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Morbi-YAY! (Recipe Testing, Part 2)

April 1, 2012

Marbled Marbler

Another weekend, another cheese. Things have been intense on the cheese making front here. In the last couple of weeks I’ve made the near-disastrous Jarlsberg, cottage cheese from leftovers, an improvised pasta filata cheese (more on that in a coming post), and now, Morbier.

My latest test recipe for the San Francisco Milk Maid’s upcoming cheese making manual is in the style of a traditional French cheese. Morbier is from the Jura mountains in eastern France and is recognizable by the black stripe that runs horizontally through the center of the wheel. Morbier is also kind of a leftovers cheese. When not enough curd was left at the end of the day to make a whole wheel, the cheese maker would sprinkle the half-wheel with a covering of black vegetable ash to preserve the curd until morning. The next day, fresh curds would be put in on top of the ash layer and the whole thing pressed, with the ash making a fine black line through the center of the wheel.

Pro-Morbier; mine should look like this when it's done. Hopefully.

Today, Morbier curd is made all in one batch, and the ash line simply added for the sake of tradition, which is how I went about things too. I had much better results than I did with the Jarlsberg, and this recipe offered a lot of new firsts for me too. One was the vegetable ash and the other was a new bacteria additive known as Brevibacterium Linens or B. Linens ( I like the quasi-gangsta sound of the foreshortened bacteria names, don’t you? B. Linens. P. Diddy Candidum. G. Dog-forti…)

Aaanyway. B. Linens made two appearances in this recipe. A tiny pinch was added to the warmed milk during culturing and more is being swabbed over the exterior of the cheese on a daily, and soon weekly, basis now that it’s aging. B. Linens is also used in Limburger cheese (the smelliest of the smelly) and is actually the same bacteria that makes your feet stink, so you know this will be one odoriferous cheese. But I’m excited. I have a yen for washed rind cheeses (Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk is one of my favorites and applies B. Linens to a gooey triple-cream.) Washed rind cheeses are typically some of the smellier and more colorful wheels (often having a reddish rind), but have some of the milder, milkier flavors. The regular washing helps the rind stay less tough and more like the paste it’s surrounding. Washing solution can be a salt brine or a spirit of some kind, like brandy or beer. I would love to try a beer wash some time, but my current Morbier is being sponged down with a salt water brine spiked with a little B. Linens powder. Washed rinds take more constant care and maintenance, but I think it will pay off. I am keeping the wheel in an aging box in my cave where it is nice and humid, just the way B. Linens likes it.

Curds with vegetable ash layer on top

The vegetable ash was another fun additive to play with. It’s literally charred up vegetables and totally edible, but tasteless. It’s messy stuff too; very fine and easily scattered. The recipe even said to wear gloves and work in a draft-less area. I didn’t wear gloves, but didn’t have too much trouble until it was time to press the cheese. There was still enough moisture in the curds that the whey floated the vegetable ash and leaked it out the sides of the cheese. I don’t know if that is normal, and I hope there is still some ash inside the wheel to make the ash line. The outside of the cheese got coated though, making it look like a ball of black and white marble, which is coincidental (or maybe not), because the recipe plays on the protected Morbier name by calling it Marbler.

Kadova Mold jury-rigged with cheese cloth

Lastly, I have a brief follow-up on the Kadova mold. Remember, the last time I used it with the Jarlsberg, the mesh insert melded with the curds and stuck indelibly to the wheel. I had to scrape it off with a knife, ruining the rind of the cheese, and requiring emergency vacuum sealing to save it. This time I was admittedly too chicken to use the mold again – or at least the mesh inserts. Instead, I lined the Kadova mold with cheese cloth, wrapped it over the top of the wheel, and used the follower for pressing. Things went much, much better and my wheel came out perfectly, with an intact rind, which is fortunate, because there would be no vacuum salvation for this natural rind cheese that needs bathing on a regular basis.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    April 1, 2012 6:05 pm

    It looks pretty ugly but the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof…. I hope it turns out well. Are you only looking for comments or are you looking to answer questions from would-be cheese makers or cheese beginners?? For example, as I understand it B.Linens is a Red Bacteria, and you either add it to the milk OR use it as a rind treatment – though of course I guess you could use it for both at the same time. With Penicillium Roqueforti for blue cheese, the smallest amount I can get (in Canada) is sufficient for 1000 gallons and it has a relatively short shelf life. Where do you get your bacterial cultures from in California?

    Incidentally I presume you make sour dough bread using the San Francisco starter?

    • April 2, 2012 9:42 am

      Hi David,
      I have ordered most of my cultures online, either from the New England Cheese Making Supply Co. ( or The Cheesemaker ( New England tends to package their cultures in small quantities (individual doses) especially for home cheese makers making small batches. The Cheesemaker sells larger, but still manageable quantities and I tend to prefer ordering from them (New England is a bit too commercial for my taste and is actually more expensive, because they essentially mark up their prices for the convenience of the individually-packaged doses of cultures.) I have also tried “cloning” store bought cheeses before – blending up chunks of blue cheese to inoculate my milk – but with no success so far. As far as the recipe testing I am doing for the cheese making book, the author is supplying me with all the cultures and ingredients. I don’t know where she gets them, but I think she has said that she likes Dairy Connection (

      And yes, I make my sourdough with a starter I made from scratch. Local yeasts, so as San Francisco as you can get!

  2. April 1, 2012 11:17 pm

    Okay, so you had me at the gangsta bacteria additive. Sorry I’m misrepresenting you on Pinterest, but it did get re-pinned twice…🙂

    • David permalink
      April 2, 2012 7:57 am

      I don’t know what momsicle is talking about. What is gangsta bacteria and Pinterest? I am just a simple septuagenarian in Canada. There is no point in writing something unless it can be understood.

      I noticed this Morbi-YAY was posted on 1st April but I didn’t think it was an April Fool’s joke. Is it?

      • April 2, 2012 9:45 am

        No April Fools. She was just referring to an outside conversation we had.

    • April 2, 2012 9:44 am

      Haha, that’s okay. I’m happy letting people think that’s the cheese I made!

  3. David permalink
    April 3, 2012 10:46 am

    Thank you for the links to various cheese making suppliers websites. I had a look at them all and have to say that our Canadian supplier has much the same and more AND they are slightly cheaper. They have an outlet in the US so as to avoid any problems with crossing the border and to take advantage of the US postal rates. Check

    • April 3, 2012 7:13 pm

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll look into that one next time I need supplies.


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