What You Need
2 Gallons of Milk (Not Ultra-Pasteurized)
1 Packet C101 Mesophilic Culture
1/2 Tsp (2.5 ml) Single Strength Liquid Rennet
Calcium Chloride (for Pasteurized Milk)
What To Do
1. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 92F. To do this, place the milk in a container and then place it in a large pot of very warm water. If you heat it on the stove, be sure to heat it slowly and stir it as it heats if you heat it on the stove.
Once you are done heating the milk, you can add the culture. The powder can become very cakey and sink in clumps so to prevent this, sprinkle the culture over the surface of the milk and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the powder to re-hydrate before you stir it in. After stirring, let the milk sit for a further 30 minutes so that the culture can get to work.
2. After 30 minutes of ripening, add the about 2.5ml of single strength rennet. Stir the rennet in for about a minute in a slow up and down motion. The rennet will begin to coagulate the curd, let it sit for another hour. You will see the milk thicken after around 20 minutes, but it still needs the full hour for a proper curd to form.
One way to check for a good card, insert a knife into the curd at a 45-degree angle and lift slowly until the curd breaks. The edges should break cleanly and the whey that will rise should be clear, not cloudy.
Remember to utilize coagulation times by sanitizing the cheese molds and draining boards.
3. The curd is now ready to be cut to release the whey. You can begin to cut it into 1/2-5/8 inch pieces as evenly as possible, using a knife to make vertical cuts.
Stir the curds gently enough to keep them separated for about 5 minutes. This will allow for the curd surface to harden enough for a long stir. Make sure you allow the curds to settle for about another 5 minutes to allow the whey to rise.
Begin to stir the curds consistently for the next 15 minutes and bring the temperature back up to 92F if it has dropped.
The curds will appear to be soft and show very little structure, while the whey may be opaque.
4. You can now begin to dry out the curds. This can be done by increasing the heat slowly to 102F. You need to increase the temperature at the rate of 3-5F per 5 minutes at the beginning, making the total cooking time 20 minutes, but may be extended if the curds are still soft.
You should examine the curds to make sure enough moisture has been removed. Broken curds should be firm throughout and the curds should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers.
The curd is ready when a handful of curds pressed together easily separate with a little pressure from the thumb. At this point, the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey.
5. The whey should first be removed to the curd surface in the vat. You can transfer the curds to a colander lined with butter muslin. Allow them to be drained for a few minutes, gently stirring the curds will make sure the whey drains off.
Once you have released all the free whey, fold the drainage cloth over and turn the cheese mass to allow it to consolidate. Then place another identical tub with no holes on top and add 1/2-3/4 gallons of water. This is to keep the curd warm and to help with consolidating the curd mass.
6. At this point, the final acidity has developed and some calcium will be leached from the curd and flow off into the whey. The structure of the curd will also begin to change.
In about 5-6 hours check on the curd to see how the acid development is going. The final acid being pH=5.2-5.3 TA%=.45-.55 and more whey is expelled. The longer you let the curd develop, the more it is turned and the drier it will become.
Once the curd has ripened, you should see a change in its structure. It will be well consolidated and flatter. When you break it, you should see an elongated individual curd profile.
7. This is the fun part. Slice the ripened curd into a heat safe bowl or pan in 1/4 inch strips. This will allow for faster heating.
Add a small amount of hot water into the side of the bowl, just enough to cover the curds. Be sure to keep the curds separate.
When the curd begins to visibly stretch a bit, it is time to change the water temperature. Empty the water from the curd and add fresh hot water. This will make the curd easier to stretch and begin to mold into one mass. Begin to stretch the curd by lifting it with a wooden spoon. Do it several times, folding the curd back and forth on itself. Add more hot water if it becomes difficult to stretch.
When you notice the lumps disappearing and the curd appears to be smoother, you can now begin stretching the curds with your hands. Dipping your hands in cold water will make this process less painful (the curd will be at 135-140F). A few nice long stretches will be good enough.
8. Now it is time to form and shape the cheese. Be sure to dip your hands in very cold water first. – Fold the cheese into a flat square, then push down on all of the edges to form a bag shape.
– Fold the cheese into a flat square, then push down on all of the edges to form a bag shape.
– Stuff these edges into the center of the cheese as you squeeze the neck of the bag closed. Keep reheating the cheese as needed.
– Continue to push and stuff into the center opening as you narrow the neck into a nice topknot.
– You will find that the hot curd will have a tendency to sag, so keep it moving and reshape as you go. Your initial shape should be more like a ball with a narrow topknot. If you have not been dipping your hands in cold water, you are probably in pain by now.
– Once you have a nice smooth surface and the shape you want, it is time to cool the mass in cold water but first, let the cheese to hang briefly and gravity will change the ball shape into a beautiful pear shape. Immediately chill the cheese in cold water, but do not allow it to rest on the bottom because it will be reshaped there. The cheese will be somewhat buoyant in the water but will still rest on the bottom otherwise.
9. You will need saturated brine for the salting process, a simple brine formula being:
– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1tbs. calcium chloride
– 1 Tsp. white vinegar
– Bring the brine to 50-55°F before using.
When the cheese cools enough it can be floated in the brine for 2-3 hours brine time per lb of cheese. If you want moister cheese, use less time. Due to the brines high density, the cheese will float in the brine. Be sure to turn the cheese at least once during the soaking.
10. Once you remove the cheese from the brine, it is time to be “strung up”. You can use a piece of twine or another type of string that will not cut into the cheese surface, tie a loop around the smaller knot end of your caciocavallo and hang it in a cool dry place to age a bit. More time will be needed for drier cheese but give them at least 6 weeks or more.