Homemade French Neufchatel Cheese

Using the last gallons of milk I got out of my cow before selling her, I decided to make one more cheese I could add to the recipe index on this site.  (If you want to catch up on the reasoning behind my cow sale and this being my last batch of cheese for a while, you can read my post entitled Focusing On Heaven While Still Here on Earth)  This cheese I must start out by saying, if made with raw milk, is rather pungent.  And so, if you don't like a cheese that punches you back when you eat it, this may not be a recipe to try.  But if you are looking for an easy way to get into the mold variety of cheese, this is a simple recipe that won't steer you wrong..it is basically a soft mold ripened cheese you can make completely at refrigerator temperatures.

To start out you need 2 gallons of partially skimmed milk.

Then in a sterilized pot, heat the milk to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sprinkle 1/2 a teaspoon on mesophilic culture on top of the heated milk as well as 1/16 teaspoon of Penicillium candidum mold powder.  Wait a few minutes for the culture to rehydrate, and then thoroughly stir the culture into the milk using up and down motions.

Immediately add a mixture of 1/2 cup water with 1/8 teaspoon of liquid rennet.

Now just cover the pot and let it sit for 24 hours.  (I put a sticky note on my pot to remind me of when I need to deal with it next.)

The next day, ladle off all the whey that has separated from the cheese, trying not to break up the curds.  Then ladle the cheese into a large colander that is lined with sheets of plastic cheese cloth.  (You can use regular cheese cloth, but I find these plastic ones wash up so much better.)

Let the cheese drain for 12 hours at room temperature...

...and then further drain, in the refrigerator, for 24 to 36 more hours.

After all that draining, then mix 1 teaspoon of sea salt into the cheese and then press the cheese into a large brie mould over the top of a draining rack and draining mat which are both situated in the bottom half of a ripening container.  Also, to help the cheese take shape, place two 1-pound weights on top of the cheese mould follower. 

Now, let the cheese sit in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 days.  (This will continue to drain the cheese and set it into the shape of the mould.)

Next, remove the mould and put a cheese cloth over the ripening container and let sit for another 4 to 6 day as to dry all excess moisture out of the cheese.

Now, wipe out any excess moisture that built up on the bottom and place the cover on the ripening container and put the container back in the refrigerator. 

Now is the time that will test your patience, but you need to let the mold do its work.  During this waiting time, wipe any built up moisture that collects on the top or bottom of the container and keep watching the cheese until a nice white fuzz covers the outside of the cheese.

The last step is then to flip the cheese every few days onto a clean draining mat, wipe moisture out of the ripening container, and reseal the container.

In the end you will have a beautiful cheese that can be served as is, or made into the festive melted cheese recipe I will share with you in the next post.


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