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.