A basic monastic hard cheese

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1. A Basic Monastic Hard CheeseFig.1 Cheese; from the Theatrum Sanitatis, Library Casanatense, Rome1. (Although the illuminations in this paper are representative of…
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  • 1. A Basic Monastic Hard CheeseFig.1 Cheese; from the Theatrum Sanitatis, Library Casanatense, Rome1. (Although the illuminations in this paper are representative of domestic cheeseproduction they are none the less documentation of the process of making hard cheesesduring the middle ages.)1 Fig.137. Cheese; from the Theatrum Sanitatis, Library Casanatense, Rome,http://www.godecookery.com/afeast/foods/foods.html 1
  • 2. Fig.2. Cheese manufacture, 1390-1400, Illustration from "Tacuinum Sanitatis",illuminated medical manual based on texts translated from Arabic into Latin, in thecollection of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.2Making a Hard Cheese in PeriodSome types of hard cheese were named for the area that they were being made is in, suchas Gouda (in Holland); or the religious orders that made their own cheese. An example ofthis was documented in 1543 in the ledgers of Saint-Aman Abby of Rouen where thecheese called Neufchatel3, was mentioned in the book “A Proper newe Booke ofCokerye.”4 Another example would be a variety of cheeses called Trappist after the orderof Trappist monks who made them. Perhaps one of the most famous cheeses was one2 Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, http://images.imagestate.com/Watermark/1276116.jpg3 Norman Cheeses, www.formages.org/fnd/fdn_neufcatel_en4 A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye, 16th Century, 1545, http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/bookecok.htm 2
  • 3. made in Germany since 1371 by Benedictine monks called Munster. Munster takes itsname from the Latin word for monastery, monasterium.5“It has been estimated that there were as many as 1000 monastic houses (251 wereCistercian abbeys and 412 were Benedictine abbeys) alone in France during the middleages.”6 Each monastic house would serve both fresh & hard cheeses adapted from themilk available in the area where it was located. These cheeses would each have a uniqueflavor. The flavor of the milk used in making the cheese would be effected by the grassor plants the animals ate, the type and breed of animal being milked, the time of the yearthe milk was collected and even the time of day (how rich was the milk), what type ofmilks were being combined (some cheeses combine Cow & Goat/Sheep milk to makecheese), how & were the cheese was aged. In wine making the flavor the land gives towine is called terroir and the same is true for cheeses.Other cheeses of monastic origins are: 7 • Abondance Abbey (Savoy): Abondance has been made since the fourteenth century and is a semi-hard cheese. This type of cheese has a smooth surface rind, showing the marks of the cloth with an amber color. This cheese is made in the French Mountains like my cheese this is a raw cow’s milk cheese. This cheese again like mine has a firm texture, and a distinct and complex flavor. The color of both mine and this Abby cheese ranges from ivory to pale yellow. • Maroilles Abbey (Nord): Maroilles is a moist orange-red washed rind and has a strong smell from the length of ageing, close to a Limburger in nature. • Conques Abbey (Aveyron): Roquefort (a blue cheese semi-hard) aged in the caves to encourage the growth of the blue mold that give the cheese its flavor. • Benedictine Abbey of Munster (Haut-Rhin): Munster (a semi-hard cheese) which comes from the Latin word monasterium (monastery) was made as early as 1371. The cheeses crust (rind) is washed regularly. It is matured in damp cellars for five weeks for up to 2 to 3 months. During this period, the rind is periodically washed with brine (a concentrated salt solution). The added moisture helps the development of bacteria that gives this cheese its particular taste and color, this type of cheese was also smoked. • Cistercian Monastery of Epoisses (Côte dOr): Epoisses was recorded at the end of the sixteenth century. This is another soft to semi-hard cheese with a strong flavor and a wished rind. Washed rind cheeses are pressed cheeses. • Templar’s of Coulsdon (Seine-et-Marne): Coulommiers has a soft texture and is similar to Brie. • St Claude Abbey (Jura): Bleu de Gex has a flat wheel shape, the rind is dry, rough, and has a white-yellow color.5 Albin, Michel, Linventaire du patrimoine culinaire de France, Lorraine, 1998, article on Munster-geromeAOC cheese, pg. 198~201, http://www.nethelper.com.au/article/Munster_%28cheese%296 At the Table of the Monks: Cheese, Of Course (Part V)http://gherkinstomatoes.com/2009/05/22/at-the-table-of-the-monks-cheese-of-course-part-v/7 Lee, Bruce, The Legacy of the Monks, http://www.oldcook.com/en/history-monks_legacy#fro 3
  • 4. The hard cheese I have made is similar in style to Abondance Abbey Cheese and is 8My Monastic cheese inside after cutting (above right), (below) beautiful rind after 7 ½months of aging.representative of a simple hard monastic cheese that might have been produced in Francethrough the 16th centuries. Monastic houses adapted local resources to make theircommunities self sufficient. Therefore with this in mind I adapted the local resourcesfound here to create a simple type of hard cheese that might have been produced inperiod. My cheese reflects the flavors found in the pastures of Indiana and theenvironment of my home.Below you will read about the rule of Saint Benedict who lived in the 6th Century. Manymonastic orders followed these simple rules and beliefs. In particular since my persona isan 11th Century Cistercian Nun I wanted to try to recreate a cheese that my persona mighthave made.8 Gourmet Food, Abondance cheese, http://www.gourmet-food.com/french-cheese/abondance-cheese-100475.aspx 4
  • 5. Sabina Flanagan wrote “at the monastery of Cluny, according to an eleventh-centuryaccount, the regime for summer would consist of two meals per day. At the first therewould be a dish of dried beans, a course of cheese or eggs which was replaced by fish onThursday, Sunday, and feast days….”9 St. Hildegard of Bingen, wrote as well in Physicaspecifically that “If one wishes to eat cheese, it should be neither cooked nor fresh, butdried….”10 Here the description of DRIED Cheese and not soft or cooked is possiblyreferencing hard slicing cheese or a grading style of cheese. St. Hildegard had manyvisions that she had recorded in some of these visions she used common everyday thingsas metaphors to relate information to the reader. In one vision she records the following,“….I also saw the earth with people on it. The people were carrying milk in theirvessels, and they were making cheese from the milk. Some of the milk was thick,from which strong cheese was being made; some of the milk was thin, from whichmild cheese was being curdled; and some of the milk was spoiling, from which bittercheese was being produced.”11There are currently modern examples of Cistercian communities carrying on the cheesemaking traditions to support themselves now just as they would have in the Middle Ages.On April 29, 1987, Mount Saint Marys Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts was foundedby Cistercian nuns. “They purchased a cheese farm with all of its dated cheese-makingmachinery still intact on the property. Trappist emphasizes self-sufficiency and manuallabor. Therefore the idea of a small monastery producing and selling cheese to supportitself appealed greatly to the Sisters.”12Cistercian & Benedictine monastic houses had extensive networks of communication &trading. In German a hard cheese is called Hartkäse; a semi-hard cheese is calledSchnittkäse. Chesses ranging from soft fresh cheeses to hard cheese were common fair inGerman monasteries. Common types of cheese found were French Brie, Dutch Edam,German Limburger, and Italian Parmesan, almond milk was also turn into a cheese calledalmond cheese as a substitute for milk based cheeses during Lent.13 What I want to showhere is that there also existed an extensive trading net work between monasteries. TheCistercians were well known for their extensive net work of trading that extended fromWales to Germany. This would not only allow for other types of cheese to be part oftheir monastic diet it allowed the knowledge on how to make these cheese’s to beexchanged as well.9 Flanagan, Sabina, Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179: a visionary life, Routledge, New York, 1989, Chpt.“World & Cloister”, pg.33-3610 Throop, Priscills, Hildegard von Bingen’s - Physica, Healing Arts Press, 1998, pg.15, pg.1911 Classen, Constance, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination, Rutledge,1998, pg.1512 Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. 2002. 24 Mar. 2009 <http://olamonastery.org13 Adamson, Melitta Weiss, Food in Medieval Times, Greenwood Press, 2004, pg46 5
  • 6. Fig 3: Dairymen and Cheese Sellers (Mid 13th C., San Marco, Venice)14There are 73 chapters in the “Rules of St. Benedict”15 I used the list below from “At theTable of the Monks”, because it was the most concise list for the purpose of informingyou how it applied to monastic houses, their everyday lives, and cheese making.“Cheeses of every type fit into the simple monastic life of the orders that followed therules set forth by St. Benedict. The rules that favored the production and preservation ofmaking cheese were these.”16 In order to be “real monks” (these rules were also adopted by orders that containedSisters, and Nuns), Benedictines must live from the work of their own hands. They must not eat meat: milk products and cheese must constitute the bases of theirfood, as powerful bearers of the values of simplicity and humility. Finally, their community must be self-sufficient (economically speaking).17 OtherOrders that also followed these rules were the “Cistercians an order founded in France(this is the Order that my persona portrays), the Trappist, Dominicans, and theFranciscans to name a few of the major ones.”1814 At the Table of the Monks: Cheese, Of Course (Part V)http://gherkinstomatoes.com/2009/05/22/at-the-table-of-the-monks-cheese-of-course-part-v/15 Rule of Saint Benedict, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Saint_Benedict16 At the Table of the Monks: Cheese, Of Course (Part V),http://gherkinstomatoes.com/2009/05/22/at-the-table-of-the-monks-cheese-of-course-part-v/17 “Cheese Maker Monks”, http://www.french-cheese.com/Cheesemaker-Monks18 “Cheese Maker Monks”, http://www.french-cheese.com/Cheesemaker-Monks 6
  • 7. The milk was collected twice a day (morning & evening) at the milking house to beprocessed (fig.4 & 5). In period they would have left the skimmed milk to warm overnight by the fire near the hearth. A milk starter often cream (see Ref.#1) from the nextmornings milking19 (a bacterial agent some times referred to as a live culture) was addedthat acted as an agent to help back down the proteins in the milk so that the milk solidsout separate out (the curds) . One other method in period for the source of a starter was tosave a small amount of milk from a previous batch of cheese before the rennet (or agentwas added to cause the curd to separate from the whey). Then something was added likethistle, safflower juice, or an acid (vinegar or verjuice), ale, or rennet20 to cause the milkto clabbered (the curd to separate from the whey).21The milk purchased for this project was Raw Whole Milk that I low temperaturepasteurized for modern safety reasons (The raw whole milk that I used was lowtemperature pasteurized by me, then processed into the cheese see details below). TheRaw milk came from free range Short Horn Milking Cows, and Belted Galloway whichwas breeds known in the middle ages.Medieval Method of making cheese:Reference 1: “My Lady of Middlesex makes excellent slipp-coat Cheese of good morning milk,putting Cream to it. A quart of Cream is the proportion she useth to as much milk,as both together make a large round Cheese of the bigness of an ordinary Tart-plate, orcheese-plate; as big as an ordinary soft cheese, that eh Market women sell for tenpence…”22Reference 2:(making a pressed cheese)(England, 17th century, “A True Gentlewomans Delight”, 1653)To make a slipcoat CheeseTake five quarts of new Milk from the Cow, and one quart of Water, and one spoonful ofRunnet, and stirre it together, and let it stand till it doth come, then lay your Cheese clothinto the Vate, and let the Whey soak out of it self; when you have taken it all up, lay acloth on the top of it, and one pound weight for one hour, then lay two pound for onehour more, then turn him when he hath stood two houres, lay three pound on him for anhour more, then take him out of the Vate, and let him lie two or three houres, and thensalt him on both sides, when he is salt enough, take a clean cloth and wipe him dry, then19 Power, Eileen, The Goodman of Paris, New York, 1992, pg.16920 Arne Emil Christensen is Professor, Dr. Phil. at the University Museum of National Antiquities in Oslo,author of this article (He specializes on shipbuilding history and craftsmanship in the Iron Age and theViking period), http://ezinearticles.com/?Dairy-Products-in-Anglo-Saxon-Times-%28Part-of-the-Anglo-Saxon-Survival-Guide%29&id=375438721 Power, Eileen, The Goodman of Paris, New York, 1992, pg.16922 The Project Gutenberg eBook “The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby”, www.gutenberg.org/files/16441, “Tomake Silpp-coat cheese” 7
  • 8. let him lie on a day or a night, then put Nettles under and upon him, and change themonce a day, if you find any Mouse turd wipe it off, the Cheese will come to his eating ineight or nine dayes.23Reference 3:“Take a gallon of milk from the cow, and seethe it, and when it doth seethe put thereuntoa quart or two of morning milk in fair cleansing pans in such place as no dust may falltherein. This is for you clotted cream. The next morning take a quart of morning milk,and seethe it, and put in a quart of cream thereunto, and when it doth seethe, take if offthe fire. Put it in a fair earthen pan, and let it stand until it be somewhat blood warm. Butfirst over night put a good quantity of ginger, rose water, and stir it together. Let it settleovernight. The next day put it into your said blood warm milk to make your cheesecome. Then put the curds in a fair cloth, with a little good rose water, fine powder ofginger, and a little sugar. So lash great soft rolls together with a thread and crush out thewhey with your clotted cream. Mix it with fine powder of ginger, and sugar and sosprinkle it with rose water, and put your cheese in a fair dish. And put these clots aroundabout it. Then take a pint of raw milk or cream and put it in a pot, and all to shake it untilit be gathered into a froth like snow. And ever as it cometh, take it off with a spoon andput into a colander. There put it upon your fresh cheese, and prick it with wafers, and soserve it.”24Reference 4:Columella on Cheese Making:(Both soft and pressed aged cheeses)(Although an early source from 70 A.D. Columella was a contemporary of Pliny & Cato,and at this point in time this was the most complete written source of instructions I havefound for making cheese both pressed & soft)"Cheese should be made of pure milk which is as fresh as possible....It should usually becurdled with rennet obtained from a lamb or kid, though it can also be coagulated withthe flower of the wild thistle or the seeds of the safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), andequally well with the liquid which flows from a Fig-tree..."."A pail when it has been filled with milk should always be kept at some degree of heat: itshould not however be brought into contact with the flames....but should be put to standnot far from the fire...""...when the liquid had thickened, it should immediately be transferred to wicker vesselsor baskets or moulds..."23 Gode Cookery, Matterer, James L. site owner, http://www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec77.html24 Dawson, Thomas, The Good Housewife’s Jewel, Southover Press, 1996, pg.17~18 8
  • 9. Fig.4 Women had charge of the domestic animals including milking, butter making, and cheese making production. (Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, fol. 44)25"...as soon as the cheese has become somewhat more solid, they place weights on the topof it, so that the whey may be pressed out;....then they are placed into a cool, shady place,that it my not go bad....it is often placed on very clean boards, it is sprinkled withpounded salt so that it may exude the acid liquid,...when it has hardened it is pressedagain...."."...the method of making what we call "hand pressed" cheese is the best-known of all:when the milk is slightly congealed in the pail and still warm it is broken up and hotwater is poured over it, and then it is either shaped by hand or else pressed into box-woodmoulds." (fig. 2)"Others allow thyme which has been crushed and strained through a sieve to coagulatewith the milk and curdle it in this way, similarly, you can give the cheese an flavor youlike by adding any seasoning which you choose....Cheese also which is hardened in brineand then colored with the smoke of apple tree wood or stubble has a not unpleasantflavor..."26Supplies:Modern stainless steel was used to keep the surfaces as clean as possible, formodern health reasons.25 Hanawalt, Barbara, A., The Ties That Bound – Peasant Families in Medieval England, Oxford Univ.Press, Chapter 8 “The Husbandman’s Year and Economic Ventures:, pg.14826 Columella II de re Rustica V-IX, Translated by E.S. Forster & E. Heffner, Book VII, pg.285~289 9
  • 10. 2 gallons Whole Raw Milk1 pkg. Mesophilic Culture Direct Set1/2 tsp. Rennet¼ cup cool water1 Tbl. Sea Salt2 Stainless Steel Pots1 Slotted Stainless Steel Spoon1 yard of cheese cloth1 Colander1 Stainless Steel Ladle1 Thermometer1 Cheese Press1 Cheese Mold & Follower1 timer1 large plastic cake container (Tupperware style)2 Reed Mats to place the cheese onLard enough to coat the outside of the cheese roundTo Make A Basic Hard Monastic Cheese:(Method used in “Cheese making Made Easy” by Ricki & Robert Carroll)27The flavor of this cheese tends to be a little shaper & dryerThere is an Italian proverb that says “Cheese without a rind is like a maiden withoutshame” 28 that certainly speaks to the fact that hard cheeses were being made (a cheesehaving a rind is most often used in context of a hard aged cheese). There are also anumber of medieval recipes that call for sliced or graded cheese as part of the cookingpreparation please reference Item #1 “To make a Tarte of Chese”. The cheese I havemade is a pressed cheese having a rind, and sealed.Modern Method:2-gallon whole raw milk (Raw Milk or non-homogenized milk will give you a richer cheese) There is an additional step here for me since I used Raw Milk. I needed to heat the milk for 30 min. to a temperature of 145°, then place the pot immediately into a sink filled with cool water and ice if necessary to bring the temp of the milk down quickly, then after cooled place sterile clean container and proceed, with cheese making steps below.1 package of Mesophilic Culture DS (this is used for temperatures under 105º)1/2 tsp. of Rennet for 2 gallons of milk1/4 cup of cool water to dilute the rennet into1 Tbl. Coarse Sea Salt27 Carroll, Ricki & Robert, “Cheese Making Made Easy”, Storey Books, 1996, Chapter on “Hard Cheese”pages28 After Cheese Comes Nothing, http://aftercheese.wordpress.com/2008/09/20/blessed-hildegard-and-the-profiling-of-cheese, 9/20/2008 10
  • 11. Step One:Place milk into large pan (fig. 6). Warm milk until it has risen to a temperature of milk to90° F. (Use the in-direct warming method using a large metal pan in a sink of warmwater, or inside of a second larger pot).Add the package of Mesophilic Starter DS and allow to sit for 45~60 minutes to ripen.Add Rennet (diluted to 1/4 cup of cool water) and stir for several minuets. Let milk sitcovered for 1 hour or until a curd has formed and a clean break can be preformed (thecurd should have what is called a clean break, which is if a clean knife is
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