Cheese of the Week - Homemade Gruy&#232re-style

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The hard thing about making aged cheeses is that the lessons you learn come many months after the mistakes you made. That's why it's important to take good notes so that when you finally taste the cheese you've made, you can either duplicate your process again or modify the things that may have caused any flaws.

You may remember that at the end of January, I blogged about three homemade (kosher!) Gruyère-style cheeses that were aging in my mini-fridge. The second-oldest of the three, made on January 17th, 2006, had too much rennet in it, which I assumed would make the cheese more bitter after a long period of aging. Normally this cheese is supposed to be aged for 5 months, but I decided to try it sooner than that, to make sure it wouldn't get too bitter.

I tried it at about the three month mark, and while it wasn't bitter, it also wasn't very flavorful either. The subtle flavor that it did have was good, but it was just too weak. I decided to try it again at the four month mark, which is around now. The flavor has definitely improved greatly, with the characteristic sweet & nutty quality of Swiss alpine cheeses. Also you may remember that my last homemade cheese was too dry and acidic, which gave it a Parmigiano-like quality. This one, however, is pure Swiss. It has that nice creamy, almost rubbery/chewy texture. Nor does it taste bitter, even after these four months of aging. I could probably wait longer and try to develop the flavor even more, but I'd rather not risk making it too bitter.

I have two more Gruyère-style cheeses aging in my fridge, one which should be ready in about 1-2 months, and the other which should be ready in August. Both of these have their problems too (one didn't get pressed evenly, and the other might have mold growing internally). I plan to make another batch of this variety this weekend, which would be ready to eat around October, and hopefully this one won't have too many flaws! Also, it will be made with spring milk, so it should have a little bit more of a grassy flavor than the previous ones that were all made with winter milk.

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