Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Making cheese in my sleep..
Have you ever wanted to learn to make cheese? My first attempts were many years ago, probably about 25 years ago, and I did not then realize the importance of using something to culture my milk and the cheeses almost always went bad. I kept thinking "how did they do it long ago before you could purchase cheese culture?" and was silly and stubborn about it and finally gave up. That was then. This is now. I've been making cheese, on an extremely limited basis for the last year and a half since I got my milk goats. I make whole milk ricotta, which is very easy and requires no special equipment. I make fresh kefir cheese which is also very easy. But I wanted to make "real" cheese - you know, the kind you can slice and melt. I've been making bread for 38 years, and I claim I can nearly make it in my sleep. That is how I want my cheese making to be, and I think in time, it will get that way, but right now, it is a big job because I don't have it memorized and gotten it to the point where I barely have to think about it. Believe it or not, I can nearly make soap in my sleep too. I have hope that if I persist, cheese will get like that. I am not, yet, interested in making all kinds of cheese. I just want some standard cheddar - type cheese, and oh, yes, I would like to learn to make mozzarella also, but I'll do that later. I call my cheese "farmhouse cheddar." And here is how I do it:
Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese
2 gallons raw whole goat milk
1/4 teaspoon mesophyllic cheese starter
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet
2 Tablespoons sea salt
1. Pour milk into large heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot that will give you a little room for stirring.
2. Heat milk gently to 90 degrees F. Remove from heat.
3. Mix the mesophyllic starter into a little bit of cool water and then stir it well into the milk. Put on the lid and let the milk sit for 45 minutes.
4. Mix the rennet into 1/4 cup cool water. Bring the milk back up to 90 degrees F. and remove from heat again. Stir the diluted rennet into the milk for a few minutes. Put the lid back on and let it sit for 45 more minutes, or until when you insert your finger in the milk you get a "clean break" when you pull it out.
5. Cut the curd with a long sharp knife into 1/4 inch cubes. Stir gently with your hand, cutting the larger pieces into smaller pieces for 15 minutes.
6. Heat the curds to 100 degrees F, increasing the temperature no more than two degrees every 5 minutes. This should take about half an hour or so. Stir gently, with your hand, often, to keep the curds from clumping together.
7. Place the pan in a sink full of 100 degree F. water, covered, and let it sit for another 30 minutes, stirring it with your hand several times.
8. Drain off and save the whey. Pour the curds into a large colander lined with some good quality cheese cloth - not the cheap stuff you buy at a fabric store. I buy mine online.
9. Put the curds into a large bowl and gently, but thoroughly stir in the 2 Tablespoons sea salt.
10. Line your cheese press with cheese cloth and put the salted curds in there. Fold the cheese cloth over the top, add the follower and press for 10 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Invert the cheese press container and press from the other end at 30 pounds of pressure for another 10 minutes.
11. Remove from press, "dress" the cheese with fresh cheese cloth cut to fit - which will be two little round pieces for the ends and 1 long strip to go around the cheese. Return to press at 50 pounds of pressure until the next morning.
12. Take the cheese out of the press and carefully remove the cheesecloth dressing. Trim off any bits that are sticking out along an edge at the top or bottom of your cheese wheel.
13. Here is a photo of my cheese drying in the refrigerator. I will let it dry there, on a dish towel, for about 3 days, until it is good and dry. Be sure to turn it over at least a couple of times a day as it dries.
14. Then I will dip it, twice, in melted cheese wax, return it to the fridge to age for 1 to 2 months, turning it occasionally. I do not have a proper cheese aging room, and the fridge seems to work just fine.
Now, what to do with the whey!
Put your whey back into the pot, add 1 pint of milk, and heat gently to 200 degrees, add 1/2 cup white vinegar and stir. Let it sit, off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain and you'll have the loveliest ricotta cheese you've ever tasted! Add some salt and chopped chives, and you'll be in heaven!
I bought my cheese press and cheese cloth here: http://hoeggergoatsupply.com/xcart/home.php
And here is a good place to buy cheesemaking supplies as well: http://www.thecheesemaker.com/
I have this book and it has been very helpful: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Cheese-Making-Recipes-Delicious/dp/1580174647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264608194&sr=8-1
When I actually do make it "in my sleep", I'll report back here! Wish me luck!
I must add a safety caution ~ when you melt your cheese wax, be certain to do it in some sort of double boiler set up, because if you melt it directly over heat, it can get too hot, explode and burn you terribly! NEVER take a chance with wax.