Monday, July 27, 2015

Domiaiti Cheese

This is Domiati Cheese:


This is probably a cheese you have never heard of (prior to making it, neither had I).  It is a cheese of North African descent.  It is an unusual cheese in that it incorporates salt at the very beginning of the process and is stored in its own way (see below for more).

Simplified preparation process:  4 quarts (1 gallon) of milk, to which is add 2/3 cup Kosher Salt.  Bring to 100 F.  Add 1/4 TSP Thremophilic culture, wait 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 TSP Rennet.  Hold for 2 hours at 100 F.  Check for a clean break (indicating the curd has set), then cut into smaller sections.  Allow to settle for 5 minutes, then stir for 15 minutes.  Allow to settle.  Pour through cheese cloth and a colander and allow to drain, reserving the whey.  Placed the drain curd into a mold (I use a small Tomme mold) and turn several times for 12 hours.  Add another 1/3 cup Kosher salt to the whey and store at room temperature.

Why is this cheese interesting, both in general and in an emergency? Because it is designed to be stored at room temperature (which, apparently, is how it is done in North Africa).  The heavily salted (very heavily salted) whey preserves the cheese against mold and bacteria.  (Note that I have not yet tried this theory, but will have to put it to the test with a small test sample of a cheese.  No sense in wasting good cheese  unless I have to).  In the refrigerator as I store it, it will last a long time indeed (not, in point of fact, that it ever does).

Cheese - or any preservation of any food, really - is a Godsend.  It is a way to take a raw material and add value to the process and preserve it for the future.  Hopefully we will never reach the stage where things will become somewhat rationed (but, as we have seen with the avian flu, it can happen).  To be able to take something and turn it into a food for longer storage is a good thing.  To change that food into something that can quite possibly go without refrigeration for periods of time, even better.

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