Making Cheese at Home #3 Mascarpone
Ok, so mascarpone isn’t the most exciting cheese to be making at home, but it probably is one of the few that is cheaper to make than buy, and it really is very simple. I had overlooked the mascarpone recipe in the book, but on a recent meal out I was reminded how delicious mascarpone can be. I was served mascarpone for dessert with a poached pear, which sounds a little strange but was actually very refreshing in small doses.
By making cheese at home I’m not only learning about cheese making, but I’m also learning lots about the raw ingredients such as milk and cream. I have learnt the importance of good, fresh milk and now I have discovered how many additional ingredients are present in most of the creams you buy in a supermarket. To make mascarpone successfully you need pure cream with a high fat content. No thickeners please.
I’m not sure what is more horrifying about making mascarpone, the number of extra ingredients in most creams, or the fact that the one I found that I could use was 50% fat! Most recipes for mascarpone require a minimum of 40% fat, but I couldn’t find one without thickeners, so 50% it is.
Mascarpone also yields good quantities of cheese with very little waste. From the 600ml of cream, I got more than 500g of cheese, which is rather a lot of something that for most recipes requires around a tablespoon. So far I have enjoyed in in one of Heston Blumethal’s recipes for potted Stilton and a retro favourite of ours: peach, prosciutto and mascarpone.
If I tried this again, I would consider halving the recipe, although it can be difficult making cheese in such small quantities.
The day before you want to make your cheese make the starter culture. It seems all cultures differ depending on where you buy them, so I recommend you follow the manufacturers instructions. For the cultures from Country Brewer, it is recommended you boil and cool the milk, stir in the starter culture, then leave to ripen for 12 to 24 hours.
Once the culture has ripened you are ready to start the cheese. Put the cream in a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of warm water.
Heat the cream to 30 degrees Celsius then add the prepared starter culture and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and allow to set for 12 hours at room temperature.
After 12 hours the cream should have thickened further to produce a curd. It doesn’t look like much has happened, but there are subtle changes to the cream that has transformed it from cream to mascarpone.
Put the curd into a colander with butter muslin set over a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge to drain for 12 hours.
The length of time you allow the mascarpone to drain will determine how thick the mascarpone is. Once drained to your liking place the curd into an air tight container. It will keep for 4 weeks in the fridge.