Meeting — 2013 Holiday Party at Balfour Farm

Our next meeting was our annual Holiday Party at Balfour Farm in Pittsfield on Monday, December 10th. We enjoyed pot luck lunch items and things that went well with tasting our NINE differentHoliday Havarti examples made by members in October.

Every year the Maine Cheese Guild asks members to make the SAME cheese recipe at the SAME time of the year with their own milk and methods. The goal is to have that cheese reasonably ripened by our Holiday Party at the beginning of December. At the party we display all the cheeses, then taste every one, and inevitably no two cheeses are exactly alike. It proves that cheese can be a very individual product, and even when two cheese makers start with the same recipe and ingredients, there are many small and subtle decisions made in the vat, as well as during aging, that can make significant differences in the end product.

This year we chose to make a WASHED CURD* cheese style called “Havarti” after the Danish town of Havarthigaard north of Copenhagen. It is known for its mild creamy flavor with big buttery notes, and a soft texture with many “eyes” throughout the cheese, which are formed by a gassy culture called Leuconostoc mesenteroides. Normal production ends with the cheese being either waxed or vacuum sealed in plastic for aging. It can, however, develop a natural rind through washing and encouragement of the same molds that make traditional “stinky” cheeses: Epoisse, Brick, Muenster, etc. The buttery notes in these cheeses were so prominent that when we tasted the washed rind versions of Havarti, everyone had the same impression of a “lobster” flavor, probably because the rich butter notes and the mild sulphur notes replicated the flavor of cooked lobster dipped in butter. It was quite yummy.

*WASHED CURD cheeses are made by removing a portion of the whey mid-way through stirring the curds, and replacing the whey with the same amount of hot water. This does two things — it raises the temperature of the curds (forcing whey out), and it reduces the lactose in the whey (and thus in the curds) so that there is LESS for the cheese cultures to eat during aging, and thus less lactic acid is produced, making a mild cheese, and contributing to a soft and pliable texture. Another well known washed curd cheese style is Gouda.

We will post photos of the cheese soon. Thanks to all the Guild members who participated and drove through some dicey weather to celebrate the holidays with lots of Havarti. And thanks to Balfour Farm for hosting a terrific party.

Holiday Havarti Recipe

It’s finally here! Bring yours to the Holiday Party on December 10th to taste how different makers make different cheese.

That means we all have to make our cheese at the same time: the week of October 15th should give enough time for it to age. Ready, set….

If you’re licensed, and you’re willing to donate your left-overs to the Guild after the party, we’ll be selling them to Maine cheese retailers as a Guild fundraiser.

Good luck and have fun!


Here’s a link to a PDF file of the Havarti Recipe for better printing.


From Dave Potter (DCI) Workshop, ACS Conference 2012

Milk should be around 4.8% butterfat; add cream if necessary.

Heat treat milk, then bring to 90degF

Add culture @ 5 DCU per 100 pounds milk: Probat 222, OR CHN 22, OR Mesophilic Aromatic B, OR MM100 plus LM57, OR Flor Danica that’s been cultured overnight

Add Calcium Chloride at rate of 30ml/1000 pounds of milk

Add color (optional) at rate of 3ml/1000 pounds of milk

After 45 minute ripening cultures, add rennet (single strength at 75ml/1000 pounds milk) diluted 40x

Measure floculation and wait 2.5x to 3x (firmer to softer cheese) — around 45 minutes total from renneting — before cutting.

Cut into 3/8″ pieces, then let heal for 5 minutes.

Stir slowly for 20 minutes.

Remove whey = to 1/3 original milk volume.

Add hot water (145degF) in same amount as removed to raise the vat temp to 102degF final cook temp.

Stir 30 minutes

Remove 40% of whey (which is less than the first remove).

Stir until curd is “firm curd” and a handful starts to stick together well, another 30 minutes, typically ending 90 minutes after cutting.

Hoop every mold, then immediately turn every cheese and place with the follower DOWN so it presses itself by its own weight. Ideally it drains in the bottom of an empty vat to keep the curd temp up.

Turn every 15 minutes for an hour.

Turn every hour until the pH is 5.8 – 6.0.

(If you’re making 20 pound wheels, you may want to chill your cheese overnight in a 50degF acidified (pH 5.2) water bath with 2oz/1000 pounds water of CaCl added.)

Otherwise place in saturated brine for 2.5-3.0 hours per lb. of cheese depending on desired salt content. Alternatively, rub cheese wheels with coarse flake dry salt once per day for each 3-4 lb. of cheese.

Air dry the cheese until it can be waxed, or vacuum sealed.

Wheels are aged at 50-55degF and 85-90% RH

If you wish to have a natural rind you will need to wash it with a coarse cloth or semi-firm brush dipped in 2-3 % brine solution. The solution is applied every other day and the cheeses are turned over. After approx. 30 days it is possible wash and turn the cheeses every 3-4 days. At this time the rind should be turning the characteristic orange color, which indicates the growth of Brevibacterium linens. After 60 days it is possible to use a dry brush for cleaning.