We’ve gone over the concept, the science, some basic practices. And now, with no further delay, we are going to make cheese.
So strap yourself in. It’s going to be a wild ride.
We could show you how to make some easy cheeses, like kefir or cream cheese, but we’re not going to do that because we know what you want. You want cheddar. We want cheddar. Everybody wants cheddar.
Let’s make some cheddar, following a recipe by the wonderful CulturesForHealth.com.
What You Do
Dump two gallons of whole non-UHT milk — remember what we told you about milk? — into your big pot and gently warm it to 85 degrees. While this is happening, dilute 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride in 1/4 cup of water, then toss it in the milk. When the milk reaches 85 degrees, add a packet of direct-set mesophilic culture (or 1/8 teaspoon bulk mesophilic culture). Stir it with an up-and-down motion, cover it, and leave it alone for an hour so the milk and the calcium chloride and the culture can get to know each other. Assuredly, they will hit it off, and after an hour you’ll have fermented milk.
Dilute 1/2 teaspoon animal rennet into 1/2 cup cold water, and slowly work it into the milk using that same up-and-down motion (Note: You can also use vegetable rennet or double-strength liquid rennet, but you’ll use half as much). Be pretty thorough about this. The more completely the rennet gets mixed into the milk, the more cheese you’ll end up with at the end.
Now, leave it alone for another hour. During this time, the clear whey will separate itself from the curd, and the curd will be separating itself from the sides of your pot.
Ok, are you all good? Is the whey separated? Are the curds not sticking to the pot? Has it been an hour? Cool, you’ve done the easy part. The hard part is not hard, per se, but it’s a little more involved.
Let’s do the hard part.
Grab that knife, and cut the curds into little cubes. We’ll say, oh, 1/4 inch on each side. But don’t stir it up or do anything else just yet. Just let them sit for about five minutes. And now we’re going to test your patience a little. Slowly, slowly, slowly … heat the curds to 100 degrees. And, we’re sorry to do this to you, but you’re going to have to stir those curds for a half hour. There’s no way around it. Keep the temperature at 100 degrees, and stir the curds for 30 minutes. You’ll see them slowly shrinking as more and more whey separates.
Leave the curds alone AGAIN. This gives them time to settle to the bottom of the pot. After 20 minutes of this, drain them into a colander, and put the colander in the pot, and let all the whey drain out for about 15 more minutes, or until what you have left is a big lump of curds that looks kind of like jelly. Discard the whey, cut the jelly-like mass into five pieces and put those five pieces, yes, back into the pot. Cover the pot.
So it gets a little weird, here. Fill your very clean sink or some other basin-like thing with 102-degree water, and place the pot containing the curds into that water. Keep the temperature of the curds at 100 degrees for two hours — yes, two stinking hours — while you turn them over every 15 minutes. (We told you this was going to be involved).
After two hours, the curds will have developed a pleasing shine. Take them out of the pot and cut them up into 1/2-inch cubes, and put them back into the pot and the 102-degree water. After 10 minutes, stir the curds lightly with your fingers. Do it again after another 10 minutes. After another 10 minutes, do it a third time. Add two tablespoons of sea salt. You are getting very, very close to having cheddar cheese now. Can you feel it? Good.
It’s time to press the cheese.
Pull out that cheese press, and line it with cheese cloth. Place the curds in there, wrap the cloth around the top of the curds, and set the press at 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
Unwrap it, flip it, re-wrap with new cheese cloth, and set the press at 40 pounds for 12 hours.
Do that all again, and set the press at 50 pounds for 24 hours.
Pull the cheese out of the press and let it air dry until it’s smooth and dry, the way cheese is when you buy it. This will take two or three days.
Now, wax it, and age it at 55 degrees for 60 days.
Boom. Done. You now have home-made, artisinal cheddar cheese. Enjoy .