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

Nikki’s spicy jack experiment

This cheese is a special experimental cheese request by my sister the pepper jack addict.  Her thought is that since pepper jack is delicious then making a jack and marinating it in hot sauce would be even better.  I am not sure how well it will work but it is worth a try just to see.  And if it doesn’t meld together in the press then I will just have to eat the curds as is.  So really even if it doesn’t work it is still edible and delicious.  A win-win cheese making experiment. My favorite kind of thing to try.

This will be the standard Monterey jack recipe with a couple slight differences.  Alright more than slight changes.  I expect if it melds together and ages that it will be a lot drier then the normal pepper jack.  After the drain of the whey down to the level of the curds I added a bottle of hots sauce to it and let it sit for the remaining 30 minutes.

one 10oz bottle of Nikki's favorite hot sauce
one 10 oz bottle of Nikki’s favorite hot sauce
curds in their bath of hot sauce.  Almost looks like a tomato soup
curds in their bath of hot sauce. Almost looks like a tomato soup

With the pressing I had to really bump up the weight.  After the first press and flip I didn’t have any knit at all.  Almost spilled the entire batch on the floor since I wasnt expecting it.  I bumped up the weight to the same as a cheddar to get the curds to knit together.  Only other issue was that the cheese was sticking really bad to the cloth. After taking it out of the press it still peeled a lot of the curds onto the cloth.  This will probably be the only experiment of this kind I do.  It is an ugly-looking cheese (not even going to take a pic of it) But we will see in a month at my wifes baby shower if it develops any good flavor other than spice

Colby a true American cheese

Salted curd colby.  Notice all the small eyeholes in the cheese
Salted curd colby. Notice all the small eyeholes in the cheese

One of the only cheeses ever created in the united states is the wonderful Colby cheese.  Unfortunately what you buy in the store is not a true Colby.  Store bought Colby is closer to the taste and flavor of a young cheddar. I found two different recipes that the only difference was that in one the curds were salted, then pressed, and another where the curds are pressed and then brined.  For this first attempt at Colby I will try the salt added to the curds.  Next time I will make it and brine it.  I will add both instructions to the page for anyone who would like to try either recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tsp. Calcium Chloride Liquid (30%) Dissolved in 2 Tbsp. distilled water (if using store-bought milk)
  • 3 ounces prepared Mesophilic Culture.
  • Annetto as per instructions on variety
  • 3/4 Rennet Tablets (microbial) Dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 3 gallon Whole Milk Cow

Cheese making steps:

  1. Add your calcium chloride to your milk. Then gently stir the milk and heat to 86° F.
  2. Remove pot from heat. Sprinkle culture or frozen cube over milk surface and let hydrate for 1 or 2 minutes. Gently and thoroughly stir culture into milk. Let sit for 60 minutes
  3. Add rennet and mix it into milk with an up and down motion for about 1 minute. Let sit for 30-40 minutes for curd to develop.
  4. After you get a clean break cut curd into 3/8 inch pieces. It is okay if they are not perfect cubes. Let the curds heal for 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly heat your curd to 102°F over 30 minutes. Do not let it heat but more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Gently stir every five minutes during the 30 minutes.
  6. Next cover the pot and let the curds set for five minutes.
  7. Pour off the whey until it is level with the curd mass. Stir in cold tap water until the temperature in the cheese pot is lowered to 80°F. Hold the temperature at 80°F for 15 minutes while gently stirring to keep the curd from matting. The temperature of the cheese pot during this step will determine the moisture content of the finished cheese. A slightly higher temperature will produce a drier cheese. Lowering the temperature a few degrees will make a moister cheese.

Draining / Pressing time:

  1. Drain your curds into a cloth line colander taking care to not spill as it fills.  Allow to drain then mix in 3 tablespoons of salt into your curds (if brining please go to the next section on brining and skip adding salt at this point)
  2. Fill you cloth lined cheese mold and put the follower on your mold and press with 20 lbs. for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the cheese and re-wrap and press at 30 lbs. for 20 minutes
  4. Turn and re-wrap one more time and press at 50 lbs for 12 hours

Brining/salting/aging time:

  1. If you are brining the Colby add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 8 hours flipping once.   Keep your brining cheese in the fridge. 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.
  2. After pressing and or brining place the salted cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1-3 days. Cover with a clean cheesecloth. Turn the cheese over twice each day. When it starts to form a darker yellowish rind and is dry to the touch, it is ready to wax for storage.
  3. Age at 55° to 60°F (55°F is ideal) for 4-6 weeks.  This cheese is supposed to be eaten with little to no aging.  Any longer then 6 weeks and it will get hard and crumbly.

Update:  my cheese with salt added to the curds has flattened out a bit as it air-dried but still looks tasty.  It reminds me more of an inner tube then a wheel now.

A little history on how Colby was made from the New England cheesemaking website:

Colby cheese was invented in Wisconsin by Joseph F. Steinwand in 1885. It was named for the township in which his father, Ambrose Steinwand, Sr., had built the first cheese factory in Clark County three years before.

“At his father’s cheese factory about one mile south and one mile west of here, Joseph F. Steinwand in 1885 developed a new and unique type of cheese. He named it for the township in which his father, Ambrose Steinwand Sr., had built northern Clark County’s first cheese factory three years before.”

Ambrose and Susan Steinwand and their children moved to Colby in 1875. They bought a quarter-section of railroad land in Colby township and in 1882 built a cheese factory, a small wood building that produced 125 pounds of cheese a day.
Their eldest son, Joseph, assisted his father in the factory from age 16, quickly learning the cheese making process. Joe Steinwand was inquisitive, and when his father sent him to a cheese making course in Madison, he began to experiment in the Colby factory.
He made minor changes in the cheese process, but these were enough to create a cheese both milder and moister than cheddar. The new cheese was named “Colby” and became almost instantly popular.

Ricotta from your leftover whey

My little 1 cup of Ricotta
My little 1 cup of Ricotta

Since I am making a mass amount of cheese today (well a mass amount for me anyway) I thought I would use all the leftover whey from the cheese and make some ricotta from it.  Since you have already curded and used up most of the proteins from your milk you do not get very much Ricotta from your whey.  The usual yield is only 1-2 cups from a two gallon batch of cheese.  But since I am making 6 gallon total I should get 4-6 cups from it total.  Not a lot but I can use it to make Lasagna one of these days

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 gallons of whey
  • 1/4 cup vinegar per 2 gallons of whey
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat your whey to 200°F, or a low boil. Then add in your vinegar
  2. Stir and let the curds come together for five minutes or so, then drain the pot into your cloth-lined colander.
  3.  The bulk of the whey should drain out within the first 5 minutes, and you will have a nice layer of ricotta left.  Which you can eat or use in your favorite recipe

It is not a very difficult cheese to make.  Luckily you can freeze ricotta so you can save it up until you have enough for whatever recipe you have.

Gouda the great

Gouda belongs to a group of cheeses called washed curd cheeses.  Since these are the cheeses that I have made the least of I decided I need to spend some time practicing on washed curd cheeses for the next month or so.  I have gotten very good at the cheddars.  Of course I should try to do some smoked cheeses and other varieties.  Such as a washed curd cheese that is washed in beer instead of water.  Sounds interesting and tasty

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 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 your 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 10 minutes.  To keep the heat in, you can cover the pot 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 60 minutes. If you don’t get a clean break after 60 minutes let it sit and check every 15 minutes for it. I have had a few batches I made with generic milk that took almost two hours to set up.
  5. Once your curd show a clean break cut into 1/2 inch cubes and then let sit for 10 minutes for the cut curds to rest and firm up
  6. Drain off one-third of the whey from your curds and add just enough water that is at 175 degrees to bring your curds up to 94-95 degrees. Keep stirring slowly the entire time. Then let settle for another 10 minutes
  7. Drain off the whey down to the level of the curds and add more 175 degree water until it hits 100 degrees this time.  Keep it at 100 degrees for 20 minutes stirring every few minutes to keep the curds from matting
  8. Now you can drain off the whey and separate out your curds.  Pour the mix into a cloth lined colander and allow draining for five minutes.  Drain in a covered pot if possible to keep the curds close to temperature.
  9. Line a 2 pound mold with cheese cloth and scoop your curds into it. (your mold and liner should be ready before you finish heating your curds.  Cap and press with 20 pounds for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the cheese from the mold re-wrap and flip then press at 40 pounds for 20 minutes
  11. Re-wrap and flip and press at 50 pounds for 12 hours
  12. Add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 12 hours flipping once.   Keep your brining cheese in the fridge. 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.  Then move it to your cheese fridge and allow it to form a rind while it ages. Turn it over frequently and check for mold often.  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. It makes it easier to keep the temp at the right spot.
  14. Continue to let it age unwaxed in your cheese fridge for another 3-4 weeks then wax or vacuum seal.  The purists will wax but those of us who don’t have the time to wax just seal the cheese in a vacuum bag and flip several times a week.

History of Gouda cheese:

Gouda cheese comes from Holland. It is named for the Dutch city of Gouda in the province of Zuid-Holland. In spite of that, the Gouda cheese with the highest regard comes from Noord-Holland. Gouda cheese is now a generic cheese describing the type and flavor of the cheese rather than its place of origin. The term “Gouda cheese” is registered in the European Union. The type of cheese it describes is yellowish and made from pasteurized cow’s milk.

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.