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.
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)
* wood follower
I cut this follower with my scrollsaw.
This is what a cheese mold looks like for those who are curious.
In a large stainless or enamel pot, warm the milk to 88 degrees F and stir in buttermilk.
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.
Cut the curds into 1/2-inch cubes.
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.
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.
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
and remove the cheesecloth.
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.
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
and use a barbecue brush to brush the wax onto 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.
This Saturday, we are going to try Parmesan Cheese. Stay tuned…once we’re done making it, I’ll post instructions and pictures.