Monday, January 05, 2009

Farmhouse Cheddar

I made cheese last night using the cheese press John made for me as a Christmas present from plans he modified from Fias Dairy using the redwood and Port Orford Cedar we had available. I applied some homemade furniture polish (equal parts of beeswax and oils, like almond and coconut, melted together) to it to waterproof the wood and make the pieces slide more easily.

I have a hard cheesemaking kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply and followed the recipe. It so magical to see the milk separate into solids with the yellowish whey coming out after you add rennet...

I drained the curds and stacked them in the mold with the follower in the press. The photos below show the press setup. A cut-away pie pan allows the whey to drain off the press into a bowl below. I added handweights as necessary to increase the pressing weight to 50 pounds. Once I ran out of handweights I added 10 pound sacks of sugar and flour. The height of the frame meant that those weights wouldn't fall off the press. When I jerryrigged presses in the past, that was always a problem and it was tough to balance more than 20 pounds.

After 12 hours I removed the cheese and will let it air-dry for 2-4 days to develop a rind. I'll then wax it and put it away until April so it ages nicely. I'll let you know how it turns out. If my scraps are any indication, I think it's going to be really tasty.

The picture below shows how 2 gallons of milk turns into a cheese cyllinder roughly 4" high and 6" round. It's white because I didn't choose to add traditional cheddar coloring.

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