We are passionate about creating cheeses using traditional methods in a sustainable manner. When it comes to making our cheese, it’s all about the hand made – we don’t use any machinery in the production of our cheese. All of our cheese is made, turned and washed by the hands of our dedicated team, led by head cheese maker Cameron. When we make soft cheeses like Camembert a gentle touch is everything – the precious curds need to be treated lightly and carefully, and this can only be done in person by our team. Read on to find out why!
Our head cheesemaker Cameron overseeing the fresh milk as it goes safely into the vat for pasteurising.
Where is Camembert from?
The first Camemberts were made in the late 18th century at Camembert, Normandy, in northern France. While Camembert is traditionally made with unpasteurised milk, over the years food safety regulations have evolved and now require modern cheesemakers to pasteurise the milk before using it in cheesemaking.
At Milawa Cheese Co we use fresh milk from the Victorian High Country, Which we pasteurise on site so that we can control the process as it moves towards the final cheese product. Pasteurisation heats the milk to 73 degrees for 15 seconds, to remove known pathogens from the milk. So while our Milawa Camembert might have traditional French roots, it is distinctly handmade in Victoria’s High Country – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
One of the local dairy farms that supplies us with farm-fresh milk!
How do you make Camembert?
First, we roll up our sleeves to clean and sterilise everything that will be used during the Camambert making process.
Then, we pasteurise the milk on site and pour it into our vats ready to be made into our delicious Milawa Camembert. We add starter cultures that sour the milk and allow the flavours to begin developing. Then we add rennet which sets the milk and allows it to turn into one huge, jelly-like curd, which is then cut using cheese cutters (which look like tennis racquets). This gets us closer to the final product, creating the curds (solid milk) and whey (the remaining liquid).
When we create our soft cheeses we make sure the curd particles are large and soft, and that we handle them with extreme care. Why do we need to be so gentle?? Well, the moisture the curds contain at this point will make for that lovely silky texture later on when they mature, and it’s important that we don’t lose or disturb this. When making hard cheeses, the curd particles are finer and can be more vigorously handled to allow for more moisture to be removed, supporting a longer ageing process.
Oh so satisfying… cutting the curd.
Silky goodness: Milawa Camembert curds.
Once the curd has been cut, we then stir it very gently by hand to firm up the little curd pillows. (Yes, curd pillows – a very technical term!) After a while the curds begin to firm up and start to hold onto the moisture that will eventually turn into that luscious creamy mouthfeel of our Milawa Camembert. After stirring, about a third of the whey is then drained off the curds, before we give the curds a final stir and scoop them into cheese hoops (another technical term!) that shape the cheese into its final form.The Camemberts are turned four times in their hoops and are allowed to sit and mesh together overnight, before being placed in a brine bath for a few hours the next morning.
Milawa Camembert in their brine bath.
Why do Camembert grow mould?
Once out of the brine bath, our Milawa Camemberts are placed onto racks where they are sprayed with white mould spores – Penicillium candidum amongst other strains – and then allowed to mature for a minimum of ten days. It’s not all set-and-forget though! We turn the Camemberts daily as the white mould grows. The development of the white mould on the outside is a critical part of the cheese making process, as it breaks down the proteins in the curd and turns it all soft and gooey.
Once we have a light, even coverage of white mould the cheeses are then wrapped in our silver paper to continue their maturation. The silver wrapping paper has tiny perforations that allow the white moud to continue to grow. The paper doesn’t let it grow too thick, so you get a lovely thin white mould rind and a soft gooey interior.
Finally, after our cheeses are wrapped they are off to our shop, retailers, food service businesses and then to your platter!
Milawa Goat Camembert resting after a day or two.
What is the difference between Cow and Goat Camembert?
Firstly, they taste different. Cow’s milk has a mild, neutral flavor and is more readily available, which makes it popular for cheesemaking. Goat milk has a more yoghurty flavour making it tangier than cow’s milk cheese and can have earthy notes depending on the cheese variety. Secondly, goat cheese tends to be whiter in comparison to cow cheese. This is because goat’s milk is naturally whiter than cow’s milk due to the way cows digest grass and extract the carotene out of it, which affects the colouration of the cheese. Goat cheese is also naturally high in vitamin A, which contributes to its whiter color compared to cow cheese.
Want to learn more?
Head over to the Milawa Blog for more cheesy chats, pairings and things to do in the High Country.
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