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"Tout fait Maison" probably is the closest way to express how I like to live my life. I have always love making everything from scratch in my own kitchen since I was a little girl growing up in Hong Kong. Unfortunately kitchens in Hong Kong are much smaller and people do not always have the "real" oven there but only the toaster type oven. Therefore, things did not always turn out in my Hong Kong kitchen until I get my real kitchen here. To me, baking and working with dairy products are like doing science experiments. I get extremely excited when I see that my cheese is forming the way it should be or my bread is rising properly. When my end products come out perfectly, that is probably what I strive for. So I would like to share my secrets with all my friends who enjoy baking and enjoy kitchen experiments as much as I do. I have been a French trained aritsan chocolatier for the last 8 years and I still feel like there are so much to learn in the chocolate and pastry field. Having traveled the world and trained in two of the most amazing schools in France (Valrhona Chocolates and Lenotre),my goal is to spread my joy of baking to all of you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

St. Marcellin Cheese Making

There are about 350 to 400 types of French Cheese known and each type has many varieties which makes up over 1000 types of cheese in France.  And the St. Marcellin has got to be one of my favorite cheese to eat.  St. Marcellin Cheese is a soft ripen cheese with a very soft and gooey texture almost runny sometimes.  It has a melting buttery flavor to the cheese which usually comes in a very pretty ceramic dish.  St. Marcellin is made with cow's milk and came from a little town of St. Marcellin.  The first time I had this cheese was when I was getting my chocolate training at Valrhona in Rhone Valley and ever since then I totally fell in love with this cheese.  Cheese Making gives me a very rewarding feeling and the ritual of having to take care of the cheese so carefully is quite therapeutic to me.  Every step of making cheese is fascinating and just how it is that people were so clever to transform a simple source of nutrition: Milk to such a delicious piece of edible art is totally beyond me.  Cheese is simply a way to preserve milk.  Using rennet and culture to turn milk liquid into a solid form and add some flavor and texture in the process, just brilliant.  So if you have been following my blog, I have posted some fresh cheese that do not really need much attention and aging.  Since then, I have taken on more challenge to make more advanced cheese such as the St. Marcellin.  Currently I am working on a few other ones which I will blog in the upcoming posts so stay tuned.  I promise you that once you make the St. Marcellin you will have a much better understanding of how soft ripened cheese is made and next time when you step into a cheese store or IF you ever buy another cheese from a cheese store, you will be looking at cheeses and say to yourself "ooooo I can make that, and that and that....."  Happy Cheese making to you!!

  • 3L Whole Cow's milk (Non homogenized Organic Milk is the best, Jersey Milk or Guernsey)
  • 1/8 tsp. mesophillic culture
  • 1/16 tsp. Penicillium Candidum mold powder
  • Pinch of Geotrichum Candidum 15 mold powder (using your thumb and index finger to grab a pinch)
  • 1/16 tsp. Animal liquid rennet
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt

How to make the cheese:

  • Sterilize all equipment when making cheese and I cannot stress this enough and this does not mean just to wash with detergent, this means that you should use chlorine solution to wash and rinse everything before starting as you do not want any unwanted mold to form during the process and ruin your cheese that you age after a few weeks of precious labor.  Cleanliness is number one in all of cheese making projects.  So please sterilize everything!!
  • Fill a large stainless steel pot with milk then warm milk over low heat to bring the milk up to 75 degree F stir gently once in a while to prevent scorching then remove from heat
  • Now carefully sprinkle the mesophillic culture powder, and both of the mold powder over the surface of the milk, let it sit and rehydrate for 5 minutes (not 4 not 6, 5 minutes!)
  • Stir milk ever so gently with an up and down motion, best with a skimmer to well distribute the culture and the mold powder throughout the milk
  • Dilute rennet into 1/8 cup of filtered water (non chlorine water, bottle water okay)
  • Add the diluted rennet solution to the milk at this time
  • Cover pot and let sit for 12 hours
You should see the whey (the yellow liquid) floating on top of the cheese when the curd is ready to cut

  • Do not attempt to work with the curd until 12 hours is up, because anytime before then the curd will not be ready for cutting and you will ruin the outcome of the cheese
  • When it is ready to cut, there should be a clean break when you cut a little on the surface of the cheese
  • Using a long knife or cake spatula proceed to cutting the curd both vertically and horizontally into small 1inch cubes

  • Since this is a soft ripened cheese you want to retain a good portion of moisture in the cheese as it age therefore, refrain from stirring the curd as that will dry out the end result which you do not want
  • Place 4 to 5 plastic St. Marcellin molds on a draining rack as shown in picture or figure a way to drain the cheese
  • Carefully ladle the curds into the molds, you might have to do that a few times as the curds will need time to drain the whey and keep on ladling until the molds are full please do not attempt to add more molds as the curds should fit into the 4 to 5 molds

  • Let drain for 6 hours and flip the cheeses in molds, please use disposable gloves or with clean hands when making any contact with the cheese
  • Now get the salt and sprinkle 1/4 tsp. salt on the surface of each cheese then let drain for another 6 hours then flip again and put back inside the mold now salt the other side of the cheese and let drain for another 6 hours.  I like to cover my cheese with a piece of cheese cloth while draining to keep possible insects to get on to the cheese
  • After the 6 hours, the cheese should be hard enough to be transfer to either cheese mat (clean and sanitized bamboo sushi mat) or I get these small storage boxes in Japanese store with a drainer inside which is perfect for aging the cheese
These are ones I used Sushi mats to drain

  • Put them into a bigger storage box and make sure you clean and sanitize the storage box really well with chlorine water as well, rinse, and dry
  • Cover the lid lightly and let the cheese drain in there for the next 48 hours, make sure you flip the cheese daily and remove any whey collected under the mat or drain trays inside the storage box
These are ones I used the little draining storage boxes from the Japanese store to drain and please note that these are not the same batch from the picture above

  • By now, there should be some signs of the white mold forming around the cheeses and that is what you want to happen

  • The cheese should now be pretty dry and not dripping anymore and now the cheeses are ready to be aged

  • To create a perfect environment for St. Marcellin to age, they should be aging at 60 degree F with 80% humidity and it is quite hard to figure out the humidity unless you have a fancy thermostat but the way I do it is I put them covered into a wine cooler which will retain most moisture anyway and then I put a pan of water inside to reassure the humidity in the environment.  If you do not want to invest in a wine cooler then I will try and find either the basement or the a part of your home that will be closest to 60 degree to age the cheese as that is the perfect temperature for the molds to grow and for the cheese to mature
They are in the wine cooler set to 60 degree with a tray of water on the bottom of the cooler for humidity

  • For the next few weeks, you just have to flip the cheese and whip off moisture from the inside of the container and the cheese when the cheese is totally covered by the white mold and form a solid skin which mean that the cheese are now protected and you can keep it this way for 2 weeks
I do put the individual lids on to cover the boxes to retain moisture while cheese is aging

  • After that wrap the cheese either in cheese wax paper or plastic wrap to further the aging process and the cheese should get pretty gooey by this point and if it does not, just let them age longer and they will eventually get very soft and the skin will turn a bit yellowish in color
Voila!! Bon Appetite!



  1. Fascinating stuff!! I just can't wait to start making mine (thanks to your encouragement) and hope they come out as nice as yours. I'll even be happy with half as nice!! Thank you for the post and for showing step by step St Marcellin in the making...your beautiful pics just makes everything eye candy!!

    1. oh g, it will be even nicer than mine!!! i will walk you thru every steps of the way, so dont worry, GO GO GO!!! =) and thank you both for always boosting my big fat ego ha ha

  2. Awesome stuff! Almost makes me want to do this.. almost... but laziness wins out :-) If I had a lab with all the right equipment at my fingertips, I would do it in a heartbeat since your instructions are so clear and simple. As it is, I will just hope that one day I visit you when you have a batch ready to be tasted!

    1. And you will trade that for a big headache Naka? I am so inspired to make you a dolce gorganzola trust me i have been looking into that and when I succeed that one, you will be the first to get some!! Thank you for always supporting me in what I do, I am so lucky to have friends like you two.

    2. oh oh and yes, I am sure you ALMOST want to do this mmmm hmmmm

  3. I sometimes get a bitter after taste. How do you avoid that?