My first attempt at making Cantal cheese

This is a cheese I have wanted to make for a while now but didn’t have the multiple days free to be able to make it.  Every book I have looked at has a different recipe version so I am going to do one with the recipe from Ricki Carroll’s website.  It is a not as detailed of a recipe as I would like so we will see how this one goes.  I have added to it what I can from the other recipe I have for it. Hopefully the draining and pressing additions will bring the cheese together into a delicious morsel for next Christmas.  Yes I am really going to let this one age an entire year.  It will be hard to resist eating it.  Before we start on the creation, a little background on what Cantal cheese really is.

Cantal AOC is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating to the times of the Gaul’s rule. It received an Appellation d’Origine (AOC) status from the administrative region of Cantal in the Auvergne region in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.There are three types of Cantal cheese, grouped according to age and texture. Cantal jeune, a young cheese is aged at 30 to 60 days during when it develops a thin gray-ivory crust and a smooth, pale yellow, close-textured paste. It is fresh, sweet, milky in flavor with a light hint of hazelnut, and vanilla. Cantal Entre-deux, an aged Cantal has the flavors of the green pastures and aromas of butter and cream. From 3 months of ripening, Cantal cheese starts to come into its own. A well-aged Cantal Vieux has a thick crust and is a cheese connoisseur’s delight. Due to the lengthy ripening period, the cheese has become more strongly flavored and is a typical hard cheese with a firm, brittle and crumbly paste. The 8-month stay inside the cellars let Cantal develop a peppery and spicy aroma. The cheese is additionally grouped as “fremier” and “laitier”, wherein fermier is a farmhouse cheese made of raw milk while laitier is the commercial, mass-produced version from pasteurized milk. Cantal works well with nuts, grapes and apples as well can be used in salads, soups, cheese fondue or gratins. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are a few wines that pair nicely with Cantal.

Now on to our steps and ingredients on how to make this cheese


  • 3 gallons whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp calcium chloride
  • 2 cubes frozen mesophillic culture
  • 3/4 tablet of microbial rennet

Cheese making steps:

  1. Heat up milk to 90F and add mesophillic culture.  Let ripen for 30 minutes
  2. After 30 minutes add your rennet and let sit for 60 minutes to coagulate
  3. once you get a clean break in the curd cut into 1/2″ sized curds and stir for 20-30 minutes after you finish stirring allow the curds to settle
  4. Drain the whey down to within 1-2″ above the curd. Then place a plate over the curd and add 20-25lbs of weight on top of the plate (keep it around 90F while doing this)
  5. Leave the weight on for 30 minutes and then drain the curds and wrap them in cloth
  6. Move the cloth wrapped cheese to a draining spot and reapply the weight.
  7. At 30 min intervals the curd is unwrapped and cut into 2″ strips and turned over .. re-wrapped in cloth and the weight reapplied … this cycle is repeated 3-6 times w/ increasing weight to get a cheese of appropriate dryness. I did six flips on this cheese.  I noticed if I broke up the cheese into big chunks and then pressed it I got a better drain then if I just sliced it and let it drain. This step reminds me a lot of cheddaring but for a much longer period of time and with weights.

    First pressing while in the draining colander.  I had to use my daughters spoons to get it to drain correctly
    First pressing while in the draining colander. I had to use my daughters spoons and forks to get it to drain correctly
  8. The curd should be kept at 80F-90F during this period. I am setting the draining pan on top of a heating pad to keep it warm during the draining.
  9. The curd mass then is broken in to 3-4 inch blocks and left to ripen overnight.

    Curds sliced and turned for more pressing and draining
    Curds sliced and turned for more pressing and draining
  10. The curd mass is then broken into small pieces as per cheddar (3/4-1 or walnut size as I like to call it)
  11. Salt the Cheese at 1.8-2.5% by weight. Close to 3 tablespoons will be what you need.

    Curds milled and salted curds.  They were very dry at this point so it looks promising for the dryness I need them to be for this cheese
    Curds milled and salted curds. They were very dry at this point so it looks promising for the dryness I need them to be for this cheese
  12. The curd can now goes into a cloth lined mold and weight added 25 lbs at first. This is where the details are a bit vague as the instructions call for turning it 3-5 times and increasing the weight to a final press weight of 250-300 lbs.  So I will set it for 25 for 20 minutes, 50 for 40 minutes, 100 for 2 hours, 200 for 12 hours, and 300 for 24 hours.  This makes me glad I have a dutch press that can handle that much pressure.  I have used this much for cheddar before.  It creaks a lot though with that much pressure on it.
  13. Allow to ripen for 3- 9 months at 54F and 80-85% RH%.  This cheese can be aged longer if you can wait.  I make a cheese every December and then open it up the following year for Christmas. This will be next years Christmas cheese so it will be aged a little over 12 months.
  14. The cheese is supposed to ripen and form a natural rind with a gray mold forming.  Just wipe with a brine mix until the mold forms a nice gray covering and drys out.
Into the aging fridge two days after pressing.  Now for the mold to start growing
Into the aging fridge two days after pressing. Now for the mold to start growing

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.


Nikki’s spicy cheese the results

After one month of age it is time to taste Nikki’s nuclear spiced cheese.

Mutant cheese after one month of aging
Mutant cheese after one month of aging

For appearance I would consider this my ugliest cheese to date.  The curds knitted together better than I expected them to considering how crumbly feeling it felt going into a vacuum bag.  (had to bag it because of the crumble)  The cheese has a great odor right out of the bag.  Smells of a good jack cheese with only a hint of spice to the smell.

Creamy white with little specs of peppers throughout
Creamy white with little specs of peppers throughout

Very soft when cutting with some of it sticking to the knife as I cut into it.  Not the best knit to the curds due to the soak in tapatio.  I think a different sauce with no vinegar/acetic acid in it would have made for a better knit.  I had a request for ghost pepper jack.  might have to try that.

a piece cut for the taste
a piece cut for the taste

And now for the taste test.  I need a drum roll before the taste.  You can tell from the slice how crumbly the cheese still is.  The first bite gives the cool taste of a good moist jack cheese.  Then after 5 seconds you get hit with the OMG what did I just put in my mouth!!!  I have never had any pepper jack that has such a long delay from the time you bite into. To when the heat hits your tongue.  It has a great flavor but the heat is almost too much.  I like it, but the wife took one bite and glared at me because I didn’t tell her it was that spicy.  I like to surprise her some days.  Half of the wheel went back into the cheese fridge to age for a couple more months.  The other half will be used at the baby shower next week.  Over all it was a successful yet ugly cheese