Around the Table | DineOut Articles
Stinky cheesemaking at home
by Mr Lu, Sun 16th Aug 2009 04:30pm
I do believe it's time for a taste of some homegrown instructional tantalisation and for this reason I have decided to give you the opportunity to make your very own Blue Vein Cheese! Detailed below you will find the ways and means to fulfill your lurking desires to produce edible inhouse pungency that will far outsatisfy mere commercial alternatives. Of course, there are a number of ways to skin a cat and whilst no cats were used in the cheese I made using the recipe and procedures below, you may well wish to depart from tradition...
Where possible I will provide photographs and as much information as possible but be warned! You may have to exercise intelligence of your own and fill in any gaps by drawing on your own experiences & expertise in the kitchen. For those without any common sense please stop now!
Before we get underway, I will point out that there are many books on home cheesemaking and some of these are very worthwhile as they will walk you through the making of numerous popular types of cheese. I believe the best book available today is 'Home Cheesemaking' by Neil and Carole Willman which has something like 50 recipes in its pages and is written in a very easy to understand way, just how we like it! There is a New Zealand Cheesemaker, Katherine Mowbray, who has also written a book on cheesemaking but it isn't one I'm familiar with. However, a quick Google will no doubt have you inundated with choices.
Blue Vein Cheese:
There are clearly a number of fundamentals that must be adhered to if you want to be successful in this hugely satisfying endeavour. The first, of course, as with all food preparation and handling relates to hygiene/food safety. Essentially, why would anyone without criminal intent knowingly want to risk contaminating the food they or anyone else proposes to eat?
Cheesemaking does rely on temperature to control bacterial growth but it is important that we keep our own bodily bacteria out of the mix and off the utensils and equipment we are using and which will come in contact with the product we are making.
The best way to ensure this is to sanitise all our equipment in either boiling water or through the use of sanitizer tablets which are readily available at supermarkets. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizers should also be frequently used prior to hand contact with the food we are preparing to maximize the protection and minimize the risks. These are easy to find these days.
- Plastic basin with lid (see attached photograph)
- Polystyrene box, also with lid
- Egg slice
- Scoop/ stirrer
- Measuring cup and eyedrop
- Moulds with holes in one end(improvise on this one + see photo)
Place plastic basin inside the polystyrene one.
Heat 8 litres of pasteurized milk up to 38 degrees Celcius & pour into plastic inner container and then add starter powder which contains a fermenting solution and a second culture for blue vein & which is available from various sources/ cheesemakers. Add this at the rate of a quarter of a teaspoon per 8 litres, mixing thoroughly using your sanitized stirrer all the while.
Exactly 10 minutes later add half a ml of rennet per 8 litres of milk but first dilute the rennet with 20 times its volume of cooled, boiled water. Ie 0.5ml rennet plus 10ml of cooled, boiled water. Pour this into the milk ensuring that you evenly administer it about the container and make sure you do not stop mixing and stirring while pouring, for 1 minute. Put the lids back onto the two containers to preserve the temperature.
(NB: Please stick strictly to these times to ensure a good result at the end of the day – be very precise if possible).
You will also need to be monitoring the temperature of your milk/rennet mixture by checking that it is as close to 38 degrees as possible. If the temperature drops, as it will, you must add boiling water to the polystyrene container but please ensure the lid of the plastic container is firmly attached so no water gets into your milk/rennet mix.
Leave to set for 80 minutes in a warm environment. During this time please feel under no obligation to stand and watch the containers. Go into the living room, do your aerobics workout, do some housework, make phonecalls, polish your piercings, finalise plans to leave your spouse….whatever turns you on!
Open inner container and, using the egg slice, cut the formed curd into cubes of approx 11-12mm using a grid pattern (criss-cross) then leave to stand for 5 minutes. At this stage you will be struggling to contain your mounting excitement.
To prevent the cubed curds from reforming or reconnecting into matted blocks you will now need to gently stir the mixture every 5 minutes for the next one hour. Stir from below up and gently shake & wriggle stirrer when you get to the surface with the curd. This will serve to separate the sliced cubes and keep them apart.
At the end of the 60 minutes (remember to adhere to the times I've mentioned) stir gently for 15 minutes before pouring off the whey(liquid) from the curds. Once this is done you may need to use your fully sanitized hands to gently stir the curds for 5 minutes to prevent matting. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the mixture(the curds) and stir in.
Spoon or ladle the curds into your moulds and then turn over at 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2hours, 4 hours and 6 hours. Obviously you will need to have read ahead if you're making cheese like this as you must allow sufficient time to carry out each of the above manoeuvres. Don't even think about going to work! Make cheese instead.
The next morning you will need to remove the cheese from the mould(s) and immerse in a cold 25% brine solution, 200gm salt to 800ml of boiled water which has been cooled to room temperature, for 40 minutes.
Take cheese out and then carefully lance your holes through the block, approximately 20mm apart. A meat skewer or bamboo skewer will do this easily. You can put holes on the top, the sides, the bottom, wherever you wish.
Place the cheese atop a rack inside a small container with a hole in the top and a hole in the bottom. The container could be an ice cream container with your homemade rack inside - rack can be made from straws, skewers etc as long as it lifts the cheese above the bottom of the container to allow air circulation. Place container somewhere for two weeks where there is a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees C. This could be a wine fridge, for example, or a cellar, or a cupboard. At the end of the two weeks place container in 7-8 degree C for 3 more weeks.
After the above you should wrap the cheese in ovenproof paper then aluminium foil before storing for 4 to 12 weeks at 4 degrees C.
By this time you will have a stunning, homemade blue cheese that I'm sure you will enjoy and will enjoy introducing to your friends and family!
Above all else just remember that something that you have made yourself is likely to taste a lot better than a purchased product. There is the immense personal satisfaction of having followed the process of creating something that's not only interesting and a real talking point but is also edible and very flavoursome!
And so it was written, until next time...
PS: Mr Lu is not a professional cheesemaker and readers are advised that they follow the above recipe entirely at their own risk. No responsibility is accepted for any outcome and the reader should consult cheesemaking publications and attain a level of confidence and competence in all the processes and procedures before attempting to make cheese.
Girls Night Out
Mon 17th Aug 2009 12:35pm
Hi Mr Lu
Thanks for the recipe.. Out of interest, is this a baby blue cheese recipe or a real stink out the whole house blue cheese recipe.
Girls Night Out
Mon 7th Sep 2009 10:51pm
I must apologise for not responding sooner. If you're lucky this recipe will reward you with a serious level of pungency! You will be the envy of anyone who likes cheese with attitude.
Mon 14th Sep 2009 09:12am
Hi Mr Lu,
Looks great! I am going to give it a try.
Mon 14th Sep 2009 09:27am
Great recipe - have the Katherine Mowbray book (from Cook the Books on Pnsonby Rd)but struggling to find where to but culture and rennet etc (In central Akld but no luck so far from s/mkts) Any suggestions please
Mon 14th Sep 2009 11:29am
Like Tapa above,it is hard to source cultures etc here in NZ. Where do you get the powder you refer to. There are thousands of sites that show you how to make cheese but they all require you to have the products that do not seem available here in good old NZ. Any hints on where to get them would be good (especially here in Wellington).
Mon 14th Sep 2009 11:34am
Just me again. If you want to learn how to make simple cheese without all the cultures check out these sites. http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/cheese.html
Wed 23rd Sep 2009 03:42pm
I hope this is allowed here. If not please accept my apologies and remove the comment.
We at www.cottagecrafts.co.nz sell everything you need to make all sorts of cheese. If we do not stock something you need let me know and we will try to get it in for you.
Wed 23rd Sep 2009 03:43pm
BTW, I agree on the book. It is the only one we sell because it is simply the best available in New Zealand.
Wed 30th Sep 2009 02:39am
I had a go at making mozzarella some time ago. It wasn't too successful though as I cocked up the adding the rennet. Ricotta, cottage and mozzarella cheese are all fairly simple processes and produce quick results so if you are of a cheese making bent perhaps try them out as a starter.
Wed 30th Sep 2009 12:37pm
These cheeses are fabulous, i want more !!!!!!
Sat 3rd Oct 2009 06:28pm
I'm so keen to try this some time. The only cheese I have thus far made was Indian paneer.
Tue 17th Nov 2009 05:23am
Hi Tapa . contact Dave Milner at
He has all the stuff you need in small amounts. He does amazing classes too
Ps I have just opened my little camembert "Dave " that I made in his class 7 weeks ago. Beautiful and unlike the mass produced jobbies here from the supermarkets!
Wed 27th Jan 2010 03:26pm
Just for the record, Guru Ted has begun making cheese at home. So far I've made Paneer, Halloumi, Fetta, Blue Vein, Camembert, Ricotta and Mozzarella.
I've uploaded a few cheese-making photos on to my blog here...
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