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I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconut Gouda

October 13, 2013
A lovely pair of coconut-oiled Goudas

A lovely pair of coconut-oiled Goudas

Our third cheese assignment for the League of Urban Cheesemakers is Gouda. The meeting when we’ll taste it is not until January, but I made mine last week so that it will have about four months to age. Gouda is usually waxed for aging (traditionally with red wax, but any color works), which seals the wheel, keeping moisture in and mold out. You can finish Gouda however you want though. The recipe I used suggested waxed, oiled, or spice rubbed.

I’ve made oiled natural rind cheeses before and actually enjoyed it more than waxed cheeses, both in process and results. Waxed cheeses are pretty stable, so you just flip them every now and then and otherwise leave them alone… which is boring. Also, when you open them (at least with the one’s I’ve made) there tends to be mold under the wax anyway, try as you might, which then has to be cut off and kind of ruins the aesthetic of the wheel. On the other hand, oiled cheeses take some more maintenance; rubbing them regularly with oil and chasing molds away, as well as flipping. You’re more involved and aware of their progress and the end result is a nice supple, clean, even rind.

In the past I’ve used olive oil to coat my natural-rind cheeses, which works well. It’s runny of course, and makes a very thin coating, and has to be re-applied frequently once it’s absorbed or dries up. This time I have a new idea though – coconut oil! It’s all the rage in the cooking world right now. I’m not sure it’s as healthy as a lot of the fad-followers claim, but I suppose it does make for tasty baked goods. I bought a jar a while back for a recipe, but haven’t really found a use for it since then. So, faced with a shortage of cheese wax and an odd jar of coconut oil, I decided to try it out as a cheese coating.

If you’ve used coconut oil, you know that it is very temperature sensitive. Just sitting in the cupboard it can be a runny liquid on a warm day, or completely solid on a cool one. This plays into my strategy for aging my cheese, since it will be in the cold cheese cave for the next four months. I caught my coconut oil at a moment when it was semi-solid; kind of pasty, which made it easy to rub all over the exterior of my Goudas with just my fingers. It didn’t drip, but made a nice smooth coating. Then I stuck the wheels in the cave and the oil quickly solidified into an almost wax-like coating. (I had to re-do some of it at first, because the oil solidified to the cheese mat and pulled off the wheel, but I just put the cold side down, re-oiled the top, and let it get solid. All better!) When I take the cheeses out of the cave to flip them, the heat of my hands quickly makes the oil just a little more malleable and I can smooth the wax around and make sure coverage is good. After about a week already, I haven’t needed to reapply oil, because the original coating is still thick and intact.

As for taste, we’ll have to see how the coconut oil influences the cheese. I think it will be nice. Coconut oil has a pretty pronounced coconut smell (which is lovely), but the taste is more subtle and I think it will meld nicely with the taste of cheese and maybe even give it a slight tropical note around the rind. I actually sampled some coconut cheese at a Dutch Queen’s Day festival once – made with milk and coconut cream – so I feel like I’m not even going that far out on a limb here. If it works, I think I’ll have found my prefered method of aging natural rind cheese; a good middle-ground between wax and oil.

So, I’m curious. Have you ever used coconut oil on cheese? Or any other interesting oils or fats (a friend told me recently about using bacon grease!)? What’s your favorite method for finishing and aging semi-hard and hard cheeses?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    October 13, 2013 11:50 am

    Do you follow cheeseforum? Several members have tried the coconut oil with good results!

    • October 13, 2013 7:49 pm

      I know if it, but haven’t spent much time reading the message boards. I’ll have to go take a gander again. Thanks!

  2. Kim permalink
    October 13, 2013 1:30 pm

    I have not yet made a natural rind cheese since i tend to forget my cheeses for a few days while they’re in my cheese cave… Reading this post, it makes me wonder what cocoa butter would bring to a cheese. Might be it is to hard though and might fall of the cheese (when the coating gets cracked) during it’s hibernating time in the cheese cave.

    • October 13, 2013 7:50 pm

      I’ve never used cocoa butter for anything, so I don’t know it’s properties well, but it sounds like another good one to experiment with. That’s half the fun!

  3. December 18, 2013 9:59 am

    I’m always curious about people using wood or fiber based mats for drying or aging. I know a lot of cheese making books say to use them and a lot of cheese supply places sell them, but don’t you find them problematic? They can’t be easy to clean and there’s no way to sterilize them.Then again, I’ve never tried them. Do find they have other benefits?

    I worked in a professional micro-creamery and the thought of not be able to sanitize something freaks me out – particularity if you’re working with mold ripened cheeses or when things go wrong and get too runny etc. For home cheese making I use those plastic cross stitch canvases you can pick up at most craft stores.

    • December 18, 2013 10:34 am

      I’ve used wood mats without trouble, so far. I typically don’t age cheeses on them, and mostly use them for draining (the goudas are on a mat now, but are coated, so aren’t in direct contact with the mat. The mat is mostly keeping coconut oil off the floor of the fridge). So anything that gets stuck to them is mostly fresh curd. I scrub them well and I sterilize them by putting them in a stock pot with a bit of water and steam them well (so far haven’t had any warping issues). I figure the steam gets all up in the crevices and wood fiber and gets them sufficiently clean. I suppose there might be some cross-contamination, but no more so than happens anyway. Frankly, I’m fairly “bug friendly” and although I sterilize and keep my cheese making space and equipment clean, I don’t worry too much about killing every microbe in the place. The dangerous ones need to go, of course, but if some P. Candidum and P. Roqueforti trade places, it’s not such a big deal. I don’t think there are really any specific benefits to the wood mats. I opt for them mostly because I can buy cheap sushi mats at an Asian restaurant supply place near my house, although I do like your cross-stitch canvas idea. I’ll have to try that!

      • December 18, 2013 10:47 am

        Fair enough about being bug friendly! I’ll keep the steaming trick in mind if any of my students ask about using mats. I use those coupons that come in the mail and get the canvases for 40% off – pretty good deal :)

Trackbacks

  1. Zen and the Art of Cheese Maintenance | Milk's Leap
  2. It’s All Gouda | Milk's Leap

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