The Creation of Roxy
Following our success making soft, fresh goat’s milk cheese, we decided to mix things up and make a harder, aged cow’s milk cheese! Our aging rooms now house our very own washed-curd style cheese, officially dubbed “Roxy”. We used a mixture of Ayrshire and Jersey cow milk for our cheese, making it creamy and delicious! Unlike our fresh cheese, this aged cheese is made with raw milk. As we do not pasteurize the milk, the high quality really shines. Raw milk cheeses are completely safe to eat and are frequently more complex, delicious, and healthy than their heat-treated counterparts. Pasteurization actually kills many of the good microorganism found naturally in milk that give it unique flavors, so by leaving the milk raw we get a much more natural and complete taste. As the cheese is aged for over 60 days, no bad bacteria will survive so there is no danger in eating raw milk cheese.
Aging Our Hard Cheese
This particular recipe requires four to six months aging time, during which we carefully flip, monitor, and baby-sit the maturing wheels.
Making hard cheese is exciting. We got 140 gallons of beautiful milk from Hinz Sight Dairy, almost filling up our tank! We tested the milk to ensure its quality, then we got started. First, we warmed the milk a little then we added cultures to give the cheese the texture and taste we want. We then added some calcium chloride to balance the milk calcium content and ensure the curd would set firmly. Next, we added the rennet. We use liquid vegetable rennet to inspire coagulation, where the solid white curd separates from the clear and yellowish whey. Once we added the rennet, we stirred the mixture then reversed directions quickly before stopping so that the milk would become still as quickly as possible and set well.
After the curd looked well formed, we tested it by breaking it with our hands and making sure it broke cleanly, at which point we cut it up into little rice-sized pieces and drained away some whey. Whey is acidic and gives cheese a slight bitterness, so we replaced some whey with water to rinse the curd and give the cheese a sweeter and more savory flavor. We heated the water/whey/curd mixture a bit until the curd got the right texture. We didn’t want it to be too sticky, so we grabbed handfuls of curd, squeezed it gently, and checked how easily it crumbled apart again. Recipes always suggest specific times and what to look for, but really feeling the curd gives the best indication of when to move to the next step. Once the curd looked and felt perfect, we drained the whey and water mixture and scooped the curd into moulds. We pressed the cheese to remove even more liquid, then flip it and press it again.
At this point, the cheese did not have any salt in it so we soaked it in a brine bath for two days, which cures and flavors the cheese. After that, it’s a waiting game! This particular recipe requires four to six months aging time, during which we carefully flip, monitor, and baby-sit the maturing wheels. We want a nice, natural rind on our cheese, Roxy, so we did not cover it in wax or plastic. To ensure no bad molds grow on it, we wash our cheese with brine to kill off anything unwanted and keep our beautiful cheese safe and clean. Roxy should be ready to make its debut in February! Sign up for our newsletter and we will let you know when you can try it!
Washed-curd cheeses like Roxy are also known as Gouda-style. Our cheese is not Gouda – we used a different culture so it will have a different flavor and texture – but the methods we used are the same methods used to make classic Gouda. In fact, our guide through this cheese adventure was a man named Harold who is actually Dutch! He knows all about making authentic and delicious Gouda cheese and he and his wife Kathy helped us immensely.
The name Roxy means dawn or bright. As this is our first aged cheese, the idea of a fresh bright morning seemed applicable. Also, Roxy Music, the English Rock group, played a role in our selection. Roxy is our beautiful spunky cheese and we can’t wait to introduce you!