Sure doesn't look like that now. But, our Guernsey will be fresh in four weeks, so I'll be off and running again. It has been such a luxury to go to the cheese refr. and sort through to get what I want for supper or to send with friends.
I was coming into the kitchen carrying 4 cheeses yesterday. Probably ten pounds of cheese, to take out of wax to send home with some friends that were coming to visit. I was thinking "How cool is this!" What a luxury to have something so special to share. One was an Italian herb and garlic, one was a gouda, one was a "no rinse" that I made up, and one was a super rich (almost a third cream) washed curd, like butter cheese.
I got my last butter out of the freezer this week. It is good to be out of everything when she comes fresh. It just makes you crazy to get into all that milk and butter again.
Answering the questions about refr. temperature and the wax colors.
I had always read that the ideal temperature for aging the cheese was 52 degrees. I was fretting because, no matter how much I tinkered with the settings, I could not get that refr. above 48 degrees. I mentioned that when I was talking with a licensed cheesemaker who makes and sells a lot of cheese. She was emphatic that the temperature should never be above 45 degrees and she would rather see it at 42.
So, what have we learned? The process is obviously very forgiving, because I aged excellent cheese in my basement fruit cupboard room at 52 degrees for two years --- till the gnats found me and my cheese. And, I have aged excellent cheese in the refr. at 48 degrees. And, my friend makes excellent cheese at 42 degrees.
About the wax colors. Although there are some traditional colors for some cheeses, like the goudas. The color in my refr. means nothing. I started with three colors: red, black and yellow. As I re-use the wax, it all goes in the pot to melt together. -- Hence, the various colors in the refr. They are ever changing as I mix them together again for re-use.
As I ran out of wax this past year and ordered more, I had some pure colors again for the first using. I don't like the yellow. It is hard to see if you have a perfect cover on a yellow cheese. The pin holes can be almost invisable.
That light pink happened when I melted the reds and yellows together. Some of that wax has been on a dozen cheeses. I heat it in a double boiler and strain it through a Bounty paper towell. Wipe out the pan and pour the wax back in and heat it for a good while. (Makes me feel like I might have sterilized it.)
I don't mix in the wax that was used on a pepparoni cheese, onion cheese or on a garlic & herb cheese, for fear of imparting that taste and smell to the rest of the wax.
I made one of those pull out drawers "off limits". The cheeses in that drawer will be 12 months old when we open them in June. It never ceases to amaze me that there is a way we can preserve a dairy product for over a year and lose none of the quality and nutrition. How neat is that.
Almost, Homestead2, almost, you have inspired this Anxious Cooking Idiot to try cheese. ;D I have gotten as far as getting the materials together. Got my order in from NE Cheesemaking Supply. Maybe next week I'll actually tackle the First Cheese.
Milkmaid to Katika, Canadienne x Jersey born 5/12/2002 Moxie, Jersey rescue heifer, born 8/2009 Rocky, Katika's steer calf, born 4/27/2010 Duke Wayne, foster Jersey bull calf born 10/10/10 Phoenix (Fee), Katika's heifer calf, born 7/3/2011 Birch, 25-year-old Azteca gelding 11 Clun Forest and cross ewes dogs and cat
Why don't you start with a real real easy one that yields one of the most flavorful, creamy cheeses.
Bring 2 to four gallons of milk right from the cow. (Or, bring refrigerated milk to room temperature.)
Mix in a packet of Direct Set culture (mesophilic) or add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your own culture (mesophilic). Mix really really well. If you are using your own culture, stir it in a cup or bowl until it is smooth and add milk to it in the cup or bowl to thin it and stir, stir, stir, - then, add it to the milk.
Cover the kettle of milk with a towell and leave it for one hour - to two hours. Doesn't matter - each change in the ripening time will make a teeny bit of a change in the final cheese. (That's the beauty of it.)
Add a half teaspoon of rennet to 1/4 cup of water and stir it into the milk thoroughly.
Cover and let it set for an hour to 1 and a half hours . Check to see if it is set firmly. If not leave it a little longer. (Remember, not having the milk warm enough will cause it not to set up well.)
Cut the curd and leave it set for at least half an hour.
Now is the easy part. Stir the kettle every once in a while. As you stirr and large curds come to the top, cut them with your spoon. Cover and go on about your day. Stop back every half hour to hour and give it a stir. Just for ten seconds. As the day progresses, the curd will continue to release whey and you will stir to keep it from matting. If you get side tracked and the curds have matted some, just stir them apart with the spoon or wash your hand and arm very well and swish them apart with your hand.
When the curds are "done", they will promptly settle to the bottom each time you stir, and you will see the change in their texture. They won't get rubber-y and firm like for a cheddar. (The description that they give for the right texture for cheddar is "like cooked chicken".) They won't be like that. They will be springy-er than cottage cheese and firmer, too, but it will remind you of how cottage cheese looks.
Lots of things determine how fast the curds get "done". If you stir it pretty often, it gets done faster. I have had this cheese be ready for the press in 4 hours from cutting the curd and I have had a busy day where it actually took 8 hours. Each of these variations affects the final cheese and gives each one a personality of its own. They are all basically the same, but each a little different.
Drain the whey off and add 3 tablespoons of salt to the curd for each 2 gallons of milk that you used. That seems like a lot of salt, but some of it leaves as the whey presses out. And, that salt makes the cheese have such an excellent flavor.
Line the press with cheesecloth. Put the curds in and press for 24 hours with 45 to 50 pounds. That's a hard press and it's a firm cheese that comes out. I don't flip it or change the cloth. I press ONE time.
Take out of the press and place in the refrigerator for two days to air dry. Wax and let age 3 to 12 months. Ready to eat in 3.
Room temperature milk. Add culture to milk Let ripen Add rennet Let set Cut Curd Let set Stir, stir, stir , stir, stir, stir off and on all day. Drain whey Add salt Put in press Press for 24 hours Air dry in refr. Wax Age
Of the four cheeses that I served to my dinner guests, this is the one that they all said was their favorite. You can change it a little, also, by making it without the cream.
Remember, there is no heat used in making this cheese. No double boiler set up. Just you, one kettle, and a big spoon to stir.
Homestead 2 How do you get the wax to stick to the cheese. I have only tried beeswax and it kept peeling off. I thought it may have been too hot. A cheese supplier in aus sells a liquid which I think is called plastic cheese that you paint on before putting the wax on, but I am trying to avoid using it. Do you dip the cheese in the wax or paint it on? Thanks Sandie
Thanks so much, Homestead2! I can hardly wait to show my DH. He has just returned from a year in Iraq (working) and has heard all about my new friends here on this list. He was never very interested in family cows, but indulged my obsession. He is finally beginning to see things my way! lol I hope one day to have a fridge full of cheese...but so far, I'm struggling with baby steps.
Thanks for an easy recipe Homestead2! I am going to try it too, ohhhhh I am so excited about aging cheese! Does sunlight affect it? We have a glass door beverage cooler that may get indirect light, but we can set it at 50'. Thanks again! Liz
Live fully. Love life. Go play outside. It works for me!
I am determined to learn to make something other than queso blanco! Thanks!
Could you please post the recipe. I don't know what this is. But I bet it is made from out fresh cow milk...right? And I have plenty of that. Also hubby and I made 3 pounds of butter...but it don't have much taste to it.
Sandy, I have never used anything but regular cheese wax that I ordered from New England Cheese Supply. If the cheese had dried adequately, it can be dipped or brushed on, either. I wondered why a person couldn't use one of the vacume sealers to age the cheese in. It was explained to me that the cheese wax actually breaths, which creates the environment that ages the cheese successfully. Whereas, the plastic does not and therefore does not cause an aging. The wax is not necessary for all cheeses. The natural rind cheeses are great cheeses. They require more tending, with the turning and wiping off. You can develope a natural rind in the refrigerator if you use a container with a bowl of water in it to create the moisture level you need. Just laying the cheese in the refr. like I do for two days to dry it before waxing, won't work for developing a natural rind. The air is moving too much as the refr. runs and it dries it too fast and too deep for making a good rind.
Liz, The indirect light shouldn't be a problem. If you have any worries, just order the black or red wax.
Judy, New England Cheese Supply is a good place to order from on the internet, but there are others. The wax is pretty affordable (and, remember to save and re-use) The presses and molds are more expensive. I made my own molds from plastic pitchers from the dollar store. They must be absolutely straight sided - no taper. Then, I bought one mold and when it came my guys all said it was just PVC pipe and they could make me some for nothing. They made me some great molds out of eight and ten inch pipe that they drilled the holes in. We figured that, if it was safe for drinking water to run through, it should be ok to mold a cheese.
I'd be happy to take some pictures and post them. My guys made my presses, too. Just two identical pieces of wood and four dowells and put the weight on top. After experimenting with weights, I now use old bar bell weights stacked on top.
Some rennet, some cultures, and the wax is all you need to buy. The rest can easily be made.
This is my first press and also my first mold. I made the mold by holding a nail in a pair of pliers over the burner on the stove and melting the holes into it. When my boys made my new molds, they drilled the holes and made the molds in just a few minutes.
To answer the question about how much cheese that makes. On the average a gallon of milk yields one pound of cheese. Most of the recipes you will see, are for 2 gallons of milk. That's a nice size cheese.
I got in to making the 4 and 5 gallon cheeses because of the new, big molds that my boys made me. Most of the cheeses in that refr. picture are 2 pound cheeses. I was already out of room when I got the new molds and started another refr. in the basement just for them. I'll take a picture. They are really big.
I'm glad to see the interest in the cheesemaking. It is one of the most rewarding things you'll do. If you keep it simple, it's a quick way to deal with a lot of milk, real fast.
HS-2 Oh I want simple LOL I crave simple and try my best to keep my life that way. Other in my family would rather I be busy busy for them...LOL, Now I Want to say a very special thank you for all the typing, pic posting you did....you went out of your way to help us and to help us save money too. I can't wait to see the other pics Thank you Thank you Thank you
PS, My hubby is a carpenter and he can make my molds for me.
Wow, you sure are an inspiration ;D Thanks heaps for sharing your methods Homestead 2
The cultures I have are not in measured packets but loose. I bought some from a commercial cheesemaker in the next region. I've been put off trying another hard cheese due to the difficulty of getting the measurement of the culture correct. My first attempt was not successful, although a friend enjoyed it
Hopefully I'll have more free time to tinker with cheesemaking again over the coming winter.
Midge New Zealand Devoted Milkmaid of Ellie and Head Cow of 10 glorious small Jersey nurse-cows.
Homestead2, I am so jealous of your cheeses. Most of my hard cheese turned out to be very hard and salty, although I tried to follow instructions from the Internet. I will try again this summer. Do you have any suggestions on why my cheese turned out so hard and dry?
Homestead2, do you use more than one cheese press? I too want to take you for your wonderful sharing with us.
Shalali (rhymes with ukulele)- Farmer Sally Josephine Wilder ~ The Wonder Cow (mid-sized Mini-Jersey) American Guinea Hogs, Keeper of Bees in Top-Bar hives, Chickens, Barn cats, House cats, Guard dog, House dog, Husband & 2 Boys
Your cheese fridge is awesome! DH is a woodworker, so it's great to see how simply it can be done. Now the question you haven't answered yet (no one's asked): you mentioned all the various types of cheese you've made...from whence the recipes you use? Do you have a favorite book or source for your recipes? --Nadja
I started out with Ricky Carrol's book "Cheesemaking made Easy." and then, found lots of recipes on the internet. I drifted into the two reicipes that I have posted on this forum after a few years. Although I still make the regulars, I keep coming back to those two favorites.
And, to answer lindag about the dry salty cheeses. The only times that I experienced dry cheeses, I had cooked the curd too done in the double boiler situation that we traditionally make cheeses in.
I noticed when they were pressed, that very little whey came out, which meant that very little salt escaped in the whey either.
I find that it is easier to get away with an undercooked curd, than it is an overcooked curd. You can compensate by increasing the pressing weight on an undercooked.
A dry salty cheese is always salavage-able by using it to cook with. Crumbled on salads, shredded in a lasagna, ground fine and sprinkled on speghetti.
I've had lots of cheeses that started out to be one thing, but ended up being something entirely different.
Last Edit: Apr 29, 2006 11:21:44 GMT -5 by Deleted
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