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Making cheddar cheese at home

Making Cheddar Cheese

So a good year after buying a book on the topic, I finally bit the bullet and bought a hard cheese making kit which arrived last week. There are a plethora out there to choose from.  Generally speaking it seems both cheaper and easier to start with soft cheese, but I wanted to challenge myself so I went straight in for some hard cheese making and started with the cheddar recipe supplied along with the kit. Most of the local milk is homogenised, a process which stops the cream separating from the milk, but I sourced some unhomogenised organic milk in Waitrose, other supermarkets are available. I also sourced an improbably large stock pot and some Tupperware to keep the cheese in while it is ageing.

Cleanliness is key

It’s very important to sterilise everything you are going to use thoroughly, which was easy as the kit included steriliser. The next task was getting the milk up to 32 degrees precisely. The supplied mechanical thermometer felt a little inadequate for the precision I was going for, but I have a digital thermo so not an issue.

Waiting for the right chemistry

img_1968There is an interminable hour’s wait after adding the starter and rennet to see if you are going to have a good set, the milk should turn in to a gel like consistency during this time. To take my mind off it, I drew this lovely sketch of the kitchen….

Luckily the milk had changed consistency! I had to heat it up to 38 degrees gently over an hour, during which time loads of whey came out of the curds.

Finally there was some pressing at different weights until a final press at 20kgs, the press in this particular kit includes a pressure gauge which was very handy! Sadly, my mould cracked on the first use, which was less so.

Is it edible?

img_1980Regardless, we now have a little cake of potential Cheddar Cheese mouldering on the kitchen bench! I will wax it in a week’s time, and then try it after a further 5 to 6 weeks… I am feeling inspired to try some more instantly gratifying soft cheese recipes in the intervening time.

If you would like a wedge when it’s ready to eat; or if you would like me to try a particular recipe, well then please let me know below!