May 9, 2008
Toma is a semi-firm, natural rind, cow's milk cheese.
Having tackled Camembert and Cheddar, the intrepid beginner cheesemakers set their sights on a semi-firm variety: Toma. The family of Toma has members in every village of northern Italy; their ages and textures vary, but they're all from the same thermophilic stock. Our instructor, Jim Wallace, calls this version Vacha Toscano, because it's made with cow's milk in the Tuscan style.
Toma is a highly customizable cheese because its optimal aging time is determined by the moisture content of its curd. If you want to eat the cheese in three months, shoot for a quarter-inch curd size and stir it for twenty minutes before draining the whey. If you can wait a year for the cheese to age, cut the curd smaller and stir it longer.
By the way, you can throw in some dried herbs or peppercorns when molding the cheese. Jim recommends whole peppercorns and smoked jalapenos. We sampled a year-aged wheel studded with white peppercorns in the traditional pepato style.
Now, if I could just get my hands on some ewe's milk, I could make pecorino Toscano!