“Tomme” is an ancient mountain cheese made in the winter when conditions confine the family to the house and the cows to the barn. It is made in farmers’ households when milk production is limited. The milk cannot be taken to a creamery to contribute towards making big cheeses; nor can cheeses made from it be collected and taken regularly to market. So a cheese is needed that will keep until marketing is possible, to tide the household over the cheese-less period during calving. The cheese is often made from partially skimmed milk as the family would take some cream for its own needs.
-Expert from The French Cheese Book by Patrick Rance
4 gallons raw milk
½ teaspoon of MA4001 or MA4002
1 ½ teaspoons veal rennet
1. Heat milk to 90°F
2. Add starter culture to raw milk (for pasteurized milk use twice the amounts)
Note: It is best to keep both cultures on hand and rotate them in in order to prevent phage (a virus that infects bacteria and kills your starter culture). Phage is a problem if you use the same starter culture in all of your batches.
3. Stir for a few minutes then let culture for 30 minutes, maintaining temperature at 90°F
4. Measure out 1 ½ teaspoons of rennet and mix with a little cool tap water. Pour into the cultured milk and stir with a gentle up-and-down motion, evenly stirring in the rennet. After about 35 minutes, check the curd for readiness.
5. Cut curd into corn kernel sized pieces with a series of vertical and horizontal cuts. Let curds settle for 5 minutes.
6. Gently begin stirring curd as you bring up the heat 1 °F every 3 minutes to 95 F, then 1 °F every 2 minutes to 100°F. Total heating time is 25 minutes. Cook higher (up to 102 F) when milk solids are low and (down to 98 °F) when milk solids are high.
7. Cook at 100 °F for 5-30 minutes to firm curds until they are springy in the grip of your hand.
8. Let curds settle for 5 minutes, then drain off whey to the level of curds. Scoop curds into cheese hoops (round forms) lined with cloths. Knead curds into hoops, place follower on top and press with two lb. weight per one lb. curd.
9. After 30 minutes, remove weights, take cheese wheels from cloths, turn, replace cloths and press for one hour more. Repeat these procedure two more times.
10. After 3-4 hours of pressing turn cheese out of cloths and hoops. Cheese should have pH 5.7- 5.8. Move cheese wheels to cellar at 55-58 °F.
11. After 3-5 hours or the following morning, put cheese in saturated (20-23% salt) brine. Brine cheese for 3-4 hours per lb. of cheese. Finished wheels are 8-9 inch in diameter and 3 inches thick and weigh 5 lb.
Ripening: After the cheese wheels are removed from the brine place on shelves and turn every other day. During the next few weeks a variety of wild molds will grow on the rind and should be patted down when the cheeses are turned every 2-3 days. Eventually a moldy coat will cover the cheeses in about one month. Age a min of 3 months.