Cheddar Cheese

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For Christmas, I gave Noel a cheesemaking kit from It took us a while to get around to it, but this week we went and bought two gallons of Strauss Family Creamery's non-homogenized whole milk from the Alameda Market, and today we started a batch of cheddar cheese.

You begin by heating the milk up to 90F over gentle heat.

Heating the milk

When it warms up, the butterfat melts and rises to the top. With homogenized milk -- the stuff you usually get at the grocery store -- this would not happen.

Then the milk gets a bacterial culture and goes to sit in a nice warm place (we put it in a warm oven) for about an hour. After it's cultured for a while, you add the rennet, which it the stuff that makes it into cheese. Another hour later curds have formed, but now you need to cut them into small chunks so you can squeeze out all the whey and have solid cheese.

Curded milk with butterfat

So you take a knife and slice it up into tiny pieces.

Cutting the cheese

To get the curds to firm up some more and separate from the whey, you heat the pot very slowly in a water bath. We used the sink and poured in hot water from a kettle. Stir it gently to spread the heat evenly.

Curds separating from whey

Then it's time to filter out the curds in a cheesecloth.

Separating curds from whey

They're quite wet with whey still.


So we hung them in the cheesecloth for an hour or so, letting the whey drip out into a pot. Maybe we can come up with some great use for whey.

Hanging the curds to drain

At this point it became obvious that almost everything we own eventually becomes a kitchen appliance or tool. For example, the 30-lb free weights.

Free weights as kitchen accessories

The curds come down from being hung still very wet.

Drained curds

At this point we broke them up, and added salt as a preservative (and for flavour).

Breaking up the curds and salting

Then they go into a cheesecloth-lined cheese mold to be pressed. We did this in the sink because it was very drippy. The pressing squeezes out even more whey.

First pressing

After 15 minutes, we took the cheese out (to adjust the cloth) and Noel posed with his future cheese.

A man and his cheese

Then it was back into the mold with more weight on top.

Back in the mold

It'll sit like this until tomorrow morning, when we will turn it over again, then until tomorrow night, when we will remove it from the mold and let it dry out on the counter for a few days, after which we can wax it and set it in the basement to cure.

Second pressing

It's a few months of waiting until we have cheese, but we are pretty excited.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ayse published on June 7, 2009 11:08 PM.

Strawberry Jam was the previous entry in this blog.

Cheddar Cheese: Unmolding is the next entry in this blog.

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