Bel Paese is a cheese that goes well with just about anything and in Italy is known as an “essential table cheese” as it’s the go-to choice for snacking cheeses.
Yield: 2 pounds
Aging: Under 2 months
Skill Level: Intermediate
- 2 gallons of milk
- 1/64 tsp Geotrichum Candidum
- 1/16 tsp MA011 Culture
- 1/32 tsp MM100 Culture
- 1/16 tsp TA061 Culture
- ¼ tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
- Salt and Calcium Chloride for Brine Solution
- Calcium Chloride if using pasteurized milk
- M3 Cheese Mold
Heat the Milk & Add Culture
- Heat your milk up to 102F
- You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and stir to avoid burning.
- When it reaches 102F you can start to add your culture in. Sprinkle on the surface for 2 minutes before stirring in
- Allow it to ripen for 60 minutes
- Slowly heat the milk up to 108F in about a span of 10 minutes
- Add the liquid single strength Rennet
- Stir the mixture slowly for a couple of minutes
- Allow it to rest for an additional 20 minutes
- During this time, you will see that the milk will begin to thicken and firm.
Cut the Curd
- After 20 minutes, your curd should be ready to be cut, if not, allow it to sit for longer
- Cut the curd in a checkerboard formation with cutting vertically and then horizontally carefully and evenly throughout the curd mass. The cuts should be about ⅜ of an inch or the size of a chickpea
- Allow it to rest for a couple of minutes.
- Stir gently for another 5 minutes to ensure that the curds are separated
Cook the Curds
- To dry out the curds and cook them, you need to gently stir them at 108F for 25-30 minutes depending on how soft the curds are. If they’re softer, they need more time
- The curds should be well cooked through and enough moisture removed. When this is reached, allow the curds to settle.
- Using a ladle, start removing the whey until there’s about 2 inches above the curd mass.
- Collect the curds in a butter muslin or cheesecloth to prepare for pressing
Press the Cheese
- The initial pressing of your cheeses should just simply start with using your hands. Place the collected curds in the cheesecloth in the cheese mold and then using your hands, press on the folded cheese cloth to set the cheese
- After a few minutes, the cheese should be ready to be unwrapped and turned before re-wrapped
- Now is when you should start adding weight to your cheese press. Start by adding 5-8 lbs. at first and make sure the cheesecloth is pulled up well and smooth
- You should unwrap and turn the cheese about 5 times in the first 30-45 minutes of pressing your cheese
- After an hour or two, the weight can be removed
- Allow it to rest for 6-7 hours
Salting the Cheese
- Place your cheese in a brine solution for about 1-1.25 hours per pound of cheese.
- Sprinkle salt on the side the floating up at the top
- Flip halfway through the brining time and re-salt the cheese
- At the end, wipe the cheese down to dry and allow it to rest for a day or two.
- Allow you cheese to age in a location that’s between 52-56F and 90-95% humidity.
- A covered container such as a covered cake stand may be beneficial to keep the moisture levels consistent.
- In about 5-8 days you may need to do a light brine wash every 3-5 days to wipe away the greasy texture. You should repeat this every few days for the next 3 weeks
- You will notice a thin white mold covering the cheese later. Wash off with a 5% brine solution and then dry.
Wrap it in wax paper and store in an aging location that’s 40F for another 2-3 weeks until ready to eat.