Cheesepalooza #5 Farmhouse Cheddar with Chives
This is my final post for 2012 and of course it has to be cheese! After receiving a cheese making kit for Christmas last year I haven’t looked back. My New Year’s resolution was to teach myself to make cheese and “By jove, I thinks she’s got it!”
Well I still have a lot to learn and I have had a couple of minor disasters along the way, but overall I am very satisfied with my cheese making efforts for the year. The biggest achievement is to be able to serve a platter of home made cheeses to friends without the fear that I’m going to poison them.
I am five months into the Cheesepalooza challenge and this month we step up a gear to make what I would consider a ‘real’ cheese. A simple cheddar style cheese with the optional addition of dried herbs. Now we are getting onto the serious stuff, where patience is required. There is not enough time in a month to make and age this cheese sufficiently (especially if you do it on 27th December) so I now have to sit and wait for a couple of months while it does it’s thing in the cheese cave. I have enjoyed the other cheddar I have made so I have high hopes for this one.
The process is slightly more precise and lengthy now the cheeses are getting more cheesey. The curd for this cheese has to be stirred gently at a specific temperature for quite some time. Good music should be part of the recipe for this one as you cannot leave the pan for a good 20 minutes as you stir.
Although this cheese is called a cheddar, it does not actually involve the cheddaring process, which involves pressing, stacking and re-cutting of the curds so it will be interesting to see what effect this has on the flavour.
The stirring and heating of the curds helps them to firm up, giving that harder texture that cheddar has. The curds are then drained when they have shrunk sufficiently. At this stage you can add your optional herbs. I added chives so I could compare the flavour to non-herbed cheddar I have made.
Pressing is also the key to the texture of this cheese. If it is not pressed sufficiently you will end up with unwanted holes in your cheese. They are unwanted as this is where the bacteria can grow and sour the cheese.
Once pressed the cheese is brined in order to help flavour develop and rind formation. It is then air dried, again to help rind formation but also to provide a dry surface for the wax to stick to. At this stage waxing is optional but I have tried aging in vacuum sealed bags, but I much prefer the result with wax.
With previous cheese I have portioned the cheese before waxing but this time I have waxed all 950g of the cheese to see what effect this has on the aging process. I will then cut and wax again when it comes to eating. Even I can’t manage to eat that much cheese in the short time frame it takes to go mouldy. Don’t forget my cheese does not have any preservatives.
With a successful year of cheese making I look forward to all of the the different challenges that 2013 has in store, including cold smoking my cheese with this year’s Christmas present! Thank you for reading and Happy New Year to all you lovely readers of Nic Cooks.