Mel I Mató

by Julio Figueroa, NSW

Mel I Mató Cheese My Way is an artisan cheese from Catalonia and Balearic Islands. Made from sheeps or goats milk, it is a classic from the medieval period (XIV).








Elaboration method


All stainless steel utensils need to be clean and sanitized with boiling water before use.


Heat the milk and lemon peel up to 40 degrees celsius in a pot over low/medium heat, stirring gently and controlling temperature with a thermometer.


Once temperature has been reached, take the pot out of the heat, and remove the lemon peel from the milk. Add the drops of calcium chloride stirring slowly for 30 seconds. Add rennet diluted in not chlorinated water, keep stirring for 15 seconds more. Put the lid on and let it rest and set for 45 min without moving.


After resting, use a knife and check if milk/curd has set using the tip of the knife making a clean little incision/break on the milk (it will look like cutting jelly). If still not set enough let it rest for 15 min more. At this stage we have the curd and rennet ready to work and make the cheese.


Cut the curd into 2cm squares (squared path) using the knife vertical and touching the base of the pot. Let it rest for 15min. with lid on. In this way the curd will release the whey better.


After the 15min make more incisions now having 1cm squares and also using the knife in angle. The idea now is to break down the curds smaller so they release more whey. Use the knife cutting in any angle so you will end up with small curd pieces (1cm). Rest 15min more with lid on.


In the meantime place the muslin cloth (damp) over a colander (extended evenly) or cheese mold using a bigger bowl underneath to drain the curds and whey over. If you don’t want to keep the whey you can do this by placing the colander straight over a clean and disinfected sink. (you will end up with around 1.5lt whey).


Take the curds out of the pot using a skimmer or sieve spoon and put them over the muslin cloth/colander. You can keep the whey to poach chicken,to enrich sauces, etc. (you can find in internet 100 ways/recipes to use whey).


Once all the curds are drained over the muslin cloth, fold it over and press them slowly with your hands, you will see that more whey will come out of it (you can hang it squeezing it carefully too), then place it in the fridge so it will naturally keep draining. The more whey we take off the curds, the drier and firm the cheese will be. Check every 1 hour taking the whey out of the bowl so the cheese doesn’t swim in it.


Let it drain and set in the fridge for 4 to 12 hours depending on the desired hardness of the cheese. The more whey we drain the harder and dry the cheese will be. I usually do 4-6 hours so it is soft and moist.


Take the cheese out of the colander/cheese mold and unfold it carefully from the muslin cloth. You can keep the natural shape of it or break it slowly with your hands as traditionally people in Spain do.


Plate it with honey and crushed walnuts on top. Also, lavender flowers and a pinch of sea salt flakes go well with it too!!