notes on homemade (French) Neufchâtel
This is a companion page to the post on neufchâtel fatto in casa
Recipes for making cheese at home usually require special ingredients and utensils, and background information on why and how to use them and also on cheese making in general. In all the books on making cheese at home, the preparatory information is given in introductory chapters, so that then each recipe can focus on the specific steps.
Making French Neufchâtel recently made me think again at the first cheese I ever made. I still suggest that as a good first cheese, because it calls for only one special ingredient, rennet, which can be obtained not only from several online retailers (see my resource page: Making cheese at home), but also probably from a store in your area.
The recipe by Dr. Fankhauser is fairly straightforward and it teaches patience and a few important things, like checking for a clean break, cutting the curd, draining and salting the curds. When I made that recipe, I did not mold the cheese. Don't expect a cheese with a complex flavor, but the satisfaction of having made it will make it tastier: trust me.
The main differences between that recipe and the one for French Neufchâtel in the book 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes whose result you see in the photos of the post, are:
- a pinch of Penicillum candidum is added to the milk together with the mesophilic culture (in the Fankhauser's recipe, cultured buttermilk acts as mesophilic culture)
- after 12 hours of draining in suspension, the curds are drained further via the application of a 2 lb weight
- after salting, the curds are molded and drained longer
- after the molds are removed, the cheese is placed in a container to allow the mold to develop (the telltale sign being the fuzzy bloom)
Penicillium Candidum (white mold) is used to ripen and flavor Brie, Camembert, Coulommiers, and a variety of French Goat Cheeses. It produces a nice, white bloom on the surface of your cheeses. It is highly recommended to use this in combination with Geotrichum Candidum, which helps prevent the skin from slipping off your finished cheese. [source1]
After the cheese was all covered with mold, I wrapped it in special paper:
This paper is comprised of two layers: The inner layer (cheese side) is a paraffin coated, thin, white parchment paper bonded to a 20 micron opaque, white, micro-perforated, Polypropylene layer (outer layer).
The inner layer is designed to pull moisture away from the surface of the cheese. Its paraffin coating will keep the candidum mold from growing into the paper, which would result in tearing of the surface upon opening.
The outer layer will allow gases to be exchanged while controlling the moisture loss, essentially allowing the white mold to remain active while not becoming excessive. [source1]
I recently received a new book on making cheese at home and I hope to talk about a cheese from it that I made (I made two so far, and both are in the aging stage). Also, I know that there are at least two books on making cheese at home that are slated for publication in the spring. I believe that this is an indication of increased interest in the subject by the public.
1The links are for information only: they are not advertisements. I do not have a business relationship with the company referenced.