The blessing of having a family milk cow is that you have plenty milk on hand. Sometimes you feel you have too much milk, in fact. What do we do with the extra milk? We make Yogurt and Cheese. Today I will share with you a step by step process of how I make cheddar Cheese...
First, measure and pour your milk into a stainless stock pot. In this particular batch, I used 3 gallons of milk. Normally, I make about 6-8 gallons at a time but that is just crazy to try to teach how to handle that amount at one time. I poured 3 gallons of milk into the stock pot. DO NOT SKIM THE CREAM!
Heat the milk slowly to 88˚ F.
Once the milk is 88˚ F, add just a pinch of MA culture, you can buy this here...http://www.getculture.com/MA-11.html
Stir in thoroughly. I use a ladle and do the up and downward motion so that it evenly distribute the cream.
Leave this set, covered for 1 hour.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid rennet per gallon and mix that into 1/4 cup of cool water. Get your rennet here...http://www.getculture.com/DCI-Veal-rennet.html
Stir in the rennet mixture thoroughly in an up and downward motion for a minute or two to evenly distribute the cream. The temp is still at 88˚ F. Cover and let set for 1 hour.
After an hour the milk will have coagulated nice to a jello consistency. Simply get a long knife and cut the curd in a checkered board fashion. Let the cut curds sit for 5 minutes.
Begin heating the milk while stirring constantly. You do not want the curds to form a matted ball.
Turn the heat off when you reach 100˚F. Let set another 5 minutes at that temp.
Ladle the curds into a sieve. I like to use all the whey that drains off to feed the pigs or chickens. It is really good protein to help make them strong! Nothing goes to waste on our homestead!
Add 1 Tablespoon per gallon of milk used. I started with 3 gallons, so I used 3 Tablespoons of sea salt.
Massage the salt into the curds. You will notice a lot of whey being expelled and that is normal.
As you hold it up, you will notice a lot of whey dripping out of the bag which is great!
Next, I hang the bag over the stock pot so the whey can drain.
Cover the pot to keep the heat in. Leave dripping for a couple hours.
Remove from the bag.
Cut the cheese into slabs.
This is what it should look like...
To wick out the whey, I bandage each slab of cheese individually with paper toweling.
I layer the bandaged slabs into a flat container so that they are as level in two stacks as possible.
I set a stock pot on top of the slab stacks and then follow it with a heavy object to weigh it down. I use a mortar and pestle that is made of stone. It is about 5 pounds.
I set this in my refrigerator over night. This helps from the cheese getting to acidic. In warmer weather, you will grow more bacteria the longer it sits out in the heat. I learned that the hard way!
This cheese turns out semi-hard, but it so delicious fresh! I used to press in a really big heavy press, then wax and age. Well, we just can't wait for our cheese. We make about 6 pounds of cheese a week and believe me it gets used up. It grates well, melts well, and cuts really nice. The kids eat it fresh! It squeaks when you chew it and tastes like cheddar cheese curds. Lovely!
This is my newest method which is of course, a unique style of cheese making, unique to me! I have been making cheese for about 10 years now and through the years I have perfected the art of cheese making to what we like. We find we like a certain semi-hard texture coupled with a mild flavor. I do it this way because we like it better! You do what works for you.