Cheesemaking: How To Make Alpine Tomme

This recipe will be made with 2 gallons of milk. However, if you want to make a 4-gallon batch it can be a lot better because it seems larger formats ripen a lot easier. The smaller batch size can be easier for home cheese makers.



What You Need

2 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
1/2 Packet C201 Thermophilic Culture
1.75 ml (1/4 + 1/8 tsp) 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.

The culture being used here is a Thermophilic Culture (C201) made up of two types of bacteria. These have an optimum temperature of 108-112°F but you will start them working at the lower temperature end of their range. This will give them a slower start which is in line with the long acid development phase for this cheese and will be helpful in preserving the calcium in the curd resulting in a more elastic curd.

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 90 minutes so that the culture can get to work.

2. After 90 minutes of ripening, add about 1.75ml of the single strength liquid 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. Begin by breaking up the curd with two vertical cuts at a right angle about 3/4-1 inch apart. It will look like a checkerboard. Now allow the curd to sit for 3-5 minutes while the cut edges heal slightly. Some whey may rise to the surface as well as in the cuts as this happens.

The next cut can be considered to be the most difficult. You need to cut the columns of curd into even sized pieces.

The final cut will be between 1/4-3/8 in. You can do this with a spoon of a flat ladle.

4. Now is the time to cook the curds. Once you have cut the curds to the desired size, you can begin using a spoon to slowly keep the curds separate. Stir the curds slowly for 5-10 minutes, just enough to dry the surfaces slightly and firm the curds for the cooking to follow. Now reheat to 92F if the temperature has decreased.

The process of heating the curds can be done quite like when making Gouda. We need to process to slow the acid development. This will effectively reduce the lactose supply and limit the food supply for the culture, which will make it a sweeter cheese:

– Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the vat/pot
– Remove about 25% of the whey
– While stirring add back the same amount of hot water (120-130°F) slowly over about 20 minutes
– The final temperature should be about 108-110°F.

Once you have reached this point, the curds can be stirred for another 15-20 minutes to reach their final dryness.
5. When the final curd is ready, allow the curd mass to settle and remove the whey down to the level of the curd mass.

You can do this by spreading the draining cloth on the bottom and placing the curd mass into the cloth, the corners being ready to remove the entire curd mass to the mold. The reason for this consolidation in the whey is to help get a very tight curd mass so that there will be few mechanical openings in the final cheese. It is a character which all the Alpine-style cheeses have.

After this, transfer the curds to the molds by opening the cloths and pressing firmly into the mold. Pull up on the cloth to remove wrinkles and prepare to press the cheese.

6a. The cheese is now ready to be pressed.

These measurements are for 2-gallon sized batches but you can double these weights if you are doing a 4-gallon batch.

As always pressing needs to begin lightly and you must slowly increase the press weight to a moderate level:

– 30 minutes at 20lbs.
– 30 minutes at 40lbs
– 3 hours at 50lbs
– 3 hours with no weight but keep warm still

There is usually very little acid produced at the beginning of pressing so there will be a lot of lactose left in the cheese mass. This means that they must be fermented before the cheese is salted to avoid late fermentation problems in the aging. In turn, the temperature must be kept warm 80-85F to allow the culture to complete its work and ferment the remaining lactose.

6b. The rate of whey running off should be a matter of drops and not a stream. This is a good rate of whey removal during pressing and will slow even more as the residual free moisture is released. At the beginning of pressing there is very little acid produced so there is a lot of lactose left in the cheese mass. This must be fermented before the cheese is salted to avoid late fermentation problems in the aging. Therefore the temperature must be kept warm 80-85F to allow the culture to complete its work and ferment the remaining lactose.

7. Saturated brine is needed for the salting of the cheese, here is a simple brine formula:

– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1 Tbs calcium chloride
– 1 tsp white vinegar
– Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55F before using.

When the cheese cools enough it can be floated in the brine for 1.5-1.75 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.

8. Now it is time to age the cheese. You can place it into the aging room at 52-56F and 85-90% moisture. Age the cheese for around 2-3 weeks, after this time, the rind will have formed and olive oil can be added to the surface to discourage mold as well as making it easier to remove if it does appear. The cheese can now be aged for a further 3-6 month and it will be then ready for serving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *