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

Chipotle Smoked porter cheddar

My second cheddar of the day will be a standard cheddar soaked in a smoked porter from Stone brewing company. And then the curds will be rolled in chipotle peppers before pressing.  I thought about using hops for this cheese also but I let Danny the beer master of Broken Oak brewing convince me to use the peppers instead.  I have made many different peppered cheeses before but this will be the first one that also uses beer as a flavoring.  I am hoping that the smoked peppers mix well with the smoked porter.

Stone brewing's smoked porter
Stone brewing’s smoked porter
Chipotle peppers I had left over after the last Pepito Toscano that I made
Chipotle peppers I had left over after the last Pepito Toscano that I made
Very good consolidation of curds starting.
Very good consolidation of curds starting.


Cheddaring the cheddar

After looking over my cheese recipes I realized I had never made one for cheddar.  I am doing some additional things to both of the cheeses I am making today but I will add in the basic recipe and then put notes for the special cheeses down at the bottom of the page as links

  1. Heat three gallons of  milk to 86F.
  2. Then add 1 pack C-101 culture and let set for 45-60 min. This might seem like not enough but if you add more you can get a crumbly cheese from over acidification.
  3. Add 3/4 tsp of single strength rennet. Let set for 45 min at 86F.
  4. Cut curds to 1/4-3/8″
  5. Next stir while slowly raising heat over 30 min to 102F. Maintain at 102F and continue to stir for another 30 min more. Then allow the curds to settle under the whey for 20-30 min.
  6. Pour off whey and curds into a cloth lined colander. Place the colander and curds back into the empty pot and place the pot into a sink of 95-100F water to keep warm. Turn this curd mass at 15 min intervals for 2 hrs (at the 1 hr point cut the mass into 2″ slabs and stack on top each other). This is the CHEDDARING phase (cheddar is a process)
  7. Break or cut the cheddared curds into 1/2-3/4″ pieces
  8. Add  salt (use 2% of the  curd weight in salt in my case about 3 tablespoons ). Add the salt in 3 phases allowing the salt to dissolve between additions. Stir often enough to keep from matting and this salting should take 30 min.
  9. Place cheese curds in cloth lined mold and press at 10 lbs for 15 min unwrap cheese from cloth, turn over, and re-wrap placing back in mold
  10. Press at the schedule below and unwrap, turn cheese and re-wrap between stages
    1. 12 lbs. for 30 min.
    2. 20 lbs. for 1 hr.
    3. 50 lbs. for 4 hrs.
    4. 50 lbs. again for another 24 hrs.

11.  You may either Dry the cheese for 1-3 days and wax or vacuum seal. then age for 3-9 months depending on cheese moisture. The drier the cheese, the longer it can be aged. And the longer it ages the sharper the cheese gets.