Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cheese, Round 1

For Christmas my brother bought me this cheesemaking kit. By coincidence, my sister bought HIM a cheesemaking kit. You could say my family rides on our own special brainwave. Having never made cheese before, I am more than slightly intimidated. I enjoy making things and then getting to eat them within an hour or two, but this, THIS you must wait for so you don't down how delicious the fruit of your labors are. The cheddar ages for 2 months MINIMUM, and the parmesan, which I'm dying to try, takes 10 months. I realized that by the time I get to enjoy it, I'll be in college. The thought was too intimidating, so I decided to hold off on that adventure for another day.
As I began making my cheese, I followed the directions very carefully, but despite reading them over and over again, I felt confused and did everything lacking the confidence I like to feel when cooking. My kit came from Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit. Perhaps the ONLY cheesemaking kit, but still awesome. It comes with all the extremeophiles that you need and cheese cloth, strainer, thermometer. Unfortunately, my thermometer broke halfway through making, so I switched to my chocolate thermometer, but I'd recommend having a high quality extra handy if you're about to make this.

 Due to the size restrictions of my pots, I made a half batch - so one gallon of milk instead of two.

1 gallon whole milk (You can use whatever you have at your grocery store, so long as it is NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic DVI MA culture              
1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water (OR 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1⁄2 cup nonchlorinated water)
1 tablespoon noniodized salt

In a large cooking pot, warm the milk to 90ºF (32.2ºC). Add the mesophilic culture and stir in gently until blended. Topstir for about one minutes using a slotted spoon to gently stir the cream on top. Allow to sit for an hour while maintaining constant temperature of 90ºF (I turned my burner  to its lowest heat and kept an eye on it.
Slowly add the rennet solution into the milk, stirring gently with a whisk. Stir for very gently for a couple minutes. Allow the milk to set for 1 to 2 hours until a firm curd is set. Gently cut it using a knife that reaches the bottom of the pot.

Cutting the curds
 Cut the curds into 1/4-inch  cubes. Allow the curds to sit for 15 minutes to firm up.
Fill a sink with hot water (around 105ºF).

Place the pot in the hot water to warm the curds up to 100ºF, slowly. It should take between 20-30 minutes. During this time, gently stir the curds every few minutes so they don’t mat together.

 Let sit at 100ºF for 15 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the mixture to drain off the whey. Pour quickly and do not allow the curds to mat.

Mix the curds to separate any particles that have matted. Add the salt and mix thoroughly.

Hang the cheese in the cheesecloth for an hour to let any extra whey drip away.

Place the cheesecloth and the curds into a mold.

Dripping whey

Press the cheese with about 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes. Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. Press the cheese with about 20 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.

FINALLY putting those college course catalogs to good use
 Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. Press the cheese with about 20 pounds of weight for another 12 hours. Remove the cheese from the press.
Place the cheese on a wooden cutting board and dry at room temperature for 3 to 5 days until it feels dry and begins to form a rind.

At this point you want to wax the cheese and age it in your refrigerator for 2 to 24 months. The longer the cheese is aged, the sharper the flavor it will develop.
Not sure how to wax? Here's a how-to!

Cheese all rindy and ready to go

I bought a pound of cheese wax (and yes, you do really want to use cheese wax, not paraffin or melted crayons. Cheese wax is designed to be more flexible so it is less likely to break during the drying period.)

 I made a double boiler using my large cheese pot (now cleaned) and a metal bowl. Melt the wax and paint the cheese with one thin layer.

Wait for it to dry, then paint another layer, being careful to fill in any holes or bubbles. I recommend painting on a label so you know when it is good to eat.

Store in a cool, humid place if possible. Refrigerators, while not ideal, will do the job.

I keep my wax in a metal container so I never have to clean it out. Just let it cool so it's ready for the next use! Also, you can peel the wax of cheese, wash it, and use it again!


  1. Can you explain the cheese press in greater detail in an entry?

    1. I'd love to! I'll try to get that up within a day or two

    2. Here you go! I hope it's helpful. Let me know if you have any questions