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How to Make Stilton Cheese at Home
Blue-Mold Stilton Cheese
What Makes A True Stilton Cheese
Stilton is considered one of the best blue-mold cheeses on earth. It was developed in Leicestershire and parts of Nottinghamshire, England, and today you will find it on the most critical of cheese-critics platters world wide. The name Stilton legally only applies to those cheeses made in the "shires" of England that have been protected by English law. In this article the cheese being made is referred to as Stilton, but actually is a Stilton-like cheese, because to be called Stilton, it must abide by the aforementioned British laws; which obviously it will not.
Stilton Cheese Flavor Profile
The true Stilton Brit has a smooth texture and distinct flavor of Cheddar, while allowing the musty spices of a softer, blue-veined cheese to shine through.
When making your Stilton cheese at home, be sure to remember that even the slightest variation in timing, stirring, washing or setting, can make your Stilton cheese product quite different in flavor, aroma, and texture.
What To Serve With Stilton Cheese
This recipe for Stilton is easier than most of the blue-mold cheese recipes you'll find these days. Commercial Stilton cheese wheels measure around 16 pounds, possibly making your handmade Stilton round seem inadequate— rest assured you will happily match the flavor of your homemade Stilton with any store bought brand, and with pride! When the time comes to serve-up your masterpiece, be sure to pair it with sweeter fruits, milder vegetables, greens, and breads that offer a sweet counterpoint.
What The Heck Is Rennet
INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING STILTON CHEESE
- 2 gallons (7.6 L) whole milk
- 2 cups (500ml) light cream, (25 to 40% fat)
- 1/8 teaspoon Penicillium Roqueforti, (strain of mold that causes the striations in your Stilton))
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (enzyme that encourages milk to coagulate), diluted in 1/4 cup (60ml) of cool water
- 2 tablespoons cheese salt
Your STILTON CHEESE Timeline from Beginning to End
Stilton is a moderately easy cheese to make. It does take some handwork, patience, and most importantly time.
BEGINNING TO END
- ≈ 5 hours for heating and ripening
- ≈ 2 hours for molding
- 3 - 15 hours (overnight) for setting
- ≈ 3 days for draining
- ≈ 3 months for curing (as many as 6 months)
This timeline will vary from recipe to recipe, but as a general rule, this framework will suffice.
- Mats or small towels for air drying cheese (good old fashion sushi mats work marvelously!)
- Cheesecloth for draining and handling cheese
- Stilton is an air dried cheese, so cheese sealing wax is not required
Be sure to spray and wipe down any tools, surfaces, and equipment with vinegar to prevent foreign molds from contaminating your Stilton. Neglecting this one task will make for a tragic outcome!
Cheese-making Supplies and Equipment
EQUIPMENT (it is best to use stainless steel when you can find it)
- Curd knife, to cut the curds
- Long-handled slotted spoon and ladle, for stirring
- Whisks, for stirring and turning curds
- Thermometer (a dairy thermometer is best)
- Measuring spoons, and cups (for liquid and dry measure)
- A 2-pound cheese mold (or equivalent of a 2-pound mold)
- Double boiler, cheese board, 9X9 cake pan, colander
- Cheese press, or items used for pressure and draining curds (a board & a 5-pound weight)
How Will You Rate This Stilton Recipe?
DRAINING AND PRESSING THE CURDS
Line a colander with a large double-thick piece of cheesecloth, you want it to be big enough to wrap the cheese completely when done. Using a big slotted spoon, transfer the curds into the colander; then allow them to rest for 1 hour.
Tie the corners of the cloth together forming a bag around the curds, and slide a dowel or chopstick under the knot. Hang the bag over the milk pot, held up by the dowel. Allow the curds to drain for another 30-40 minutes—until the whey stops dripping.
Move the bag of curds to a shallow bowl (or cheese press). Top the curds with a board, then a 5-pound weight. Let the cheese rest for 12 - 15 hours, or overnight. It is important that the cheese is in a draft-free area of your kitchen.
A Very Simple Tutorial For Making Stilton Cheese (Thank you Gavin Webber for making a great video for me to use!)
Lets Get Making Stilton Cheese
HEATING AND ADDING CULTURE
Using a double boiler, blend together the milk and cream until they slowly reach 88°F. Gently stir in the starter culture, turn off the heat. Allow the milk to ripen covered and undisturbed for 45 minutes.
ADDING RENNET, COOKING & CUTTING CURDS
Add the liquid rennet to ¼ cup cool water and gently stir this liquid into the cultured milk using a wire whisk to make certain all of the ingredients are blended. DO NOT STIR THE MILK VIGOROUSLY. Cover the pot and let the milk ripen undisturbed for 1½ - 2 hours, or until no curds cling to the knife when you cut into them. Cut the curds into ½-inch cubes and let them rest for 20 minutes. The whey will rise to the top.
MILLING AND SALTING THE CURDS
Remove the weight and board, and take the curds out of the cloth as a single mass. Place the cheese mass into a large bowl. Using a curd knife cut the curds into 1- 1½ inch cubes. In a measuring cup mix together 2 tablespoons of salt with ¼ teaspoon blue-mold powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the curds and blend them together with a slotted spoon or your hands, until all of the curds are coated with the salt and powder.
MOLDING AND DRAINING THE CHEESE
Give yourself 3 days for molding and draining the Stilton. Place a cheese board in a shallow draining pan. Top the board with a cheese mat, followed by a 2-pound mold. Ladle the curds into the mold, cover it with another mat and a board or saucer.
Let the Stilton drain for 1½ hours, making sure to turn it every 30 minutes—3 times in all. Allow the cheese to set for 12 - 15 hours or overnight. Let it continue to drain for the next 3 days, turning the mold every 10 hours or so. This will insure that the liquid remaining inside the your cheese gets distributed evenly throughout the inner body of the cheese. Nothing is worst then having one end of your cheese dry and one end far too moist.
Your Stilton cheese is ready to begin aging.
AGING YOUR HOMEMADE STILTON CHEESE
Remove the cheese from its mold and run a sterile ice pick through the cheese from one flat side to the other, in several places starting at the center, moving toward the outer edge in a circular pattern. Place the pierced cheese on a flat plate or rack that has been topped with a cheese mat. Place the cheese in a cool room or refrigerator where the temperature and climate is controlled. Age this cheese at 50°F and at 85% humidity.
A covered plastic container can be used to maintain the proper humidity. This box stored inside your refrigerator will maintain an approximate 85 to 95% humidity with the cheese contained within it, which will allow for your Stilton's graceful aging.
Wine Fridge And Aging Cheese
I have a small wine refrigerator that has adjustable temperature and humidity settings. It makes a great controlled environment for aging my homemade cheeses!
Scraping To Keep Your Cheese Healthy
Once weekly, gently scrape off the heavy surface mold or slime with a butter knife. Air circulation is critical in the forming of blue-veins inside and on the surface of your Stilton cheese. Age your Stilton for a minimum of 90 days before you taste it; it will be full of flavor, yet somewhat mild with a less then creamy texture.
If you are anything like me, you will prefer a stronger, creamier Stilton. This will require continued aging and intermittent taste-testing about every 30 days, and for as many as 6 months.
What You Think Really Does Matter!
Which of these cheeses do you like best?
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