Some of you might know…. I’ve been making cheese. At home. I started out with fresh cheeses such as Mozzarella, Ricotta and fresh Chevre and then upgraded to hard cheeses.
Being French, I of course cannot just stop at fresh cheeses and simple hard cheeses. No, no. I need some mold. I need some moldy rinds, some smells and some texture. I need some wrinkles and some fuzz. Naturally, I had to try.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent fresh cheeses and complex hard cheeses out there. Some of which I probably will never be able to reproduce. But this time, I was feeling mold.
My first shot to a moldy rind was a bastardized St Maure style cheese, which is a mold ripened goat cheese. The first batch had to go to the trash. The mold didn’t grow everywhere, the cheese hardened and smelled like mushrooms. Yuk.
For the second batch, I used a different recipe, which made more sense to me and had more mold added to the milk. Sure enough, it worked. The mold grew homogeneously, the cheese softened a bit and adopted a nice, rich scent. It did not resemble any cheese I know, but it was definitely decent.
I thought to myself, if I can get mold to grow now, I can go the next level. I took a deep breath. I attempted St Marcellin.
The process was familiar to me, with some extra steps in the middle. Roughly, you have to heat up milk, add cultures and rennet and let sit overnight. In the morning you ladle the curds into the mold and start the draining process… let drain, flip the cheese, let drain, flip the cheese… about 3 or 4 times. Once you’re done draining, you let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days flipping it regularly and a nice coat of mold starts to form. Then you put it in a container with a lid and stick it in the cheese fridge at 56F for 2 weeks, flipping it every day. The cheese gets softer, moldier, smellier and wrinklier by the day.
Here’s what it looked like one week before it was ready to eat.
Traditionally, a St Marcellin is served in a little clay dish adopting the exact shape of the cheese. It helps finish the ripening process by keeping its shape (which is important, because the older it gets, the softer it gets) and retain the appropriate moisture.
Of course, I had to have that clay dish. Solution? We got a store bought St Marcellin, just to get the clay dish so I can pretend I’m all professional… haha!
My little cheese turned out looking like this:
With a moldy, wrinkly and quite pleasantly fragrant rind.
Pretty good, huh?