Thursday, October 14, 2010

Canestrato Cheese

This is my first attempt at Canestrato cheese, or cheese made in a basket.   I didn't have a reed basket or any kind of woven basket that was the right size and shape so I used the inside of our salad spinner.  I used a cake pan and 5lb bag of flour to press the cheese.   I guess it's not a true canestrato cheese since it was made in plastic, from goat's milk only and it wasn't made in Puglia, Italy.  I've read that in Puglia it is either made with all sheep milk or part sheep and part goat's milk.   This was made from 4 gallons of milk and, sitting on our counter like it is right now, it looks like a frosted cake.  It's a good size and very pretty.   It needs to soak in a brine solution for 2 days beginning tomorrow night and then age for 4 to 10 months.

I'd love to set up a small room in our basement where I can set the humidity and temperature and age my cheeses in the way they're meant to be cured.  Right now they're at about 10 degrees too warm (they were in the refrigerator at a temperature much too cold for the cultures to work) and I have no idea what the humidity is.  It would be a shame for all 40 lbs of cheese I have down there to be ruined because I don't have the right conditions.  I need to do some research to find out what I need to meet the needs of my gouda, derby, cheddar, manchego, canestrato, parmesan and monterey jack. 

Here they are now sitting amongst toys, books, photo albums and pottery.  Pitiful.
I'm really going to miss making cheese when we have to dry the girls up the last 2 months of their pregnancies plus the first few weeks after the babies are born.  We'll be getting just enough milk from one goat then to have it on our cereal.  Maybe I'll use that time to create a space with perfect aging conditions.  Also in that time maybe I'll find some real canestrato baskets.


  1. Karen,
    That is so pretty and yummy looking! If I know you, soon there will be a cheese curing room in the Pannabecker house! There doesn't seem to be anything you can't do! Talk about improvising...
    I sat looking at the picture trying to figure out what you used as the mold. I would have never
    guessed a salad spinner bowl! You are a genius!

    Gail L.

  2. You could use an old (preferably free) refrigerator and set the temp. to 50 degrees. I am not sure if the humidity would be correct but at least you would have the correct temp. I know how much work all that cheese is! Especially from Nigerians. I am a lurker and a friend of Providence farm. Great blog.
    Heaven Scent Farms

  3. Gail, genius? You're funny.

    Heaven Scent Farms, thanks for your comment, for lurking and for your compliment. I did try the refrigerator for a while but I couldn't get the temp. high enough without it shutting off so I had it at a lower temperature. Then I needed more storage for milk so I had to turn it back down. I'll keep trying.