Fromage Frais

I’ve made cheese a few times… dry curd Cottage cheese for pierogi, since I can’t buy it anywhere, and ricotta, just because it’s so easy to make from milk and a little acid. Not that I really need any additional hobbies, but I figure that cheese making fits in well with my overall interest in cooking, making things at home, and homebrew.

For Christmas last year, my parents gave me an awesome gift… a cheese making kit that included several types of bacteria culture, some rennet and calcium chloride, and a basic cheese mold. I’ve been so focused on making beer through the winter and early spring that I didn’t get a chance to dive into cheese. Until now, that is.

makin' cheese

My first cheese this year is a very simple one called fromage frais, which simply means “fresh cheese”. I’ve made it twice now, both times with good results. It’s so easy:

- in a Dutch oven, bring a gallon of milk to 77 degrees F
- add 1/4 tsp mesophillic culture.. Hydrate 5 minutes, then stir in.
- add 2 drops rennet dissolved in 1 tablespoon water. Stir in.
- let stand at RT for 12 hours.
- filter through a cheese cloth for 6-8 hours.
- salt with kosher salt, 1% by weight.

I made this with both whole milk and 2%, and I’d guess you could go 1% or even skim (it’s on my list). The first time, it stood 24 hours instead of 12–it may have picked up some additional tang/sourness due to the extended aging but it was quite delicious. On Sunday, I mixed in a handful of chopped chives, and we ate a ridiculous amount of this with crackers.

I wasn’t careful at all about sanitizing my equipment, but I’ll do a better job next time to see if the slight sourness is due to the added bacterial culture or if it’s from some lactobacillus-type bacteria present on my pot and spoon. Not that I mind the sourness at all, I’m just wondering whether this cheese is supposed to have it or not.

If you’re local to me, and you’d like to try this recipe, I can give you some of the mesophillic culture. Otherwise, order it from www.thecheesemaker.com. For my own reference, I’m including the product description of the mesophillic culture “chr-hansen CHN-22″ below.

Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
Leuconostoc
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis

Use 1/8 tsp. per 1 gallon(3.7liters), 1/4 tsp. per 2-5 gallons(7.5-18.9 liters) 1/2 tsp. per 5-10 gallons(18.9-38 liters). The culture can be used in the manufacture of the following products: soft cheese with slow acidification (Lactic cheese, Camembert, Blue Cheese), Cheese varieties with eyes (Gouda, Edam). Fermented milk products manufactured by separation method (Sour Cream, Fromage Frais, Fromage Blanc). CHN-11 will produce slightly less gas then the CHN-22 and Flora Danica, but CHN-11 is a faster acidifier. Flora Danica will yield the fullest flavor. Flora Danica and CHN-22 can be used interchangeably as the CHN-11 can be with little or no noticeable difference. However, when switching from Flora Danica and CHN-22 to CHN-11 you will need to take these properties into account.

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