Monthly Archives: April 2016

Big Block Parmesan – April 16, 2016

A year ago this week I made my first Parmesan.  A couple weeks ago we cut into that wheel and although it wasn’t like most Parms you buy, it was tasty and now it’s gone.  It will take a year before I have Parmesan to eat, so this time I made a much larger batch, 7 lbs.20160416_180116_001

I started with 6 gallons of 2% and 1 gallon of whole milk. My pot will hold 3 ½ gallons, so I am doing two batches side-by-side. As I started the prep I discovered two  different recipes, one with Lipase and one without.  I had planned on making the double batch and combining the curds for one wheel, but decided to keep them separate.  As the make continued I noticed that the milk looked pretty different. The milk without the lipase

Lipase on the right
Lipase on the right

had a lot of small floating curds, while the lipase batch was almost completely clean on top. Up to this point everything was the same except the addition of lipase.

Before we get into the recipe, I want to share the final product and discuss it.
As all home cheesemakers will attest you are always struggling to check temperatures

lipase wheel on the left, non-lipase wheel on the right.
lipase wheel on the left, non-lipase wheel on the right.

and keep the milk at proper temperatures.  So here is where I share I made a potential error that may have affected the final product, I let one pot go up about 5 degrees just before the cut. The temp was slipping and the mass of the curd was blocking the thermometer from getting to the bottom. I was able to bring the temp down in about 10 mins but it may make a difference.  At this point in time I will have to remake this batch to really know but as you can see in the picture, the lipase wheel has tight curds and finished beautifully. The wheel without the lipase has curds that aren’t as tight, they didn’t bind as well.


  • 3 gallons 2% milk, 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • TA061  1/4 tsp for each pot
  • Lipase 1/4 tsp for 1 pot(prepare 30mins ahead in 1/4 cup distilled water)
  • Calcium Chloride 1/2 tsp for each
  • 1 tsp Rennet
  • Heavy Brine (24 hours of soaking)


  • Heat milk to 88°-90°
  • Sprinkle in culture and let set for 2 minute, mix for 1 minute
  • Add lipase mix for 1 minute
  • Recipe called for 90 min to rest.
  • At about 85 minutes I added the calcium Chloride and mixed for a minute.
  • 5 minute wait time between Calcium Chloride and Rennet addition
  • Add Rennet and mix for 1 minute keeping temp at 90°
  • Wait for clean break, recipe called for 30 minutes but it needed more
  • Set timer for 10 minutes, check again then go another 10 minutes(50min total for clean beak)
  • Cut curd to 1/4 in slowly over a 10min span
  • Stir slowly for 15 minutes at 90° – I used my large whisk to make sure curds are cut
  • begin to heat to 108° over 30 minute period.
  • Hold at 108° for 5 minutes minimal stirring for this 5 minutes
  • Increase heat to 124°-128° over 30 minutes more
  • let settle for 5 minutes – Goal PH value at 6.5 or 6.4
  • Goal is for curds to be  very small almost rice size and quite springy20160417_075032_001
  • pour whey and curds into mold and press at minimal weight for 15 minutes
  • Flip and double weight for 30 minutes
  • Flip again and double weight for 60 minutes
  • Flip and press for 8-12 hours with enough weight to close rind
  • End PH of 5.4 -5.5 ideal
  • Brine for 24 hours
    finished wheels headed for frig in tupperware
    finished wheels headed for frig in tupperware

    Update 6-4-2016:
     We are coming up on 2 months of aging for the Parmesan.  The first month or so they were happy in their tupperware with little of no mold growth. Then they started to get high maintenance, washing and cleaning every 2-3 days. A couple times I was too busy to catch them for 4 or 5 days and the outside started to end up with permanent discoloration that I couldn’t get off.  I tried both with the lid on and off, trying to get it to dry correctly, but keep enough humidity in the cheese. parma2Well, I was growing weary of caring for it so I washed it last night and today it went into plastic. The wheel on the right has more funky stuff going on, but that is the wheel that I didn’t get fully closed.  So, off to the Frig for 10-24 months.

A tale of two cultures – Havarti/Takelma -April 9

Many of the cheeses I have made involve adding two cultures, Swiss and Jarlsberg, Manchego, to name a few, however, I haven’t made many that require 2 mesophilic cultures. I started reading Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking some time ago and I am fascinated by many of the recipes.  They are more about technique than about the name on the cheese.

Today I made “same temperature, light brine, washed cheese” p260, it most closely resembles Havarti or St. Paulin.

cheese fresh from the brine.
cheese fresh from the brine.

The creamery also created a name for the cheese they were making, Takelma after native Americans close to where they make cheese.

This was also a chance to try out my new cheese mold that has a built in cheesecloth. I ordered the new mold from Amazon using Christmas cash.

Mold with follower and attached cheese cloth.
Mold with follower and attached cheese cloth.

I love it when Christmas extends all the way to April. The mold is super sturdy, easy to use, easy to clean. Wish I had a couple.


  • 2 Gallons Whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. MM100 Mesophilic
  • 1/16 tsp. C61 Mesophilic (Called for LM)
  • 1/4 tsp. rennet
  • 1/2 tsp. Calcium Chloride


cheese curds in the mold
cheese curds in the mold
  • Heat milk to 79°  – mix in cultures, let sit for 5 minutes,
  • Stir for 2 minutes – Up and down motion, not stirring motion. (PH was 6.34)
  • Continue to Heat to 89°
  • Stir in Calcium Chloride for 1 minute – let rest for 5 before proceeding
  • Add Rennet for 1 minute, goal time is 45 minutes
  • wait for clean break, cut 1/4inch cubes slowly…over 20 minutes
  • Let rest for 15mins.
  • Heat 1 gallon of water to 89°  –
  • Drain off 1 gallon of whey, slowly add water and 1 teaspoon of salt while stirring
  • Stir and heat to 100°  –  over a 30 minute period
  • Press under whey for 10-15 minutes ( I put a plate on top of the curd and placed a half filled milk jug on top)
  • Drain whey and place into mold – pressed with 4 lbs for 15 mins.(Probably should have been 2 lbs.)
  • Flip curd for 30 and double the weight
  • Flip for an hour, flip for 8 hours
  • Brine for 2-3 hours per pound( I went for 4 hours total)
  • Pat dry and put in frig.
  • 2-3 months aging. Can be washed or waxed.

Note: When I began to age this cheese, I placed it into the wine frig and wiped it daily with a brine solution. After just a few days the top started to look dry and cracked, so I flipped it washed it in brine. Then the other side started to look the same, until I placed it in tupperware and the cheese is looking great.  I also put 4 drops of Annatto into a cup and half of brine and used it to wipe down the cheese daily.  It is aging as well as anything I have had in the frig. Higher humidity may be the answer, but if you can’t keep up the humidity, tupperware is the answer.

Annatto Brine rub
Annatto Brine rub