Blue cheese is characterized by blue or blue-green mold (courtesy of Penicillium cultures added during the cheese-making process) and a sharp, slightly salty flavor. You can enjoy an exquisite variety of blue cheese by following these instructions.
Cold drained curds from Farmer’s cheese
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. uncontaminated blue cheese
1/4 cup cool clean water
Pan of hot water
Start with cold drained curds from Farmer’s cheese made from two gallons of milk, drained, in the refrigerator. Neufchâtel should also do fine as a starting curd.
Sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of salt and mix to form pea-sized crumbles.
Use a blender to blend 1 teaspoon of uncontaminated blue cheese like “Saga Blue” with 1/4 cup of cool clean water to create a smooth suspension of cheese (the inoculum).
Pour the inoculum over the salted curds and toss to mix thoroughly.
Line the press with a sterile handkerchief, and load the curd. Press lightly so that the curds are not compressed together, but retain air spaces within the cheese. Allow it to stand in the press overnight.
Remove the curd from the press in the morning and create air holes by inserting a sterilized rod, about in diameter (6 mm), through the cheese every inch or so. This will allow air to enter the cheese which is necessary for growth of the mold. Whatever type of rod you insert must be sterilized (or at least dipped in vodka, as the screwdriver shown was). Make sure that you do not introduce bacterial contamination in these air holes.
Rub the surface lightly with salt, and place the aerated cheese on a dry sterile handkerchief. Fold the cloth over to lightly cover.
Place the cheese on a non corrosive rack to encourage air circulation around the cheese and place it in a “cool box” (e.g. refrigerator) which will hold the temperature around 10 C (50 F).
Monitor the temperature and humidity. The temperature should be around 10 C, and the humidity around 70%. Elevate the humidity with a pan of water in the bottom of the “cool box.” Since the cheese will be aged unwaxed, this high humidity is important so that the cheese does not dry out. On the other hand, if it is “dripping wet” so that the cheese “weeps,” the cheese will spoil.
Turn the cheese daily, replacing the handkerchief with a dry sterile one if it appears wet.
Look for a white “bloom” on the surface of the cheese after a week or 10 days. If the holes you made are blocked with bloom, then next time make them larger, as they are supposed to allow air to penetrate the interior of the cheese. In this case, wait an additional two weeks or until the characteristic coloring is evident on both the interior and the exterior.
Remove the finished blue cheese after two months. Note the marbling of the interior with Penicillium. It can also be aged longer, but it is utterly delicious as it is.
Boiling, or soaking something in alcohol is not the only way to sterilize it. Another way to properly sterilize an instrument is with an autoclave.(Often piercing/tattoo parlors will autoclave an item for you for a small fee.)
Alcohol will at best provide disinfection, it is better to boil whatever you are using in water. It will not be operating room sterile like autoclaving but should be good enough for cheesemaking. To sterilize cloth, iron at a very hot setting.
On very rare occasions, people who are allergic to penicillin as a drug experience negative reactions (hives, itching, or worse) to food products with penicillin or penicillin-related substances in them. If you are allergic or sensitive to penicillin, consult your doctor or allergist before trying this cheese.
Things You’ll Need
Drained curds from Farmer’s cheese or Neufchâtel (see External Links for information on each)
1 teaspoon of uncontaminated “Saga Blue” cheese (or other selected blue cheese to use as an inoculum)
Cheese press (see External Links for making your own)
Sterile clean handkerchiefs
Thermometer reading in the 0-40 C (50-100 F) range
Large Phillips screwdriver or other sterilizable rod
“Cool box” (refrigerator set to 10 C / 50 F)
How to Make Feta Cheese
How to Make Spanakopita
How to Put Together a Cheese Plate
How to Make a Traditional Greek Salad
How to Make a Cheese Log
How to Make Ricotta Cheese
How to Make Tabouli
How to Make a Watermelon Vase
How to Make Watermelon Donuts
How to Make Fried Kasseri Cheese with Cucumber Sauce
How to Make Havarti Cheese
Sources and Citations
Website of David B. Fankhauser, PhD – Original source of this information. Shared with permission.
Making your own cheese press