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Ingredients:

  • 6 litres pasteurised Jersey milk
  • 0.9ml animal rennet

For Secret Santa this year I ended up with a fellow cheese lover from the Czech Republic, so I decided I should try and make her some Czech cheese as a present!

She had told me about Bryndza and Olomoucke tvarôžky (affectionately called “smelly cheese”), both of which looked easy enough to make, but given the time constraints I opted to make some fresh Bryndza.

Unfortunately there don’t seem to be very many recipes available, so I had to pretty much make it up, based on her description of the cheese and a fair bit of searching!

Fundamentally the Czech incarnation of Bryndza is a brined ewe’s milk cheese, similar to feta, but much softer and less crumbly.

I decided to go back to basics on this cheese, as I feel I’ve been relying on good equipment for the past few cheeses, so wanted to (briefly!) return to the good old makeshift double-boiler to show how easy cheese making is!

Prepping the boiler

Prepping the boiler

Jersey milk

Jersey milk

Although Bryndza is traditionally made with ewe’s milk, it proved impossible to get at short notice, so I had to use Jersey milk instead.

Decanting the milk

Decanting the milk

Such a tiny amount!

Such a tiny amount!

Warming very, very slowly

Warming very, very slowly

One thing I’d forgotten about making cheese in a makeshift double-boiler like this is how long it takes to heat up!

My lovely big vat takes a matter of minutes to reach temperature, whereas this took hours!

Measuring the rennet

Measuring the rennet

I decided on 0.9ml of rennet as I wanted a coagulation time of around 2 hours.

Note that I was using new rennet in order to test the strength – in the end it took a little longer than expected, which is useful to know when portioning out next time!

FINALLY up to temperature!

FINALLY up to temperature!

Once up to 30C, add the rennet diluted in around 5-6 times it’s volume of cold, clean water.

I didn’t think there was much point in starter, as the cheese is going to be brined, overriding any flavour a starter would impart.

Adding the rennet

Adding the rennet

Once the rennet has been added, stir for 30 seconds – usually recipes prescribe 2.5 – 3mins of stirring, but after talking to a fellow cheesemaker recently I decided to reduce this given the volumes of milk being used.

Clean break

Clean break

After just over 2 hours a clean break was achieved, once I’d managed to get through the top layer of Jersey cream!

Ready for draining

Ready for draining

Ladelling out the curd

Ladelling out the curd

Since I wanted to keep the cheese soft and spreadable, I decided against cutting the curd as you would with feta.

Filling up

Filling up

Makeshift press

Makeshift press

Once all the curd is ladelled out into a cloth-lined drainer, add weights on top to force the whey out.

I actually ended up adding a LOT more weight than is in the photo – somewhere around 8kg, as the whey wasn’t draining quickly enough.

Although I was aiming for a drainage time of around 5 hours, it actually took a lot longer – around 10 – hopefully this didn’t cause too much acidification!

Drained curd mass

Drained curd mass

Ready for salting

Ready for salting

Rub in a small amount of salt to the curd, and leave for a couple of days, flipping and re-salting twice a day.

The Jersey milk really shows itself in the final curd, giving streaks of yellow cream throughout!

Making up the brine

Making up the brine

After two days, make up a 9-10% brine solution – use any salt for this, as the dehydrating agents don’t make any difference to a cheese immersed in water!

Brine-y

Brine-y

The ominous-looking finished product!

The ominous-looking finished product!

Leave in brine for 4-5 days before eating, so the cheese has time to pickle.

Having tasted it today, it’s very soft and spreadable, but the saltiness is a little overpowering.

As with feta, bathing it in milk before eating will reduce the saltiness, so I’ll see what the Czech verdict is first before updating the recipe!

Secret Santa present present giving is tomorrow – I’m sure it’s going to be pretty obvious who it’s from though!

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