Making Cheddar Cheese

Rob and I have been making mozzarella for a few months now with our delicious raw milk but we decided last month to branch out and make something different. So, we tried cheddar. We don’t know if it came out ok or what it tastes like yet, but when it’s ready in December, you’re welcome to come and try some. We decided to age the first cheddar for 3 months because we are dying to taste it and don’t think we can wait much longer than that.

So, last week I started a new batch of cheddar and decided to document it with lots of great pictures.

You can use milk from the store to make cheese but raw milk will yield a richer tasting cheese. Pasteurized milk is usually ultra pasteurized and you won’t get a very good curd. Homogenized milk means not as much butterfat content. So not as creamy of a cheese.

We get our milk from a really nice place about ten minutes away called Freedom Hill Farm. The milk comes from Jersey Cows. Ronan loves to go on the drive to get milk because he gets to visit all the cows before we go home.
Raw Milk
The darker yellow milk at the top is cream.

So this is how to make cheddar cheese:

Ingredients list is as follows:
* 1 gallon milk
* 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
* 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet or 1/4 rennet tablet
* 1/4 cup cool water
* 2 teaspoons salt
Items you will need:
* cheese cloth for hard cheeses
* cheese mold for hard cheeses
* cheese press or weights or books (this is what I did until I got some weights no pics but it was certainly a sight to see)
* beeswax
* thermometer
* wood follower
Wood Follower
I cut this follower with my scrollsaw.

This is what a cheese mold looks like for those who are curious.
Cheese Mold

In a large stainless or enamel pot, warm the milk to 88 degrees F and stir in buttermilk.
Milk in Stainless Steel Pot

Allow the milk to sit for one hour. I put the pot in the stove with the stove light on to keep the temperature as close to 88 degrees F as possible.

After one hour, mix the rennet in the water and stir into the milk.
You can buy rennet tablets at some grocery stores. Adams Fairacre Farms definitely has it in the custard/pudding section. It is called Junket Rennet. But I can tell you from experience, if you want to seriously get into cheesemaking, buy the liquid rennet. It is more consistent in forming curds.

Put the milk back into the stove with the light on so that the milk can coagulate. The curd should form in about an hour and is ready to cut when you dip your finger into the curds and they break cleanly over your finger as whey fills the depression.
Clean Break

Cut the curds into 1/2-inch cubes.
Cutting the Curd

Let them rest for 20 minutes, then stir them while increasing the temperature to 102 degrees F. Try to increase the heat very slowly over a 30-minute period. Stir often to prevent the curds from matting together. Keep at 102 degrees F until the curds have firmed up enough where they feel spongy when gently squeezed between your fingers and no longer have a custard-like interior. This will usually take about 30 minutes.

Let the curds settle to the bottom of the pot and carefully pour off some of the whey. Pour remaining curds and whey into a colander and allow to drain.
Curd Draining

Place the curds back into the pot and stir in the salt. Mix well, breaking up any curds that have matted together. Let the curd and salt mixture sit for an hour but stir often to keep the curds from matting.

Line your cheese mold with cheesecloth, scoop curds into the mold and fold over any excess cheesecloth. Place a wood follower on top of that and press at 15 pounds pressure for 20 minutes. Remove the cheese from the press, turn over and press at 30 pounds pressure for three hours. Remove cheese from press, turn over and press at 50 pounds for 24 hours.
Our Version of a Cheese Press
When I first made cheddar, I didn’t have weights so I filled a glass one gallon jar with water and placed that on top of the cheese and follower. Then I added the books until I reached whatever weight I needed. Now I have the weights but Rob promises that he is going to make a cheese press for me before the year is out.

In the morning, remove the cheese from the press
Pressed Cheese

and remove the cheesecloth.
Cheese Just Out of the Press

Allow to air dry 3 to 5 days until the cheese is dry to the touch. Turn several times a day while it is drying.
Dried Cheese

Coat with beeswax when the cheese is dry to the touch. They sell a paraffin cheese wax but we are testing out beeswax. No petroleum, natural product.
I just melt the beeswax in a small pot
Melted Beeswax

and use a barbecue brush to brush the wax onto the cheese.
Waxing the Cheese

Age in the refrigerator for 3 to 24 months, depending on how strong you like the cheese. Really good cheddar is aged for 12 months or more.
Waxed Cheese

This Saturday, we are going to try Parmesan Cheese. Stay tuned…once we’re done making it, I’ll post instructions and pictures.



Filed under Cheese, Food

8 responses to “Making Cheddar Cheese

  1. I’ve been thinking about starting to make cheese, and really liked all the pictures of the process in your post. Very helpful!

  2. ladybuggarden

    Thank you and good luck in your cheese making. If you ever have any questions, let me know. Also check back soon if you are interested in making Parmesan cheese, because I am going to try it out next week.

  3. Mom

    That’s so neat, I loved the photos. I have been enjoying making hard cheese too. I made my own press at home and it’s been working very well. It was quite simple to make, too.

    My raw milk comes from Jersey cows, too. I don’t have a farm, I get my milk from my Amish neighbors.

    I would like to link into your page on my own cheese making blog.

  4. ladybuggarden

    Let me know your blog address, I’d love to link to your site too. Cheesemaking is so much fun! What cheeses have you made? I think after a couple tries at Parmesan, I’m going to try making Gouda.

  5. This post is THE MOST helpful cheesemaking source I have found! THANKS SO MUCH!

  6. Angela Vincent

    Great pictures, and thanks for the step by step. Do you skim off the cream? We usually get about 1 1/2 pints of cream per gallon on our raw milk, and I don’t know if all that is necessary, so I skim what I can off.

  7. Hi,

    I will be making my first cheese soon and I also keep bees. How did it go using beeswax on your cheese? I would like to try it if you had success. No paraffin in this house!


    • ladybuggarden

      Hi Lauren. It went really well. It did a great job of sealing the cheese. Beekeeping…my husband and I were thinking of getting into beekeeping. How is it?

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