Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Cheddar in the Making, Me Making Cheddar.
I guess only a cheese maker would jump for joy at the sight of milk coagulating..
So even though you could just see the directions here: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese98.htm I'll describe exactly what I did and the things I did differently than Mr. Fankhauser. I did email Mr. Fankhauser to ask what kind of cheese this makes. He told me cheddar, so that's what I'm telling you. It's cheddar!
First Step: Pour gallon of whole milk (fresh as possible) into a large stainless steel (not aluminum) pot. Apparently I was supposed to warm up the milk before putting the inoculum into the milk but I didn't read the directions carefully enough. Also I made another mistake and put 1/3 cup of buttermilk into the milk -instead of 3 teaspoons of buttermilk. I think I made the mistake because it said 2-3 teaspoons of buttermilk OR 1/3 cup yogurt. Right of the bat I made two mistakes. So I poured the milk and the buttermilk into the pot and heated it till it was about 68 deg F. I used a meat thermometer to see the temperature. Once I realized my buttermilk mistake it was pretty much 68 deg F already so I waited till it was at the right warming temperature and added 3 teaspoons of buttermilk again. I figured the cultures in 1/3 cup of buttermilk already added must have died. Looking back on it that was very stupid logic because why would we then add the inoculum to the warm milk if it was just going to get singed off? But whatever that's what I did. So I did this about 11AM one early afternoon. So I put the lid on the pot and added a post-it that told everyone not to open the lid and look inside. I believe it was about 8:30PM that same day when I began the next step.
Second Step: Heat the milk to 86 deg F. I made sure the temperature on the stove was medium-low so the milk wouldn't burn on the bottom. The rennet I bought was vegetable rennet. I believe the rennet Mr. Fankhauser used was from cow's intestine. And don't be repulsed at the thought. Most, actually probably all of the cheese you eat has rennet from some animal's intestines in it. I bought way too many rennet tablets, but that's okay because the tablets can last for years if frozen. So if by any chance you need a vegetable rennet tablet you can ask me and I'd be happy to give you one. This cheese recipe calls for 1/4 of a rennet tablet. While the milk was heating to 86 deg F, I dissolved the 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cold water. When the milk was 86 deg F it was then that I added the rennet/water mixture.
Third Step: Wait. Wait and hope and pray for coagulation. I think I waited and hoped for an hour until I stuck my finger in to see if there would be a clean break. And guess what?! There was a clean break!
Fourth Step: I cut the curd with a long knife in long straight lines up and down and across the whole mixture. I made sure the knife was long enough to reach the bottom of the pot. I also made sure that when I was cutting straight lines it reached all the way to the bottom of the pot. When I finished cutting the top, it looked very clean looking and the cubes about 1/2'' big.
Fifth Step: I put the pot on low heat while stirring the curds with a clean hand and arm. When I kept mixing I had to cut the long curds into shorter lengths to achieve a true 'cube'. Soon with the heat and with no help of 'squishing' or 'mashing', the curds looked very similar to cottage cheese. I heated the curds up to 104 deg F. I didn't mean to go 2 deg F over what Mr. Fankhauser said to, but even when I took the pot off the heat the curds still raised about two deg F after wards. The curds sunk to the bottom and the whey (liquid) was on top.
Sixth Step: I poured the whey through a strainer into a larger bowl. There was a lot of whey. I was hoping it wouldn't be that much whey. I was hoping the majority of what I made would be cheese, oh well I guess. I had two bowls. One held the whey and one held the curds.
Seventh Step: I added 2 teaspoons of salt into the curds and mixed it in with my hand until it was even through out the curds. Apparently the salt is to help the cheese from not rotting while it's curing. So cheese it supposed to age..but too much aging is a bad thing. Hum.
Eighth Step: I put all the curds (firm-white-clumping-cottage-cheese-stuff) into my stainless steel cheese press. I used the smaller cylinder and cranked the knobs and handles of the cheese press as hard as I could. I think now after seeing how it came out, I would have flattened all the curds as I put them in the press before I tightened the knobs. So I began the pressing that night probably about 11PM and took it out of the press the next morning/afternoon some time.
Ninth Step: When I removed the cheese I rubbed it with salt and wrapped it in a piece of cheese cloth that I got at the grocery store. I set the wrapped cheese gently in an open tupper ware container and put it in the fridge. Every day I'm supposed to unwrap it and re-rub it with salt and re-wrap it with a new piece of cheese cloth until the cheese cloths are no longer getting wet from the cheese. I should stop having to re-rub/wrap in two weeks. The cheese is supposed to form a yellow rind on it's own. After about two weeks, I'm supposed to dip the cheese in melted wax. I'd like to do red wax. I've looked at cheese websites to see where I could get a small block of red wax. However, I really don't feel like paying 10-15$ to get a pound of red wax delivered to my door step. I think I'll cross that bridge when it comes. Perhaps someone had a bunch of red crayons I could have? Is that wax from crayons safe to cover my cheese with? Anyways after the wax is on the cheese it's supposed to stay in the refrigerator for a whole month.
And that's how to make Cheddar Cheese! I hope to learn to make many more cheeses with the help nothing and no one but my own initiative and the internet!