Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Romano Cheese Recipe

Romano cheese is a cheese that is worth making if you are willing to wait for the end product since without the aging process all you are really making is a less pungent form of the cheese that will not grate in the same manner its aged cousin will.  Here is what you need to do to make this recipe:

To start off, partially skim the cream off the milk to get 8 gallons of partially skimmed milk.

  Next, after sanitizing my cheese vat, the thermometer, and stirring ladle, I pour all 8 gallons of milk into the vat and set it to medium-high heat on my largest burner.  Until the milk is heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I stir the milk every couple of minutes while checking the temperature.

  When the milk gets to 90 degrees.  Turn off the heat and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of thermophilic over the top of the milk.  I get my cultures, rennet, and cheese making supplies from and have found his prices to be spot on competitive.  He also has great turn around on products and wonderful customer service.

  After the culture has moistened for a minute or two, I use the ladle to draw down the culture with up and down motions about 20 times to make sure it is fully incorporated into the milk.

For this recipe, I let the culture sit in the milk for 15 minutes.  Then stir the milk again and add in a 1/2 cup of water that has been mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of rennet. Make sure to stir the rennet into the cultured milk really well, just like the culture had been stirred in, with about 20 up and down strokes, otherwise the cheese will not set properly.

  Now cover and let the pot sit for 1 hour maintaining the 90 degree temperature.  Just a note on maintaining temperature.  If you are making a small batch of cheese you will not be able to just turn off the heat and expect your cheese to maintain the same temperature unless your room is 90 degrees also.  But if you make a large batch with 8 gallons, it takes a long time for that must heat to disburse.  I have found that making larger batches is just easier for me since I have so much milk on hand and temperature maintenance is not a problem.

After 1 hour, your cheese should have set and it should look like milk jello.  

With a sanitized knife, I then cut the curd. and then let the cut curds sit for 5 minutes to firm up.

After the curds have sat, they will have given off a bit of whey.

The curds are then stirred to 5 minutes and then left to rest for 5 minutes.  After the rest period then, the heat is turned back on and the curds and whey are heated to 117 degrees Fahrenheit (this should take about 45 minutes).

At this point, the heat should be turned off and the pot covered to maintain the 117 degrees while letting the curd settle.  Leave for 30 minutes before going onto the next step.  This is when I sanitize the items I need to remove the curds and press them.

Now, with very clean hands, I scoop the curds out of the whey and put them into a stainer that is lined with a natural cheese cloth. (Be careful the 117 degrees is a bit hot on bare hands!)

Next, I just lift up the cloth and move all the curds into the tomme mold, with the cloth still around the curds, and put the mold into my cheese press with medium pressure for 1 hour.

After an hour, I take the cheese out of the cloth, turn it upside down and re-wrap it with a poly cheese cloth - it is much easier to remove the final cheese from this type of cloth then the traditional cloth, but I do use the traditional cloth for the first step because it is bigger and it makes wrapping and moving the curd a much less messy process.

Now the cheese, in the mold, sits on my counter under medium pressure for 10 hours.

  After the cheese is done with the pressing process, mix 1 cup of pickling salt with about 2 inches of cold water in a plastic container (see below).  And place the unwrapped cheese into the salt water brine.  Just a quick note, I cut my cheese into 2 pieces at this point because when I long term store my cheese for aging I vacuum seal them and the full cheese is too big for the sealing bags I use.  If you want a full round you do not have to cut your cheese in half like I do.

  The cheese should sit in the brine for a total of 20 hours - 10 hours on each side.  Then, after being in the brine all day, take the cheese out, place it on a sanitized mat and put in the refrigerator for a few days to dry.  Then flip and dry for a few more days.

  Your cheese, when completely dried, will be ready to be stored and aged for 6 months.  I promise - it is worth the wait.

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