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.
Wrapping a cheese in bandages is actually an easy process.
- 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.
- The next part is a bit messy so use some newspaper or tinfoil to put underneath your cheese.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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