Prep Time: 3.5 hours
Pressing Time: 15 hours
Aging Time: 1-4 months
Makes 4 pounds
4 gallons of whole milk
1 cup thermophilic starter culture (or yogurt)
1 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
* Warm milk to 90 degrees. Stir in starter culture. Let sit 30 minutes to ripen.
* Add dissolved rennet to milk and stir gently for 15 seconds. Let the milk sit for 30-45 minutes until it is firm to the touch and a knife comes out clean when inserted.
* Whisk the curds using a wire whisk until the curds resemble pieces of rice.
* Keep curds at 90 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir often to keep them from matting together.
* Turn heat on low and slowly raise the temp of the curds to 120 degrees. Stir often. Hold at 120 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring often. Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pan, then drain into a cheesecloth lined colander.
* Line the cheese press mold with cheesecloth. Scoop the curds into the mold and place wooden follower on top, then fold over excess cheese cloth. Press at 10 pounds pressure for 30 minutes.
* Remove cheese from the press and unwrap it. Flip cheese over and repack by rewrapping in the same cheesecloth. Repacking and flipping cheese prevents it from sticking to the cheesecloth and allows some moisture to stay in the center of the cheese. Apply 20 pounds pressure for 30 minutes. Repack and apply 20 pounds pressure for 2 more hours. Finally, remove the cheese, repack and press again using 20 pounds pressure for 12 hours.
*Make brine solution by stirring 2 pounds of salt into 1 gallon of cool water. Stir well. Place the cheese in a glass, stainless or enamel container and immerse in the brine solution for 12 hours. You an place a dish on the cheese to keep it under the brine. Keep in a cool place during brining.
* Remove the cheese from the brine. Refrigerate salt brine in a labeled container and save for your next cheese. Let cheese air dry on a cheese mat for 2-4 days until a hard rind forms. Always cover cheese with muslin to keep flies from laying eggs on it. If you cover it with a towel your cheese won't dry sufficiently and will grow mold. If weather is humid, mold may grow anyway. to prevent this, place a fan blowing on the cheese for the first day. Wipe mold off with a cloth dampened in vinegar. Turn the cheese twice a day so that all sides are exposed to the air.
* When dry to the touch, wax cheese.
* Age to taste between 1 and 4 months.
Pepper Jack Variation
Boil 1/2 to 1 cup chopped red and green jalapenos in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain the water into the cold milk before you add the starter culture. Mix the peppers into the drained curds before putting them in the cheese press. You can substitute pickled jalapenos cut up. Don't add the brine to the milk though, as the vinegar will cause it to curdle.
Note: I did not brine this last batch. I mixed in 5-6 teaspoons of non-iodized salt into the curds before pressing.
I use plyban cheese cloth. It will not stick to the cheese and can be used over and over again.
Recipe taken from Cheese Making At Home: A Beginner's Guide to Making Soft and Hard Cheeses. Center for Esential Education P.O. Box 869 Elm Mott, Texas 76640 (254)754-9600