Cheesemaking: How To Make Brick Cheese
What You Need
4 Gallons of Milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/2 tsp MM100 or 1 Packet C21 Buttermilk Culture (30-40% less culture for raw milk)
1/16 tsp C10 Bacteria Linens
3/4 tsp (3.75ml) Liquid Rennet
Salt for Brine
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 88F. 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 and Bacteria Linens. 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 10 minutes. This is such a short ripening time because we need to have very slow acid development to produce a sweet cheese.
2. Now, add around 3/4 tsp of single strength liquid rennet.
Let the milk sit for 30 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. The milk will begin to thicken in around 15 minutes but you need to wait the full 30 minutes until you see a good curd.
The thermal mass of the milk will keep it warm during the 30 minutes but it is fine if the temperature drops a few degrees during this time.
3. Now is time to cut the curds and release the whey. Start by cutting the curd into 3/4-1 inch squares, then allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes for the cuts to heal. The curd will still be very soft which will prepare it for a more even cut size.
For the second cut, cut the curd into 3/8 – 1/2 inch pieces as evenly as possible. Let it sit again for 5 minutes, being sure to give it a very gentle stir every minute or so to keep it from matting.
At this point, the curd will remain quite soft and will slump back into a single mass at this point, so gentle stirring is needed until it becomes a lot firmer.
The whey will also have begun to rise, so stir it for 10 minutes. During this time, the curd will begin to firm up.
4. This is the step to begin drying out the curds. You can do this by slowly increasing the heat from 88F to 100F over 45-60 minutes. The time is long to make sure the curd is very dry. Giving the curd a slow and consistent stir will keep the curds from breaking but at the same time, it will encourage the whey to be released.
5. This part is very important for slowing the acid production required for the sweet cheese body.
You need to allow the curds to settle and remove 25% of the original milk volume (1 gallon) as whey. This will deprive the bacteria of lactose while slowing the acid development).
Be sure to add back cool water at 65F immediately until the curd temperature drops to 85F.
Continue to stir until the curd is firm enough to mold. Make sure that the final curds are cooked well through and examine them to make sure that enough moisture has been removed. Broken curds should be firm throughout and when you press them between your fingers, there should be moderate resistance.
If there is too much moisture, the cheese will develop late acid and the texture will be pasty in the aging room. If there is too little moisture, the cheese won’t consolidate well or ripen correctly because of the lack of moisture for enzyme transport.
Let the curds settle under the whey and then remove the whey down to curd level again.
6. You can now transfer the curds to a sanitized mold which is sitting on a draining mat.
– They should be allowed to drain for 15 minutes with no weight.
– Then turn for the first time at 15 min.
– Turn again for the second time and add 5 lbs weight (2.5 qt water) for the traditional brick mold of 5″x10″ (50″sq). Our large cheese mold (M2) is about this same size.
Apply the weight for 2-3 hours and then let the cheese sit in the molds overnight with no weight applied. Be sure to turn the cheese again in the mold when removing the weight.
It is important you place a damp cloth over the cheese to prevent it from drying out. Try and keep the cheese between 70-75F during this time.
7. A saturated brine is needed for salting the cheese, here is a simple brining formula:
– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1tbs. calcium chloride
– 1 tsp. white vinegar
– Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.
The final weight of the cheese will be around 4.5lbs unless you have changed the ingredient measurements.
Set the cheese in the brine for around 10 hours (2.25 hrs per lb. of final cheese). The cheese will float above the surface, so sprinkle some salt on top of the surface of the cheese. Flip the cheese and re-salt the surface about half way through the brine period.
After brining, wipe the surface and let the cheese surface dry for several hours. The surface will darken slightly during this time.
8. When it comes to aging, you can do it two different ways:
– Stronger and more traditional aromatic cheese:
Keep the brick at 68-70F and 90-95% moisture. Wash and rub it daily with light brine for 7-10 days. After this time, it should have developed good bacterial growth on the surface and should be turned for the next 7-10 days. Once those 7-10 days, wrap the cheese and store at 42F until it is ready. 2-3 months being the total ripening time.
– Milder and less pungent version
For this brick, keep it at 55F and 90-95% humidity for 2 days and wash it daily. After those 2 days, dry the cheese and wrap it and move it to cold storage.
Note: The light washing brine can be made up with about 1-2 tbs. salt to 1 cup of cool water. Begin with the lower dose and if other molds become a problem, increase the salt.