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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.

Mascarpone
1/4 teaspoon of Flora Danica starter culture
100ml milk
600ml Cream (minimum 40% fat no thickeners or other additives)
salt to taste

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.

Comments

Comment from Memoria
Time April 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

Interesting method. I just make mine with cream and lemon juice. That’s it! Nevertheless, your mascarpone looks exquisite!

Comment from myfudo
Time April 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Looks really interesting to make…Page, bookmarked. I am gonna enjoy this!

Comment from Nic@diningwithastud
Time April 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

It looks perfectly creamy! Fab job :D

Comment from nic
Time April 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Hi Memoria, Thanks for stopping by. I have read that you can make mascarpone with lemon juice and I’m sure it works just fine but I decided to go with the starter culture to increase the shelf life of the final product. From what I’ve read if you use lemon juice or tartaric acid you have to use the mascarpone within a couple of days, but with starter culture it should last up to four weeks (unless I eat it first!)

Comment from JJ @ 84thand3rd
Time April 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

You continue to amaze me with your cheeses. It is scary what is in food when you start to read labels!

Comment from nic
Time April 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks JJ, there are actually some posts about “real” cheese on the way, but they are taking months to mature! And yes, the content of some food is scary…

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