Farm House Cheddar

From the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carol:

Farmhouse Cheddar

This recipe is a Cheddar shortcut. It's great to use when you want to have a Cheddar type cheese but save time in the process. Farmhouse cheddar can be dry and flaky, but is flavorful after only four weeks; therefore, it's a satisfying experience for your first hard cheese.

2 gallons whole milk
1 packet direct set mesophilic starter of four ounces prepared
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
1 Tablespoon Cheese salt

1. Heat the milk to 90 degrees. (If using goats milk, heat it to 85 degrees) Add the starter and stir thoroughly. Allow the milk to ripen for 45 minutes.

2. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with an up and down motion for one minute. (If you are using farm fresh cow's milk, top stir for one minute with the flat underside of the ladle no more than 1/2 inch deep to blend the butterfat that rises to the surface.) Cover and let set at 90 degrees (85 degrees for goat's milk) for 45 minutes until the curd gives a clean break.

3. Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes.

4. Place the pot in a sink full of hot water and slowly heat the curds to 100 degrees, increasing the temperature by no more than two degrees every five minutes. This will take about 30 minutes. Stir gently to keep the curds from matting. The curds will shrink noticeably in size as the heating continues and you stir gently. The yellowish whey will grow in quantity as the curds shrink.

5. Cover the container and let the curds set for five minutes. Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot and hang the bag in a convenient spot to drain for one hour. Do not hang in a drafty spot as the curds need to stay relatively warm.

6. Place the drained curds in a bowl and break them up gently with your fingers into walnut size pieces. Mix in the salt.

7. Firmly pack the curds into 2 pound mold lined with cheesecloth, then neatly fold the cheesecloth over the top. Apply ten pounds of pressure for ten minutes.

8. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re dress it, and press at 20 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.

9. Repeat the process but press at 50 pounds of pressure for twelve hours.

10. Remove the cheese from the mold and carefully peel away the cheesecloth. Air dry the cheese at room temperature on a wooden board until a nice rind has developed and the surface is quite dry. This can take 2-4 days depending on the weather. Turn the cheese several times a day so moisture will not collect on the bottom.

11. Wax the cheese.

12. Age the cheese for at least one month.

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