bandage wrapped Cheddar

Every Christmas I make a different long aging cheese for the following Christmas.  Last year it was a nice Romano cheese that came out delicious.  This year I went for a traditional bandage wrapped cheddar.

Nice wrapped cheese with a label on it so I don't forget what it is during the year
Nice wrapped cheese with a label on it so I don’t forget what it is during the year.

Wrapping a cheese in bandages is actually an easy process.

  1. You first need to cut three pieces of linen to the shape of your cheese.  two for top and bottom and a narrow strip for the edges.
  2. The next part is a bit messy so use some newspaper or tinfoil to put underneath your cheese.
  3. Next you will need some type of rendered fat to coat the cheese and soak the bandages in.  From what I have seen from reading around is that the most common used fats are lard, tallow, and bacon fat.  A cheese aged in bacon fat sounds tasty but I would worry about any nitrates in the bacon inhibiting the mold growth on the aging.  I have also read that people are starting to use coconut oil as the fat used.  I might have to try that at some point to see if there is a flavor difference.  For this cheese I used lard to coat it.
  4. Slowly melt down the fat you are using until it is liquid.  If you have it in a jar you can soak it in a hot water bath to melt it down.
  5. use your hands and rub a thin layer of fat over the entire cheese.  Then dip the bandages in the fat and squeeze out the extra.
  6. Next smooth the cloth over the cheese.  It is best to do the top and bottom pieces and then do the bandage over the sides.  You want to make sure the cloth adheres and there is no air underneath the cloth.
  7. You can put the top and bottom on the cheese and put it back into the cheese mold and press the cloth into the cheese if you would like.  I tried this and had a had time getting the cheese back out after the lard cooled and started hardening.
  8. After the bandaging is done you can put a printed address label with data and type of cheese on the bandage.  A thin coating of lard over the top will keep it in place.
  9. Now into the fridge and flip daily for 2-3 weeks.  At that point mold should start appearing on the bandage.  Then you can switch to flipping 2-3 times a week.
  10. Pat or brush down the mold to keep it from getting out of control.  The mold will grow and feed off of the fat on the bandages instead of on the cheese.
  11. After a few months as the cheese dries out the mold should die back and you will have a nice marbled looking bandage that you can age for a year or longer.

As the cheese molds out more I will add some moldy cheese pictures to the blog

Something New, Something Blue

My last attempt at a blue cheese did not turn out blue at all (blue Gouda) So now I am going to try for a Blue Caerphilly. I think I have done more experimental cheeses using Caerphilly then any other type of cheese.  It lends itself to blending well with flavors and it ages quickly.  In other words I don’t have to wait a year to eat it to see how the experiment goes.  I am going to use a different variation then my normal Caerphilly recipe.  This one will be from Gavin Webber’s book “Keep calm and make cheese”  This is a great book for the beginning cheese maker.  Gavin also has a cheese blog that has good tips and different cheese making variation.  There are only a few differences in the Caerphilly recipe.  The cook temperature for the curds is at 92F instead of 95F and the cheese is salted instead of brined.  I have used this recipe before to great success.  It will be less salty than the brined variety and have a sharper taste at the end of the aging time.  On one of his blogs he had half a wheel of Caerphilly that was infected by blue by accident and had it change to a great flavor so I am going to try that intentionally on mine.

Penicillium roqueforti package.  It is really hard to find single use packages of this around here.
Penicillium roqueforti package. It is really hard to find single use packages of this around here.

Penicillium roqueforti was added at the same time as the culture.  I am not sure if this is a good time to add but it sounded good.

even after some mixing there is still a little of the blue mold showing on the surface of the curd before I cut it
even after some mixing there is still a little of the blue mold showing on the surface of the curd before I cut it.
Nice curd formation
Nice curd formation.
Sliced and ready to turn to drain more.
Sliced and ready to turn to drain more.
and the cheese is created.  Drying for a couple days and then into the newly created moldy cheese fridge.  (my little wine fridge)
and the cheese is created. Drying for a couple of days and then into the newly created moldy cheese fridge. (my little wine fridge)

Cheese that is not for the faint of heart

This cheese is for a special request for a friend.  Pepper jack made using ghost peppers and Habanero infused salt.  This cheese may need to have a warning on the package when opening.  What is a ghost pepper you ask?  for several years this pepper was rated as the hottest pepper in the world.  It is rated as 400 times hotter the Tabasco sauce.  I have a package of dried ones to use for this cheese.  Only 2 peppers will be used.  I like how the package warns that you need to use gloves to touch the peppers and prepare them.  The is no chance that i would ever make this without gloves.  I have sliced up spicy peppers without gloves before then rubbed my eyes, ugh it was not an experience I ever want to repeat.

Ghost peppers are grown in Inda.  They are a hybrid variety of pepper.
Ghost peppers are grown in India. They are a hybrid variety of pepper.
Two and only two peppers for the mix.  I could smell the spice as soon as I took them from the bag
Two and only two peppers for the mix. I could smell the spice as soon as I took them from the bag.
Doesn't seem like a lot of peppers for the entire 4 lb wheel of cheese.
Doesn’t seem like a lot of peppers for the entire 4 lb wheel of cheese.

Cheese curds were a little spicy when I put them into the mold to press, but not to bad.  As it ages I am sure the heat will migrate out  into the cheese.

Only a few specs of the ground peppers showing on the surface.  Not much showing for the amount of heat these little peppers have
Only a few specs of the ground peppers showing on the surface. Not much showing for the amount of heat these little peppers have.

And for comparison a chipotle jack that I made at the same time as the ghost pepper one.
And for comparison a chipotle jack that I made at the same time as the ghost pepper one.