...Cheese Making Pt. 1

This is our third attempt at making cheese at home.  The last two times, we made a soft cheese using lemon as the coagulant.  We used yoghurt in our second attempt to ferment the cheese and mixed in chopped chives hoping to improve the flavour.  The flavour was improved slightly and had better depth.  However, we knew that in order to develop that cheesey flavour, we were going to have to age our cheese properly.  The difficulty in our previous attempts to age our cheese were the deep cracks that would form as it aged in our fridge.  We suspect that this was due to the curds not being pressed properly to remove most of the whey.  This time around, we are using microbial rennet (available locally at the Springbank Cheese Co.) as the coagulant and this website as our guide.

 Here is what we used to prepare the cheese for aging:

Ingredients / Materials

-4 L of 3% milk
-1/3 cup of active culture yoghurt
-Rennet tablets (follow instructions included for amount required)
-Large pot
-Digital kitchen thermometer
-Cheese cloth
-Strainer / colander
-Pressing apparatus (we made one similar to this)

Materials for our presser

Method (As seen here)

1. Sterilize the pot by adding an inch of water and boiling for 5 minutes with lid on.  Pour out water and cool pot to room temperature.

2.  Add milk and allow it to come to room temperature (no additional heat is required, your pot should already be warm).  Stir in yoghurt and cover with lid.  Let the mixture sit overnight to allow the bacteria innoculate the milk.

3.  Dissolve rennet in water, and let it sit for half an hour (follow instructions included with your tablets).

 4.  Gradually warm the milk mixture to 35 degrees celcuis, being careful not to burn the mixture.  Use your thermometer to check the temperature.

 5.  Add rennet solution and mix well.  Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to stand undisturbed for 2 hours.

6.  Stick a clean finger into the coagulated milk and lift up, if the curd breaks around your finger cleanly it is ready to be cut. 

7.  Use a long knife to cut the curd into pieces- parallel lines 1" apart, turn the pot 90 degrees and cut again.  Turn pot 90 degrees a second time and cut. 

 8.  Set the curd by placing the pot over low heat, until it reaches 34 degrees for soft cheese and up to 39 degrees for hard cheese.  While it is heating, mix curd gently with a clean hand until the texture of the curd is that of firm scrambled eggs.  You might have to hold the temperature while the curds firm up.

 9. Separate curds from the whey using a strainer and cheese cloth.  Pack your pressing apparatus with the curds, using a new piece of cheese cloth.  Try to minimize folds and wrinkles in the cloth.  Press for 12 hours.

Packing it in

Using the lid of the tin can as the spacer
The heavy can was secured using a bungee cord

Next: ...Cheese Making Pt. 2


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