My Adventures in Cheddar
As promised, I did receive a cheese press for my birthday. It is an old style Dutch version and it’s really big. But regardless of it’s size, it makes cheese and that’s the only thing that matters.
I wanted to start out making the easiest of the hard cheeses. Although, making even the most difficult cheeses isn’t really that hard it’s just time consuming. Anyway, I chose a nice farmhouse cheddar. My cheese making book said that you should wax this cheese and age it for at least one month. At the time that I made this cheddar I was so excited that I started making it and didn’t have any wax – by the time I ordered it and it came we had already eaten all the cheese– even so, it wasn’t bad. All that to say, you should let it age so it’ll taste it’s very best!
Ok here we go!
As always, my cheese making recipes come from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
What you’ll need…
a cheese press – there are lots of kinds: check them out here!
2 pound cheese mold
2 gallons whole milk (I have my secret raw milk hook up, but just pasteurized milk will work too)
1 packet direct-set mesophillic starter
½ tsp liquid rennet (1/2 rennet tablet) dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
1 tbs cheese salt
cheese wax – or not, whatever.
Heat the milk to 90 degrees. Add the starter and let it ripen for 45 minutes. Just enough time to watched that taped episode of Project Runway – if you fast forward through commercials!
Add the dilute rennet and stir gently with an up and down motion for one minute. Cover and let stand at 90 degrees for another 45 minutes or until the curd gives a clean break.
Cut the curd into ½ inch cubes.
Here’s the only tricky part and it’s not even that tricky. Fill up your sink with really hot water. Put the pot in the water and slowly raise the temperature of the cheese by no more that two degrees per minute. This sounds really complicated but it’s not. The cheese won’t naturally heat up really fast just by putting it in the water. It’s in a huge pot and it’ll take a while. Just if you see the temperature starting to get high fast pour some cool water in the sink to slow it down.
Stir the curds gently to prevent matting. You’ll notice that the curds are shrinking too – that’s good! Cover and let the curds rest for five minutes.
Put curds into a cheese cloth lined colander and drain for 1 hour. Afterwards, break apart the curds into walnut sized pieces and mix with salt.
Firmly pack the curds into the mold. Press at 10 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. Take the cheese out, remove the cloth, flip the cheese over, redress and press it at 20 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. Repeat this process except now press the cheese at 50 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.
Afterwards, remove the cloth and let the cheese air dry on a cheese board until the rind is developed and the cheese is dry. For me, in this humid Chicago summer, it took 5 days, but it could take anywhere for 2-5 days depending. Flip the cheese over several times a day so it doesn’t get moist on the one side.
After it’s dry, wax the cheese. Here’s a cool video of waxing a wheel of cheese.
Let it sit on your counter for one month. Then savor the goodness.