An all-purpose semi-hard Italian cheese with a firm texture and a mild, smoky flavor. The thin, hard rind is golden-yellow and shiny.
- In a large cheese pot, slowly heat 2 gallons of milk to 86°F.
- Once the milk has reached temperature, add the starter by sprinkling it over the surface of the cheese and allowing it to rehydrate for 1 full minute. Stir it in using smooth, steady up-and-down motions. Add the diluted lipase using the same methods.
- Cover the milk and allow to ripen for 45 minutes, maintaining the temperature at 86°F throughout.
- Chill the remaining milk to 35°F in a freezer or by putting it in a plastic or glass container and packing it in ice. Once the temperature has dropped to 35°F, add the diluted citric acid and stir well.
- Add the chilled milk to the ripened warm milk and bring the temperature back up to 86°F.
- Add the diluted rennet to the warm milk by pouring it through the holes of a cheese spoon and into the milk, then stirring it in with the cheese spoon using steady up-and-down motions for 1 full minute. Let the milk set for 15 minutes undisturbed, until the curd gives a clean break.
- Cut the curd into ½-inch cubes and let rest for 5 minutes, undisturbed.
- Begin increasing the temperature of the curds and whey incrementally over 30 minutes up to 118°F. This should work out to about 1°F per minute. Stir intermittently to keep the curds from matting or sticking together.
- Allow the curds to rest again, this time for 15 minutes.
- Pour them into a clean colander and drain for 15 minutes. while the curds are draining, heat a large pot of water to 145°F.
- After draining, cut the curds again, this time into 1-inch cubes. Prepare a medium bowl of ice water to chill the stretched curd in before continuing on to the next step.
- Scoop a ladleful of curds into the heated water. Let them soak there in the water until their temperature reaches 130°F. Next, using your hands, begin stretching the curd using swift upward motions until it becomes smooth and shiny. Try to work swiftly, dipping the lump back into the hot water if it loses its elasticity. Shape the lump of cheese into a smooth ball or pear shape, and drop it into the bowl of icy water. Repeat this process – heating, stretching, shaping, and chilling – until you have used up all the curds.
- Use the filtered water and cheese salt to make a saturated brine and chill it. Soak the cheeses in the chilled brine for 1-3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Take the cheeses out of the brine and pat dry with clean paper towels. Rub cheeses with a small amount of olive oil (or any type of food-grade oil you have) and tie up in heavy twine for hanging.
- Hang cheeses in a cool, dark place at 55°F and 85% humidity for 2-3 weeks. After this period, wash them off lightly with a piece of cheesecloth dipped in a light brine solution, pat them dry with a clean paper towel, and wax. Re-hang the waxed cheeses to age at 45°F for 3 months to a year, depending on the level of sharpness desired.
Makes 3½ pounds.
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