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Making Cheese at Home #8 Christmas Wensleydale

It has been a whole year since I got my cheese making kit last Christmas. I cannot believe how much I have achieved since the first not so successful attempts at mozzarella. I have been steadily working my way through Artisan Cheese Making at Home starting with the fresh cheeses and working up to pressed cheddar that I aged for a painstakingly long six months.

I also feel I’ve gained enough skills to start experimenting and developing my own cheeses. I can’t exactly claim this one as mine, as it is that classic cheese of Wallace and Grommet fame. But I did read a few recipes and tailor it to suit.  For Christmas I’ve added some cranberries to make it into a great cheese for dessert.  This cheese is tart and crumbly, but with a little bit of sour/sweet from the cranberries.  It also looks pretty on the cheeseboard for Christmas.

As with my other homemade cheeses I cannot really call this a Wensleydale as it was not made in Yorkshire and I’m not sure it would pass the test with Wallace and Grommet but I hope the resulting cheese is somewhere close.  I enjoyed it and it is another cheese to add to my collections of favourites… It’s getting harder and harder to narrow it down to just one.

The Wensleydale should be matured for 1-2 months prior to eating.  The Wensleydale with cranberries is best eaten sooner rather than later as the cranberries can start to ferment if left too long.  One month in and the cheese with cranberries was perfect.

This recipe is adapted from recipes from Paul Peacock and Ricki Carol.

Wensleydale with Cranberries
8 litres unhomogenised milk
1/2 teaspoon MM100 starter culture prepared in 200ml UHT milk
2ml Calcium Chloride diluted in 60ml cooled, boiled water
2ml Rennet diluted in 60ml cooled, boiled water
2 tsp salt
50-100g dried cranberries

Prepare your starter culture the day before or use as per the instructions on the packet.

Gather all your equipment together and make sure they are all clean and sterilised.

Gently heat the milk in a large non-reactive pan until it reaches 32 degrees Celsius. Add the prepared starter culture stirring until well combined. Maintain the temperature at 32C and allow the milk to ripen for 60-90 minutes.

Add the calcium chloride if you are are using and stir until well combined.  Add the rennet, and stir with an up and down motion until well combined, this should take about 1 minute.

Maintain the temperature at 32C and allow the curds to set for 1 hour. After 1 hour test the curds for a clean break.  If you have a clean break cut the curds into 2cm cubes and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  If there is not a clean break, allow to stand for another 15 minutes and test again.

Gently stir the curds for 15 minutes while raising the temperature to 35C

Allow the curds to rest for 15 minutes, maintaining the temperature at 35C

Remove enough whey to expose the curds then drain the curds in a colander lined with damp butter muslin. Allow to drain for 15-20 minutes, or until the whey stops dripping.  Cut the curds again into 2cm cubes, then sprinkle with the salt.  At this point you can either transfer to the mould and press or add some dried fruit, such as cranberries.  I thought I’d do half and half so I put half of the curds in a mould lined with damp butter muslin.

I mixed the other half of the curds with 50g dried cranberries.  I then transferred the curds to the mould lined with butter muslin.  Press the curds over night with 5kg of weight, turning after an hour or so.

Sprinkle with 1tsp salt and air dry for 12-24 hours turning once before waxing.  The cheese needs to be dry before you can apply the wax. Heat the wax and dip the cheese into it, ensuring all edges are covered with at least two layers.

Age in a cheese fridge set at 12-15C for 4-6 weeks.


Comment from Christine @ Cooking Crusade
Time December 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

These look amazing Nic and I bet they taste even better ! I love the addition of the cranberries for a bit of sweetness and how perfect for Christmas!

Comment from Miss Piggy
Time December 28, 2012 at 6:33 am

Amazing – it looks so festive. I learnt how to make Ricotta & Labne at a class two weeks ago – they weren’t too difficult (not that I’ve attempted them at home mind you) but I cannot imagine turning out a “real” cheese!

Comment from Gaby
Time December 29, 2012 at 6:17 am

With cranberries! Great idea!

Comment from GourmetGetaways
Time December 30, 2012 at 8:58 am

I have had the privilege of sampling your cheese at the food bloggers picnic and it was delicious!

Thanks for sharing your recipe… it is a little different to mine. What is the Calcium Chloride for, I don’t think I have used it before?

Comment from nic
Time January 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

The calcium chloride is optional. They use it a lot in the states because the quality of their milk is poor. Basically it help curd formation and improves the quality. I started using it as all I could get initially was supermarket milk, but now I find it increases the yield of cheese.

Comment from christine @
Time January 11, 2013 at 2:51 am

It is so beautiful, Nic!! A year of cheesemaking under your belt and look at what you can create. I’m so impressed. :)

Comment from jill
Time February 10, 2013 at 1:11 am

I made this cheese from your instructions but without the cranberries a few weeks ago. We have just tried some and it was delicious, many thanks for the recipe, I will be making it again soon.

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