Tag Archives: cheese making

A Cheese making day at Corleggy

A Cheese making day at Corleggy coincided with my recent visit to Ireland. Having tried making soft cheese before (ricotta and fromage blanc), was keen to learn the process of maturing hard cheese using raw milk. Guided by a professional with a passion for cheese making was a chance not to be missed, allowing me a little insight into the art of cheese making. An enjoyable experience and a great way to spend a day outdoors.

The class was run by Silke Croppe an Artisan Cheese Maker recognized throughout Ireland for her handmade goats, cows and sheep’s cheese using raw milk. Silke is originally from Germany but moved to Ireland many years ago to live in Corleggy, Belturbet Co. Cavan where her passion for cheese making began.

The cheese making class was held outdoors on her charming farmhouse cottage nestled in the Belturbet countryside. The weather was on our side and luckily, no rain fell from the Irish skies… but it was cold! Silke and her team had a lovely log fire burning, keeping us warm throughout the day.

Breakfast was served before commencing the cheese making class and it gave us all time to introduce ourselves and have a chat.

A brief summary of the cheese making (in a bucket) process that Silke guided us through.

Fresh raw cow’s milk had already been collected early that morning from a nearby registered dairy into a large vat and mixed with a live culture (starter) to ripen the milk.

Everyone collected 10 liters of the raw cows milk into a sterilized container or bucket.

 Liquid rennet was stirred into the bucket of milk which was then left undisturbed for about 20 minutes until the milk set forming a large curd. Using a long knife the curd was carefully cut into smaller curds, this helped separate the watery whey from the curds. The curds were then gently stirred in the whey with clean hands while slowly adding some hot water until the curds reached a temperature of 39°C. During this process the curds became smaller and firmer.

Everyone busy stirring, adding hot water and emptying the excess whey until the curds reach the correct temperature.

Some of the curds were placed into a small cheese mould, this was left to drain for a couple of hours forming a soft cheese.

The rest of the drained curds and the cheesecloth were placed inside a larger cheese mould with holes at the sides which allowed further draining of the whey.

Each cheese mould was covered with a follower and pressure applied to the curds for a few hours, extracting more whey and shaping the cheese.

Time for a break…  a delicious lunch was served,  roast pork, some salads, cheese and wine were on offer. Coffee and some sweet treats were also provided!

After a few hours the cheese was removed from the press and the exterior of the cheese rubbed liberally with salt, this will help form a rind on the cheese.

The soft cheese (which is still in the white mould) only needed removing from the mould, ready to eat (or stored for about a week) and no further maturing was needed.

Our 1kilo of cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth to take home, ready for maturing into a hard cheese… over a three-month period! Maturing cheese can be a timely process and in the early stages the cheese will need to be turned daily for a couple of weeks and then every now and then until the cheese is mature. Ideal temperatures for maturing cheese are 10°C to 14°C and consistency is important… a wine cooler at home can come in handy!

Our day ended with a selection of Silkes wonderful handmade raw milk cheeses to sample before heading home.

As I was travelling back to Bahrain the following day I decided to leave my cheese with my brother, maturing alongside his cheese in his wine cooler. Up-dates have been promised (with a photo) and maybe I might just be back in Ireland to taste the cheese when it is fully matured…  in three months time.

making your own cheese!

fromage blanc or just say cheese!

After managing to make some home-made yoghurt using my yogurt/cheese appliance and being very satisfied with the results, cheese making ( had made a ricotta style cheese before) using rennet tablets was next on the list!  I thought it better to start with a basic un-ripened soft cheese. Having found a very informative site for cheese making for beginners (me) and managing to get my hands on some rennet tablets, I was very excited to get started.

Most cheese recipes start off by using large volumes of milk (10 liters) but I was using my yogurt/cheese appliance (can be made without appliance) that could only accommodate 1 liter of milk. I needed to scale down the volume of milk and hope that my cheese making attempt would work… it  did and the result was a soft dense spreadable white cheese with a slight tangy taste that I and my tasters were very happy to devour… once the camera had been set aside!

Fromage Blanc

  • 1/8 tablet rennet
  • 1 liter fresh whole milk
  • 1oz  buttermilk culture
  • fine sea salt

How to make:

Pre-heat the yogurt/cheese maker using the cheese setting.

Dissolve the rennet tablet completely in a tablespoon of warm water.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat the milk gently until it reaches a temperature of 35˚C (check using a thermometer), remove from heat.

Add the buttermilk and stir well. Next add the rennet and stir for about a minute until thoroughly combined.

Pour the milk into the sterilized jars (used all the jars ) and  place jars without lids into the yogurt/cheese appliance and leave undisturbed for 12 hours.

Once the twelve hours were up you could see that the milk had set (curds) and the whey was visible.  As the yogurt/cheese appliance has only two jars with strainers I used another strainer with a very fine mesh placed over a jug to strain the rest of the curds.I left the curds to drain (covered in the fridge) for 9 hours which resulted in a soft cheese.

I still felt that I wanted a firmer cheese so I achieved this by placing all the cheese together in the one strainer, laying over some grease-proof paper and placing a 1lb weight on top of the cheese to expel more whey. After another two and a half hours I decided that I was happy enough with the firmness of the cheese. Now I know why cheese-making is made with large volumes of milk… so much whey  drains from the curds and the resulting cheese was not much bigger than a Boursin Cheese!

Before shaping the cheese I mixed in about 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt for flavor, salt also helps with preserving the cheese. I only left the cheese to sit un-eaten in the refrigerator (covered) for one day to further mature.

The cheese can be eaten at this stage or matured further by salting and turning...but that will be another cheese for another day and another post!

Rather than mix the herbs into the cheese I topped the cheese with some garden fresh herbs (thyme, basil and chives), some home-dried tomatoes and a few twists of black pepper, eaten with some crackers… delicious!

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