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Between some of the issues I’ve been having with the mozzarella and the lengthy aging process before knowing whether your cheese- or even the recipe you’re trying is successful- I was nervous and hesitant to delve into hard cheese making. Until I tried Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese. My husband pushed me off the cliff and forced me to find a recipe and I’m so glad he did!
I chose to make farmhouse cheddar since it produces results in less than a week instead of months, alleviating that source of anxiety. Since there wasn’t time to get Home Cheese Making from the library and I couldn’t see the whole recipe through Amazon preview, I compared notes with that snapshot of the recipe and the recipe posted on Leeners and combined the two into what you see below.
While I’m not very good at describing the nuances of the cheese, we all enjoyed the flavor of this cheese and thought it made an excellent grilled cheese sandwich or better yet toasted ham & cheese. It reminded me of the toasted cheese I was made as a child with a mild cheese known as Brick or Farmer’s cheese. It definitely didn’t have as sharp a flavor as even the mild cheddar I’m familiar with. Overall, I thought it was much easier to make than traditional mozzarella, even though the process takes longer. Most of the work was done in just a minute here and there and there were no worries about stretching when I’m wanting to wind down for the night (even if I start first thing in the morning, mine is ready and stretches best around 8-9 at night).
Thoroughly stir in the dissolved calcium chloride. Heat the milk to 90 degrees, stirring.
Add the mesophilic culture and stir until melted. Cover the pot and allow to sit and ripen for 45 minutes.
Add the dissolved rennet, stirring for one minute in a gentle up & down motion. Cover the pot and allow to sit forming curds for 30 minutes.
Test for a clean break by using a knife to just lift a bit of the curd. It should lift clean and smooth and the void should fill with a bit of whey.
Cut the curds to 1/2″ cubes. Allow to sit and heal for 5 minutes.
Sink water temperature
Indirectly heat the curds to 100 degrees, aiming for a rate of 2 degrees every 5 minutes. This is achieved by placing the pot in a sink of hot water (100-110 degrees) and stirring frequently. Curds will shrink up a bit and the yellow whey will increase. This process is the most labor intensive and usually takes me about 45 minutes. I have also found it necessary to drain the water in the sink and refill it with hot water as the whey nears the 100 degree mark.
*The thermometer you see is my favorite! It’s digital, inexpensive, reads quickly, is self-calbrating, and has a 5 year warranty!! You can get your own here.
Oops- Although I was checking it every 5 minutes, the temperature got a bit too high this time.
Hold the temperature at 100 degrees for 5 minutes. (One source said 1 hour, but I’ve been pleased with the results at the quicker time.)
Scoop the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. (I buy use this one. It has a nice close weave.)
Tie up the cheesecloth and hang for 1 hour.
Take down the cheesecloth and break the curds apart with your fingers.
Mix in 2 T. of salt, 1 T. at a time, waiting 1 minute between each addition.
Place in cheesecloth lined press and press for 15 minutes at 4-5 pounds of pressure.
Take the curds from the press, removing the cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth back into the mold and return the curds to the mold upside down. Press at 10-12 pounds (we’re still experimenting with this number) for 12 hours.
Remove cheese from press and unwrap. Air dry for 1-2 days, turning twice a day. We cut ours in two to speed up drying.
Cheese is ready when a butter colored rind develops and is dry to the touch.
Unwaxed, this cheese will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or grate and freeze. To age the cheddar, seal in wax for up to three months and store at a temperature of 45-60 degrees.