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Cheesemakers and/or mongers: Tell me about edible ash

nns Jan 12, 2008 02:26 PM

I am at the very beginning of the cheesemaking learning curve, and have just made my first batch of chevre. My obscure question for you Chowhounders is: What kind of ash is used in making ash-covered or ash-lined cheeses (i.e., Humbolt Fog, Bonne Bouche, etc.)? Is it incredibly foolish of me to think I could just use ash from the seasoned hardwoods I use in my wood-burning stove? Any information would be much appreciated.

  1. c
    cheesemonger Jan 15, 2008 10:49 AM

    I've always believed that it was a cherrywood ash. At least for French cheeses, but now that I think of it, I can't for the life of me recall the source for that. Let me look around.

    I know that it's possible to purchase french cheese ash. As long as you aren't using any pressure/chemical treated woods in your stove, or any toxic trees, I don't see why you couldn't sift out some wood ash from your stove, frankly. I think chestnut or hickory would be fine- evergreens probably have a resiny-ness to them that might be a problem.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cheesemonger
      nns Jan 17, 2008 05:21 PM

      Thank you for the insight! Frankly, given the minimal amount of ash needed for many of these cheeses, I wonder whether you could even tell the difference between cherry and grape vines (or whatever else is rumored to be the source of the cheese ash). That said, I only burn seasoned hardwood in my stove, and would be willing to try it out for fun. If I suffer any gastric distress, I will let you know!

    2. c
      chez cherie Jan 12, 2008 04:25 PM

      i know that morbier is made with vegetable ash. apparently it used to be wood ash, but it's veg ash in modern times.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chez cherie
        nns Jan 15, 2008 09:51 AM

        Do you know why they switched?

        1. re: chez cherie
          violabratsche Jan 15, 2008 10:41 AM

          (isn't morbier wonderful?)


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