Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Way to Make Blue Cheese for Home Use

                 In the past several months I have developed quite an addiction to blue cheese crumbles on my salads.  In the past year I gave up salad dressings and found that one tablespoon of small blue cheese pieces and crumbs (aka crumbles) on my salad is not only fewer calories but by virtue of the strong and sharp flavor, but it makes me perfectly happy.   It is particularly good on the greens I grow myself.  My favorite are my home grown lettuce varieties, with small apple pieces and about a tablespoon of blue cheese crumbs.
                I haven't been paying a lot for blue cheese crumbles as I am not consuming them all that quickly, but I did wonder this week how I could continue this addiction, should the price of blue cheese skyrocket.I found an excellent recipe for blue cheese you might wish to try.


The general directions and the pictures between the two sets of undulating lines are the sole work product of
WikiHow and were found at:    

 http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Blue-Cheese

I have summarized some of it.

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Photo: Wikihow.com





You'll need:

1. Cold drained curds from Farmer's Cheese

2. 2 tsp. table salt

3. 1/4 cup cool clean water

4. A pan of hot water

5. Clean new Phillips screwdriver that you will need to sterilize by boiling for ten minutes.
     (The Wiki people sterilized theirs using vodka)

6.  Clean cotton cloths you will need to sterilize by ironing.

7.  Food thermometer which reads 50-100 Fahrenheit (or 0-45 degrees Centigrade)

8. Clean vinyl gloves

9.A small amount of blue cheese.  (Saga blue is recommended.)


1. Start with one package of Farmer's cheese, made from about 2 gallons of milk
    You should drain the water from it while it sits in the frij.




2.  Next, place the salt on top and mix to create small crumbles, the size of baked beans.



3.   Then mix a quarter cup of cool clean water in a blender with a bit more than a teaspoon of new, clean, uncontaminated blue cheese.  (Again, Saga Blue variety has been specifically recommended, but I used blue cheese from Kroger, called "Private Selection".)    This will create a smooth liquid we will call "the inoculum" because we inoculated the water with the specific bacteria found in the commercial blue cheese.


4. Then, pour your inoculum over your salted curds and mix well with a fork.


Photo:  Wikihow.com



5.  Fashion yourself a cheese press by  lining a dish with a sterile cloth.   Then place your cheese inside. The press can be fashioned as above using rubber or other types of bungees. The glass jar should exert pressure on the cheese overnight.   The objective is to extract water while leaving some air inside the cheese.




Photo Wikihow.com



6.   The following morning,  sterilize your new screwdriver, either by boiling for ten minutes continuously and then allowing to cool before use, or by soaking in vodka, then drying the phillips screwdriver thoroughly.  Create air holes with your sterile screwdriver, about every quarter inch on the top of the cheese.  It is important not to introduce any other type of bacteria or mold into the cheese or the holes.  I used thin vinyl gloves for this part.



7.  Rub the surface slightly with salt.  Then cover with another sterile cloth.  The cheese should sit in a refrigerator which is set at 50 degrees F (or 10 C)    It should be in an area where plenty of air can circulate around the cheese. You do need a refrigerator thermometer.  The frij should be 70% humidity.  You can buy a hygrometer and test this.  To increase the humidity if necessary, place a dish of  clean water in the frij. If the humidity is not high enough, the cheese will dry out.  If it is too wet, it could become moldy.    Turn the cheese daily. If the cloth becomes wet, then replace it with another sterile cloth. Do this for about ten days.


Photo: Wikihow.com



8.   Look for a white "bloom" on the cheese.   If the bloom covers the holes, you will need to make the holes larger, with your resterilized phillips screwdriver to permit air circulation.  Then keep turning your cheese for two more weeks or until the characteristic blue coloring emerges. This should appear on both the inside and outside of the cheese.

Remove the cheese following a total refrigerator time of two months.  It can be aged longer, but this is unnecessary.    Notice the natural penicillium which has grown to provide this cheese with its characteristic color.


Photo: wikihow.com

Voila !  Blue cheese !     Photo: wikihow.com

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CAUTION:     People who are allergic to penicillin or other molds may occasionally react to blue cheeses.  Make sure that when you sample this and other blue cheeses that you do so cautiously before eating very much of it.  Those with known mold allergies should talk to their allergist before trying blue cheese from any source.

Should you be unable to wait two months for the flavor of blue cheese on your salad, it is possible to buy a powdered blue cheese, a bit like powdered Parmesan, only with blue cheese. They have other varieties as well:

     Firehouse Pantry






6 comments:

Sandy said...

Jane,

I love blue cheese myself. This is a recipe I will try in the near future.

You mentioned all kinds of leafy lettuce and apples as part of your salad. I will be planting about 6 to 8 different varieties of lettuce in the garden this year. We all love salads here.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Sandy,
I have felt much better simply having a large salad of home grown greens with fine apple chopped in it and about a tablespoon (sometimes a little more) of blue cheese. Even the cat thinks it looks good ! Thanks for posting.

Mamma Bear said...

I did not know you could use store bought blue cheese for a culture to start more blue cheese. I make yogurt and buttermilk by starting out with yogurt and buttermilk from the stores.. I can also use buttermilk for some cheese cultures as well. Thanks for the very interesting post. I do love me some blue cheese.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting Mamma Bear,
Right now I can still buy generic cheese crumbles which are perfectly adequate for a bit over $2.00 a package and they last us a couple of weeks, so making blue cheese it not really a necessity now. However, in the future I may need to make more things than I do now. I haven't found that making soap has been cost effective. I haven't found that I can make good Italian sauce more cheaply than I can buy it. I do make frozen quiches and frozen pizzas more cheaply than I can buy the good ones. However, things can change and I may find that each day I need to make something that I used to buy more cheaply.

Linda said...

This was very interesting. I got to the end and read "two months." I suppose you cannot just want bleu cheese and whip some up...lol. I don't think making lots of things are cost effective!

I love bleu cheese. But the statement about people who are allergic to penicillin caught my attention.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, I think those who have a penicillin allergy should ask their physicians before eating any blue (ou en Francais, fromage bleu) cheese. I don't choose to make many things at home because it isn't as cost effective as some of my sources, however, if that changes for any reason, I really enjoy the empowerment of knowing that I can make blue cheese, soap, laundry detergent, household cleaners, or anything else I need. I like having choices.