Mar. 2012 7

Beer Washed Cheese

Last weekend I made two alpine cheeses but had problems with the cheese sticking to the cheese cloth.  This ruined the Saturday cheese, so I did some research before trying Sunday.   Deep pock marks or cracks are a real magnet for mold, so this cheese was never going to age properly.  It appears that alpine cheeses are prone to this problem due to low acidity of the curds when they are put in the press.  This makes the curd near the cloth wrap itself in the cloth fibers.  I am not really clear on the concept as I took Chemistry many, many moons ago, and Physics was more my thing.  Suggested solutions to the problem included the following:


  1. Boil the cheese cloth just prior to use to assure that it is really sterile.
  2. Soak the cheese cloth in the whey before ladling the curds into the cloth, to lower the pH (raise the acidity) of the cloth.
  3. Use a cloth with a relatively tight weave.  Loose weave cloths make it easier for the curds to entrap fibers.
  4. Make sure to redress the cheese at least once during pressing.  In other words, every so often take the cheese out of the press, unwrap it and then re-wrap to continue the pressing.


I always do number 4 anyway, but on Saturday the curds were already sticking to the cloth during the first re-wrap.  I did notice that the cloth I had used Saturday was a relatively loose weave.  Sunday I did all four of these.  The curd stuck to the cloth anyway, though not nearly as badly.  I used a fresh cloth for the re-wrap and discarded the old one that had curds sticking to it.  Monday morning when I removed the cheese from the press there was a little sticking but the surface of the cheese looked smooth enough that I think it will age well enough.  Meanwhile I ordered supplies for item 5 which I did not list above:  5. Use Plyban cheese cloth, which is a recent, plastic cheese cloth.   Advertised advantages are that it does not stick to curds and it is easier to clean.   I hope the cloth comes in before Saturday because I want to make more cheese this weekend.

Last night I started washing the rind with a beer-brine made from sea salt and Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard Ale.  I poured about half a 22 ounce bottle into a measuring cup holding about 4 tablespoons of salt:

Big Head Beer

It appears that the rough surfaces of the salt really makes the beer foam.  You can see that the Arrogant Bastard really has a big head.  (Ok so it is justified!  Great beer!)  This wasn’t all of the half bottle of beer so I switched to a larger measuring cup.

After awhile the foam settled down and I swabbed some of the solution on the cheese:

Arrogant Alpine Cheese

You can see the slightly irregular surface of the cheese and a worrisome crevice in the top center of the cheese in the above photo.  I am hoping that the salt solution will keep that crack sterile.

I have a new idea for a cheese that I picked up from a couple of friends at work that I will blog about next.


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