, grading and finally onto the cheese counter. We’ve been refining our blue cheese-making technique for over 30 years. Here’s our step by step guide to cheesemaking:
1. It All Starts With The Milk
We take great pride in that we are both farmers and cheese-makers. The cheese house nestles in the Osiery paddock and is surrounded by lush grazing pasture. Cashel Blue® is made from grassfed Friesan whole, but un-homogenised milk, much of which comes The Pedigree Friesan Cashel Blue herd. Quality of milk and animal welfare is key to good cheesemaking. Crozier Blue, our ewes milk blue, is made in the same manner as Cashel Blue® but from Friesland sheep’s milk.
2. Harping On
Fresh whole milk is precisely pasteurised, taking great care to stabilize but not strip our milk, of the more delicate sweet flavour elements. A starter microbial culture is added to start the fermentation process, then Penicillium Roquefortii ,(blue mould), and vegetarian rennet are added at intervals.
After approximately one hour the rennet takes effect and the cheese-maker ever so gently pulls the cheese harp, by hand, through the curd, which divides in a curtain to separate out the solid curds from the liquid whey.
3. Moulding & Turning
The curds are turned regularly by hand, we wait, watch and feel, until such time that they are of a sufficiently firm texture to transfer into mould, this is not a precise science and will vary from making to making. During moulding the curds knit together, and the remaining whey will be encouraged to drain out through a process of turning.
4. Salting & Piercing
On day three we remove our cheeses from mould and salt them. Salt is an essential element in our cheeses, in that salt acts as a natural preservative and also plays a flavour element. Cashel Blue® is a blue with a medium level of salt, whereas Crozier blue is a little saltier given that it is matured for longer. On day four each wheel is individually pierced with stainless steel needles, allowing passages of air into the body of the cheese to allow oxygen to penetrate into the centre and provide the conditions for the blue mould spores to develop.
Cheeses are transferred for what is commonly referred to as “cave ageing.” Held at around 10 C, the cheeses are left in a natural environment until such time as a slight blue matrix has developed in the interior of the cheese, while the outer rind benefits from a gentle level of natural exterior moulds. At Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers we are advocates of the benefits of natural rinds and their contribution to the flavour and texture of farmhouse cheese.
6. Tasting, Wrapping and Sending Out Into The World
Once blue, all our cheeses are wrapped in foil, Cashel Blue® in gold, Crozier in Silver. The foil will continue to let the blue mould breath, but will stop it becoming too blue! They undergo an initial tasting at this stage, level of blue, texture, acidity are all considered and ultimately determine how long we will age each days making. Baskets of cheese are moved into the ageing rooms, where, over a period of between 2 -3 months, they gradually gain a balance of flavour and creaminess of texture, as the fats and proteins gently break down. They are once again tasted prior to selection for each order received.