Chandlers Choice (Fontina) recipe

Here is a recipe for my version of Fontina, or as I call it – Chandlers Choice. This is a lovely versatile cheese, which, if eaten young is mild, creamy and fresh, if aged, the Lipase helps the cheese to mature into a stronger more robust flavour with a terrific aftertaste, see my cheese list for further details.

I use:

10 litres of 2% fat, pasteurised milk for this recipe (you can add cream if you want to).

½ teaspoon of powdered Mesophilic starter.

¼ to ½ teaspoon of Lipase powder (to taste).

½ teaspoon of Calcium Chloride (not essential). Dilute as below.

1/2 teaspoon of Rennet diluted in ¼ cup of cooled boiled water.

Cheese Salt for making Brine (see washed cheese article for percentages).

My Method:

In your usual stainless steel 10 litre cheese making pan, slowly raise the temperature of the milk to 88°F (30°C) then turn off the heat.

Sprinkle the starter over the milk, mix in well and let it stand for a while, then add the Lipase, I let all of that ripen for half an hour to 45 minutes.

If using, add the Calcium Chloride and mix in, then a couple of minutes later, the rennet, once again mixing in well; cover and maintain temperature.

Once you have a set which gives you a clean break (about 45 to 60 minutes) cut the curd into 15 cm or ½ inch cubes then stand for 5 minutes.  Stir the curd  for 5 minutes then start raising the temperature slowly to 102°F ( about 38°C) stirring every couple of minutes to prevent the curd from matting (Fig 1).

Having reached the required temperature switch off the heat and let everything rest, the curds will sink to the bottom of the pan and matt together (Fig 2).

I then place the curd into my ever faithful Laude Gouda mould and press in my New England cheese press at 40 pounds for 2 hours, take out the cheese, turn it and re press at 50 pounds for a further 2 hours, turn again and stand at 50 pounds for 12 hours or overnight.

Make up some medium – heavy Brine (15% Salinity) in a bowl large enough to rest the cheese in for 12 hours, turning the cheese after 6 hours.

After the specified time, remove from the Brine wipe dry with paper towel or wipes, then place in the ripening box; turn the cheese every day and dry any moisture from the ripening box until the cheese starts to form a rind (Fig 3).

You will find the cheese needs to be rubbed or dressed with salt once a week to prevent the growth of mould on the outside.

After a couple of weeks, the rind will be dry to the touch and not forming mould, at this point the cheese should be rubbed with olive oil to keep the rind moist and reasonably soft (Fig 4).

The cheese is now ready to go into the fridge at about 4°C, you can wrap it in cheese wrap if you wish to, but I normally don't bother. It's ready to eat after 6 weeks or for stronger flavoured cheese, 3 months. If you are going to wait for the 3 months, you will need to keep checking the cheese every week, turning and occasionally dressing in olive oil (Fig 5). It would also be worthwhile wrapping the cheese if you are going for that period of time.

For those of you who don't have a Laude Gouda, the process is as follows:   

Line a 2 lbs cheese mould with cheesecloth, fill with curds, cover with the cloth and press at 10 lbs for 10 minutes.

Take the cheese out of the mould, peel back the cloth, turn the cheese and place back in the cloth lined press, placing a pressure of 10 lbs for 30 minutes.

Repeat the process once again only this time put 20 lbs of pressure on the cheese for up to 12 hours.

After that place in the Brine and follow as above.


A version of this article has been published on the New England Cheese website blog.