In part one of making Bovre, I showed you how to heat your milk, add culture and determine when the curds were ready to drain. In Pt 2 we will look at how to drain the curds, salt them and the options available for shaping and aging.
Draining the Bovre Curds
How long you drain the curds ultimately impacts how soft your cheese will be. If you let it drain for only a few hours you’ll get a mild soft spreadable cheese. I like to mix in herbs and spices and make flavored spreads, and use them as substitutes for cream cheese. Letting it drain for longer, say over night before transferring into the fridge to drain further, will result in a firmer tangier cheese. This can be shaped and coated in flavors, perfect for a charcuterie board.
Draining can happen at different rates depending on the ambient temperature and how much cheese you are making at a time. The final texture is up to you, check your cheese every few hours until it is both the texture and flavor you prefer.
I have also found that an occasional massage of the bag helps with the draining process. The curds pressed up against the cheese cloth drains the fastest, leaving wet curds stuck in the middle. Gently manipulate the curds while they are hanging so that the wet inner curds get a chance to drain.
I made two batches to show you a side by side of pictured above. The right batch was drained around 8 hours and has a nice smooth spreadable consistency. The one on the left I left to drain for a full 24 hours. It is slightly crumbly, and has an almost feta like texture to it, perfect for placing into molds. Experiment and choose what works for you!
Whether you go for a soft or firm curd, salt is necessary to bring out your cheeses’ flavor. I recommend salting by weight as this is the most accurate but you can also add a little at a time to taste. Typically you will need to add about 1% of non-iodized salt by weight. I get around 700-1000 grams from each 1 gallon batch of milk depending on how long I allow it to drain. Thus, I usually add about 6 grams to start and add more to taste if needed.
It is best practice to use non-iodized salt when making cheese even though Bovre does not need to be aged very long, if at all. Iodized salt will kill the starter culture we added at the beginning limiting flavor development. I typically use canning salt but you can use any store bought regular grain non-iodized salt you find on the shelf.
After salting, your cheese is ready to eat! It should be a spreadable slightly tang cheese perfect as a dip for crackers or pretzels. You can mix in any dried herbs or seasonings you would like as part of a delicious appetizer platter for your next holiday get together. At this point the cheese can also be stored in containers and frozen for later use.
In order to shape my curd into rolls or rounds the texture must be fairly dry and preferably cold. For me this means taking some additional steps to remove enough moisture before salting and refrigerating. As mentioned above manipulating the cheese in the cheesecloth several time during the draining process ensures you you get an even texture throughout your cheese before placing in the fridge to firm up.
Additional draining can happen post salting if the curds are placed into a small soft cheese mold and allowed to sit in the fridge for an additional day or two. You can also shape into cylinders, similar to what you would see at the supermarket cheese counter with the help of some plastic wrap. These rounds and cylinders can be placed into the fridge to chill before rolling in herbs and spices.
Bovre is considered a fresh cheese, so you don’t have to worry about humidity, temperature or long months of staring at cheese that isn’t ready to eat yet! However, feel free to keep in the fridge up to two weeks and see how the flavor changes over time. If you are a visual learner or this recipe just doesn’t seem to be working for you, I highly recommend Gavin Webber’s YouTube channel. He has a great video on making Chevrethat I watched when I was first learning. His video Making Chèvre at Home – Soft Goat Cheese is linked here, the same method can be used for making Bovre.
Next post we will look at adding flavors that rival the store bought versions and quick cost analysis to look at whether or not making your own Bovre cheese is cost effective.
Large pot or bowl – to catch whey
Wood Spoon or Spatula – to hang cheesecloth
Soft Cheese Molds
Cling Film – to create cylinders
Once the curds produce a clean break, you can start the draining process. I use a large stock pan and drape my cheese cloth over it to catch my curds. Using a spoon I carefully place my curds into the cheesecloth. You want to do this fairly gently to prevent too much damage to the curds.
Once all my curds are in the pot I take the opposite corners of the cheese cloth and tie them into a knot. I thread a wooden spoon underneath the knots and use my cabinet handles to lift the cheese up to drain. You can also do this in a sink or directly in the pot if it is deep enough.
This can then hang for 8-24 hours or until it is close to the consistency you would like. The longer it hangs the more firm it will become. To help the process and for an even texture along I will gently press around the sides of the bag to encourage even draining.
Once the Bovre is at a consistency you like, you can add non-iodized salt to enhance the cheeses’ flavor. If you are adding salt by weight, place a bowl on a scale and tare. Unwrap cheese from cheese cloth and place into bowl and note weight.
1% salt by weight is typically recommended but I always start with a little less. If you have 900 grams of cheese I will add 7-8 grams of salt to start with.
Use a spoon to mix the salt evenly into the cheese and taste. Add more salt if needed.
At this point the Bovre can be placed into the fridge for immediate use, placed into containers and frozen for later use, or shaped per below.
I prefer to weigh out my cheese but it’s not necessary, you can just eyeball an amount if you prefer. About 4oz is what works best for us but you can use more or less.
I place my molds onto the scale and scoop 4 oz. of cheese into the mold, making sure it is all the way at the bottom and smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.
When making rolls I place my cling film on the scale and weigh out my cheese. I try to place the cheese on the cling film in a roughly even line. Place the cheese on the counter and fold one half of the cling film over the cheese.
Using my fingers or a bench knife, I tighten the cling film around the cheese creating a round tube. I then roll the tube up in the rest of the cling film. Lastly, I twist the ends until they are tight against the cheese before placing the cheese in the fridge to chill.