Making Caerphilly cheese with a spicy twist

One of my favorite cheeses to make is Caerphilly.  Super quick aging compared to making cheddar but with the sharpness you get out of aged cheddar.  This is a different type of recipe then you will see on most other sites.  This is more of a mix of pepper jack crossed with cheddar.


  • 2 gallons whole milk (in the Willamette valley the best kind is from Lochmead farms aka Dari-mart)
  • 1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/2 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 2 dried peppers (whatever variety you prefer for spiciness)
  • non-iodized salt for brining

If you do not have a local brew store that has cheese supplies you can get them online at the New England Cheesemaking supply company  They also have a good selection of other cheese making recipes and kits that you can buy.

Steps to make you cheese

  1. Gradually heat your milk to 90 degrees in a double boiler or a water bath.  If you set it directly on a stove top you risk the chance of heating it unevenly and scorching the bottom.
  2. Once the milk is to temperature sprinkle the Mesophilic starter over the top of the milk.  Let it re-hydrate for 5 minutes before you stir.  Then stir for several minutes.  Cover and let sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.  To keep the heat in you can cover with a kitchen towel while you wait.  The starter will multiply and divide and acidify the milk slightly during this stage
  3. Add in your calcium chloride.  Since we are using store-bought milk this will allow the curds to form.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh un-pasteurized milk you do not need to add any.
  4. Make sure you milk is still near 90 degrees.  If not heat it for a short time to bring the temp back up.  Now add your rennet to the milk and stir in an up and down motion.  No making whirlpools in the milk.  Then let sit and let the curd form for 45 minutes.
  5. Once your curd show a clean break cut into ½ inch cubes.  A clean break means that the curds will hold their shape after you cut them.  If you do not know what this looks like there are several videos on youtube that give a great guide to telling you when they are at the right spot.  As with most things the more you do it the better you will be at seeing the correct curd formation. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. After you have cut the curds slowly heat the curds up to 95 degrees.  This needs to be done slowly over 30 minutes.  Stir the curds gently every couple of minutes to prevent them from sticking together.
  7. When you hit 95 degrees turn off the heat and keep at this temp for 45 minutes.  Stir every 5 minutes or so.
  8. Now you can drain off the whey and separate out your curds.  I use a cloth lined colander to get as much whey out as I can.  There is no reason to pour the whey down the drain.  Whey can be used in place of buttermilk in any recipe, or you can feed it to acid loving plants like blueberries and roses. And my favorite use.  Feeding it as a treat to my puppy.
  9. Mix your crushed dried peppers into the curds at this point.
  10. Line a 2 pound mold with cheese cloth and scoop your curds into it.  Cap and press with 10 pounds for 30 minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  11. Remove the cheese from the mold re-wrap and flip then press at 15 pounds over night or for 12 hours

    Final pressing
    Final pressing
  12. Add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 24 hours flipping once.   The standard cheese brine is 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water.  You can also use the whey to make your brine.  It will give a slightly different flavor then using just water.  I prefer to use the whey mostly because I hate wasting any part of the milk.
  13. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.  Then place on your drying mat and let it dry for 2-3 days or until it is dry to the touch.  At this point you can wax it or allow it to form a rind while it ages.  You will need to age it for 3 weeks at 50-55 degrees keeping it around 90% humidity.  If you see any mold form on the outside of your cheese just take a cloth and dip in vinegar and wipe it off.  The molds that grow on cheese are easily killed and won’t harm you even if you eat them.  For all of my cheese aging I use a wine fridge with the rack pulled out. I makes it easier to keep the temp at the right spot.

    A nice looking final smoked Caerphilly.  now to let it age another 2 weeks
    A nice looking final smoked Caerphilly. now to let it age another 2 weeks

History of Caerphilly cheese:

Caerphilly is a hard, white cheese that originates in the area around the town of Caerphilly in Wales, although it is now also made in England, particularly in the South West and on the English border with Wales. It was not originally made in Caerphilly, but was sold at the market there, hence taking the town’s name.

Caerphilly is a light-colored (almost white), crumbly cheese made from cow’s milk, and generally has a fat content of around 48%. It has a mild taste, with its most noticeable feature being a not unpleasant slightly sour tang.

It is rumored that the cheese was developed over time to provide the coal miners of the area with a convenient way of replenishing the salt lost through hard work over ten hour shifts underground and so was a staple of the diet of the coal-miners.

Real Farmhouse Caerphilly production died out during World War II as all milk had to go to the Cheddar factories to help the war effort.[1] After the war these factories started making their version of Caerphilly (initially to help their cash flow as Caerphilly matures quicker than Cheddar), which is how it is mostly known today, dry and crumbly. However, there are now two or three farms making original Caerphilly which is dry in the middle and creamy around the edges.

The town of Caerphilly holds a three day festival annually to celebrate the cheese entitled The Big Cheese (Welsh: Y Caws Mawr). Also in Caerphilly, there is a sculpture of a cheese.


3 thoughts on “Making Caerphilly cheese with a spicy twist

  1. That is a nice looking Caerphilly, I have made several and never tire of them. I have tried adding Habeneros to mine once, I found the heat just right, but kind of tired of them after a while. Well done.


  2. Pingback: Stout Caerphilly aka beerphilly | Shane's outdoor fun

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