Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cheddar cheese

I couldn't resist and had to try out my new Mad Millie Hard Chess Press over the long weekend.  I decided to try the cheddar recipe.  It felt very satisfying - very proper cheesemaking.  My only problem with the instructions given for the recipe were that there are very few explanations for why you had to follow certain processes.  For example, once at the curd stage you have to heat the water slowly over thirty minutes to reach a certain temperature.  I would have found it useful to learn that the reason you do it slowly is that if you do it too quickly you can overheat the curds.  I did, but I think it was OK.  I'll see in a couple of months!

Unlike soft cheeses you really need to be at home most of a day, or at least all afternoon and evening to make this as there are lots of little steps that need to happen every 45mins or so.

 It takes four litres of silver top to make a cheese about the size of a small bread plate.  I can't work out why it is cheaper to buy four small bottles than two large ones.  But so far I've learnt that it always saves twenty cents.  I am though running out of things to do with the plastic containers!
 Draining the curds.
 The curds after being crumbled up and salted.
The cheese press in action.  It took a little while to work it out (the instructions seem to be designed for someone who is familiar with cheese presses - I needed more of an idiot's guide)!  There is an internal scale to let you know how much pressure you are placing on the cheese.  Once I worked it out it was straightforward and rather fun.  The press did sometimes 'unwind' a touch and had to be readjusted to the correct pressure.  I can't work out if this is a common problem, a problem specific to this brand of press or this particular one.  I still had an awesome time using it.  My four year old also thought it was fun turning the mechanism to the correct pressure.
The cheese once pressing was finished the following morning.  As I type it is two days later and I am waiting for the natural rind to develop before I can wax it.  I am so, so looking forward to waxing it and then storing it in the cheese cellar (garage) for a couple of months!


  1. Looks very very exciting! I am inspired. I might have to consider this project. Would you recommend cutting my teeth on soft cheeses first?


  2. I think that the soft cheeses are a good start. They are quicker and less involved and it is good to learn some of the techniques before needing to use them for the hard cheeses. Also, to make the hard cheeses you do need a lot of stuff! I already had this stuff from making the earlier cheeses.

    A fairly big issue for the hard cheeses is having a suitable temperature location in which to store them. You need somewhere that is fairly constantly about 12/13C. A lot of people use spare 'beer fridges.'

    If you make camembert or hard cheeses now they will be ready for Christmas!

    In order of difficulty:

    (easiest to more challenging)
    Ricotta and Marscapone (only need milk, heat and citric acid)
    Cream cheese
    Mozarella/ paneer
    Blue Cheese
    Hard cheeses.

  3. Hi Emma: the reason you need to adjust the press is because as you press the cheese, moisture is released (the whey), which makes the pressure less as your cheese gets smaller and more compact. You therefore need to readjust the pressure. Happens with all presses. Glad you had fun doing it though! :) - Saskia, Mad Millie

  4. Oh that is really interesting Saskia - I never thought about that, thank you for your comment!