Clean all surfaces and equipment before beginning. Set up a draining station by placing a clean colander lined with the cheesecloth in the sink.
Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed stockpot and warm over medium heat to 86 degrees F, stirring gently. Remove from the heat.
Add the cultures and mold to the milk. Allow them to hydrate for 2 minutes, then stir in, using an up-and-down motion.
Add the calcium chloride solution and stir briefly. Add the rennet solution. Stir in for 20 seconds, then stop the motion of the milk but stirring the opposite direction for a moment. As you add the rennet, start a timer and watch for the flocculation point**. When reached, stop the timer. Multiply the number of minutes elapsed by 5.5. This is how long you need to wait before you cut the curd. Goal time is 90 minutes.
At the timed moment, cut the curd into ½-inch pieces. Stir gently for 10 minutes, then let the curds settle to the bottom of the pot for another 10 minutes.
Pour off the whey that has collected at the top of the pot, then gently pour the curds into the prepared colander. Cover the colander with additional cheesecloth or knot the corners of the cloth to form a pouch. Drain for 12 hours at room temperature.
Afterward, open up the cheesecloth and move the drained curds to a bowl. With clean hands, break the curd into walnut-size chunks. Add half the salt to the curd chunks, toss to incorporate, then wait 2 minutes. Add the remaining salt and repeat the mixing process. The curds will taste very salty.
After salting, fill your prepared cheese form with the curds, packing them in, using your fingertips to very gently press down on the cheese. Do not press too hard (or you will compact all the spaces where the blue mold is going to grow) but use enough pressure that the cheese starts to knit together slightly. An underpressed cheese will fall apart when flipped. Place the curd-filled form on a draining rack (such as a sushi mat).
Keep the cheese in its form, at room temperature, for 8 to 10 hours more, flipping after 2 hours and again after 6 hours. Flipping is especially easy if you are using an open-bottomed form.
Finally, remove the cheese from its form by gently pushing it out and onto an aging mat (such as a sushi mat). With a knife or spatula, gently smear the sides of the cheese–as though you were frosting a cake–to help fill in the gaps and to form a more closed rind. Move slowly; I know it’s difficult to do because the cheese is crumbly. Move the cheese into a clean aging bin. Cover with the lid. Place the bin in a 65 degree F location for 2 to 3 days. This warmer period is important for acid development that activates the blue mold spores. Remove built-up moisture from the bin as needed.
After 2 to 3 days, take the knitting needle and pierce the cheese a half dozen times horizontally. You can make more pierces vertically if you wish.
Now move the bin and cheese to a cooler (50 to 55 degrees F) location. Keep the lid on the box but not locked down. Turn the cheese every 3 days. Begin to wipe the rind with your fingertips or a small piece of cheesecloth if excessive molds start to grow. Eventually, the rind will start to feel sticky and turn brown or pinkish in color.
For extra veining, pierce the cheese again between days 10 and 14.
Ripen the cheese for 6 to 8 weeks, flipping and maintaining the rind and moisture levels. Ripen the cheese for 3 to 5 weeks longer if aging in a refrigerator.
Enjoy, or wrap the cheese in aluminum foil and keep in the fridge, uncut, for up to 1 month.
*To prehydrate cultures: two hours before beginning your batch of cheese, take 1 cup of warm (about 86 degrees F) milk (just grab it from the milk you’ll be using) and sprinkle the freeze-dried cultures over the surface. Wait 2 minutes for them to hydrate, then stir in. Hold this cup in a warm location for up to 2 hours, and ideally no less than 1 hour before adding it to the vat when called for in the recipe.**To find the flocculation point: At the same time you start the timer, set a bottle cap (upside down) or a Styrofoam bowl (right-side up) on the surface of the milk. It should float. Use your finger to tap the cap or bowl. Keep tapping until it stops moving easily and seems to bounce backward toward your finger; at that moment, stop the timer. This is the flocculation point. Take the number of minutes that passed and multiply by the numerical factor given in the recipe.From Kitchen Creamery