Thursday, April 04, 2013

Making cheese again

I had just enough success with my earlier cheese-making adventures to make me want to go a little further.  Reading on the Internet, I found that the Junket brand of rennet I was buying in the store left a lot to be desired.  Now, I was skeptical, because I was getting this information from people who were selling the proper kind of rennet.  But after less-than-perfect results more than once... wait, I never had perfect results: I ended up with something like cheddar cheese twice, and the rest of the time I ended up with a hard cheese that was very good for grating over salads.  None of it went to waste, but I wanted some predictable results.  I ordered a few things at and set them aside to wait for the day I would try my luck with them.  
Today was the day.  Setting the curd was much easier today, since I didn't have to buy buttermilk to help it work and I didn't have to let it set overnight; only thirty minutes.  Also, before I had to slowly heat the milk and stir and check temperature over and over and hope I didn't get it too hot (which I can now see that I did, and that's how I ended up with hard cheese instead of cheddar).  
Today I cut the curd when it was ready and, instead of heating it on the stove, I set it in a sink full of hot water for a half hour and stirred it often.  

When the half-hour was up, I left it alone for five minutes so the curds could sink to the bottom.  

Then I drained off the whey.  I was supposed to tie it up and hang it somewhere for an hour, and Cliff helped me rig that up.

He got an old rusty wire, attached it to the cheesecloth bundle, and hooked the other end of the wire over the button that turns the light in my range hood on.  Genius!

This is how it looked coming out of the cheesecloth.  

I had to break it up in walnut-sized pieces and add a tablespoon of non-iodized salt, mixing it in well.
Then it was time to pack it into the mold and apply ten pounds of weight on it.  I was stumped, so once again I asked Cliff what I could use for weight, and how I could get it to stay on the cheese in the mold.  "What about those dumbbells nobody uses," he asked.  "That would be ten pounds."  

The man's a genius, I tell you!  Actually, I decided that was very precarious, so I sat the cheese mold (AKA PVC pipe) inside that tall pan later, just in case.  This step was only for fifteen minutes.  And then a real problem presented itself:  Increase the weight to twenty pounds and leave it for twelve hours!  Once again, Cliff to the rescue:

Genius!  Give Cliff a little baling wire and he can fix anything!  He wired this to the handles, so it seems to be very stable.  
I'm sure I could do an online search and find some ideas on how to make a cheese press.  I could buy them from New England Cheesemaking, but it would cost $150 to $300.  Before I invest that much, I want to know I can make some decent cheese.  


Adirondackcountrygal said...

I can't wait to see how it turns out!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I too will be waiting to see the results. Necessity is the mother of invention they this case Cliff is the father of it I'd say.

Melissa Wiggins said...

What an interesting post. I had no idea how cheese was made at home. Thanks for sharing.

Lori said...

Let me know when it's ready. I'll have the wine chilled!!


My mouth is watering just thinking about the finished product.

Back Porch Writer said...

You amaze me at your adventures! Way to go Cliff for his ideas!
Wish I could taste some of the cheese!

Ms Martyr said...

I haven't heard of Junket in probably over 50 years. My mom used to make it for us when we had upset stomachs since it is so mild. I didn't know it was still available. Now I'll have to check my grocery's shelves.

Can't wait to hear how this batch of cheese turns out.

krueth said...

I also am just anxiously waiting to hear how it turned out. It looks GREAT when it came out of the cheesecloth so it has to taste wonderful too. Great job Cliff did rigging up your weights for you :-) Wendy