Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Midwinter Bleus

Penicillium roqueforti

It's a bracing 8°F out this afternoon. We've had the ground piled up with snow for all but a couple of days since early December. My trip to Key West is coming very soon, but in the mean time, what better way to chase away the midwinter blues than by making a midwinter bleu. This is my first attempt ever at a blue cheese.

Penicillium roqueforti is the name of the mold that gives the blue color to the veining in these cheeses. It comes from the cheese supply house as a powder in a foil envelope, much the way yeast does. The powder is finer than yeast and dark black. It goes in the warmed milk right at the start of the process.

For the most part, this was similar to making Camembert, which I have now done a bunch of times. The ripening, rennetting, curd cutting and draining is all pretty similar. I actually did most of that last weekend. A lot of folks think that the blue mold is injected into the cheese. It often looks so, with the blue veining following very linear channels through the interior of the cheese. That's not what's really hapening, though. P. roqueforti needs oxygen to grow. The cheese maker pokes holes through the cheese to allow oxygen inside. The mold only grows in the channels. I did the hole poking today, using a kebab skewer. The cheese will need my attention periodically, and won't be ready to eat until sometime after Labor Day.

Poking holes in the cheese

Something that doesn't have to wait until after Labor Day is the Camembert that I made before Christmas from raw Gurnsey milk. It's ready now- and absolutely delicious. It's very rich and a beautiful color. I'm very pleased with both the snowy white exterior (courtesy of the white mold) and the rich, creamy yellow of the interior (courtesy of the high butterfat content of Gurnsey milk). This one was my best cheese to date.




At 15:30, Blogger Celeste said...

Vive la Roquefort!
Make sure you save some of that delicious looking Camembert to bring to work on Monday!!!

At 15:48, Blogger Ur-spo said...

i guess practice makes perfect and allows you to move onto other types.
Good for you!

At 16:36, Blogger Lemuel said...

You make very delicious looking cheese!

At 21:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a salad last night piled with bleu and daughter tasted and screwed her face up I said, "It's stinky cheese, it'll put hair on your chest!" She still wouldn't eat it!

Looks yummy!

At 06:09, Blogger Dr. Know said...

Question: Did the last minute stab at the French by the Bush administration have an effect on the cost of the spores?

At 08:25, Blogger R.Powers said...

Thanks! I never knew how the mold got all through the cheese.

At 08:39, Blogger Fresh Kiki said...

Wow the camenbert looks fantastic! The process of the bleu if really cool- can't wait to hear how it comes out. My Birthday gift arrived- THANK YOU!!! I would call-but I have a nasty cold and hardly any voice-I sound more like a croaking frog than your sister :-)

At 11:22, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Celeste- there's some left. It may find its way in tomorrow.

Spo- well, practice hasn't made perfect, but I am gaining more confidence.

Lem- Thanks.

Heather- LOL. I'm looking forward to seeing the blue mold beginning to develop. That hasn't yet happened.

Dr. Know- From the linked article: "They claimed that the action was a parting shot by a Bush administration still piqued by France's opposition to the Iraq war" Nah, they weren't piqued, they were piquant. It's Roquefort, after all. And the spores were purchased long before that.

FC- Neither did I. This whole cheese making thing has been very educational for me.

CG- Sorry to hear you are unwell. Get better in time for the next round of skiing. Glad the gift arrived. I'm really disappointed that the Camembert I brought home at Christmas was not as good as this. I think the problem in part is that it doesn't transport well.

At 12:50, Blogger robin andrea said...

I love knowing that you have started a cheese that won't be ready until after Labor Day. There's something both hopeful and patient about this process. I can't wait to see the results.

That is a beautiful camembert.

At 13:19, Blogger Dr. Know said...



Good luck with it in spite of the bad puns.

At 18:05, Blogger TR Ryan said...

Labor Day! Wow! But, just in time for the tiger beetle festival in Oklahoma. Hope it transports better than the Cam. 'cause I'm salivating for a piece of that bleu!

At 00:51, Blogger SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

This is a fantastic hobby Doug and by the looks of it, you are good at it.

At 15:06, Blogger Mama Meg said...

That is so cool! Does it smell strongly while you are making it?

At 16:01, Blogger cedrorum said...

You are braver than I. I wish I was brave enough try cheeses. It's amazing how nasty cheese seems, but how good it tastes.

At 21:24, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin- The blue will need my attention briefly once every 3-4 weeks until then. I can probably handle that.

Doc- Thanks.

TR- The Oklahoma tiger Beetle Festival sounds like a splendid event, with or without blue cheese.

Mezamashii- Welcome to the Tapestry! There is not a whole lot os smell during the production of either the Camembert or the blue. I suspect that the mold has to get actively growing before you can really smell it.

cedrorum- I have found myself wondering who tried these for the first time. A lot of them look yucky and spoiled and smell bad.

At 07:08, Blogger BentonQuest said...

bleu cheese is from the DEVIL!


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