Don't get me wrong. Any self respecting homesteader has made cheese. I'm no different. I've made half a ton of cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and other herbed spreadable cheese before, but never a cheddar or even a semi hard cheese like Swiss.
My excuse...I didn't have the molds,nor weights, nor a press. Then I figured I didn't need a fancy smancy cheese press or cheese molds the online places sold. I went to my favorite place to learn something new...YouTube. There isn't much that you can't find. I also bought one of those Ricki Carol kits. The one with various cultures and rennet. It also came with cheesecloth, a thermometer, a strainer basket, and instructions. I much prefer my flour sack dish towels than cheesecloth. It's more sustainable.
My friend in North Carolina had sent me home with a gallon and a half of frozen goat milk. Mel was tired of "tripping over" all those
|Mel built hers with 16" bolts|
All I needed was to fashion was the follower that moved freely inside the pipe on to the scrap pile. We tried several ready made options, like a wide mouth canning lids, but the all could not stand the pressure. Mel then took a leftover piece of 1x4. She cut the insert and sanded it. We finally had something that would work...sort of. It took several cuttings and sanding attempts before we got it perfect. By using wood as a follower, the wood would get wet and swell. After a while, the follower wouldn't move freely in the PVC. So wood would not be the best option, but it's what we had. We also pulled small blocks from the scrap pile to take up the space between the follower and the top of the book press/cheese press.
The weights were empty, gallon milk jugs filled with water. 1 gal of liquid= 8 1/3 pounds. I figure 1 jug equaled about 10 lbs or at least close enough for just playing around. If I was successful and I liked making hard cheese, a yard sale or Goodwill would have a set of standard weights cheaper than new. First we'd have to buy the dairy goats to supply my cheese making endeavors. Right now, I was playing with options. Who knows, I could hate the process and not want to do it again. No sense in spending my nickles and dimes yet.
Now I was ready to make cheese! I mixed enough cow's milk with calcium chloride with the partially thawed goats milk to make two gallons of liquid. working with full gallons is a lot easier than cutting a rennet tablet into 1/8th or 16ths. Then I placed it in a large, heavy bottomed pot. I gently brought the combined liquid up to temperature. I added the culture and let it bloom in the warm milk. I added the required rennet. It was instant gratification to see curds forming as I stirred it in. I put the pot in a warm water bath to let the curds finish forming.
I cooked off the curds and strained them dry. I poured the curds into the mold. I retained the whey for ricotta cheese later. But that's another process.
I have to say, that I'm actually pleased with the result. Did you know that cheddar cheese is made by cheddaring the curds? I didn't. I thought this was kind of neat. It seemed a shame to have to break that glossy, smooth cheddared cheese up to add salt, but I did.
I air dried, to set the rind, 1 1/2 pounds of pressed cheddar. The bits and pieces that did not fit into the mold for the first weighted pressing was put in a bowl with cream, garlic and herbs for an overnight aged treat to be eaten with crackers. After all, the cheddar won't be aged for 3 months to a year before it's ready to eat.
As with most homesteads, the Cockeyed Homestead believes in waste not, want not. Everything has a second or third use. The whey was turned into ricotta cheese. Add some day old cream cheese, homemade sour cream, and leftover cottage cheese and we had the start of my infamous baked cheesecake. Just something else to nosh on while we are waiting. Topped with my Triple Berry Delight jam made this summer as an extra fine treat. Yum!
After all is said and done, I may be investing in some weights. Cheese making is a labor of love and time. I can see myself doing this again. Now, about them goats... :o)
Y'all have a blessed day!