Wednesday, July 17, 2019

3-Month Cheddar Cheese (Recipe and Instructions)

Hi Everyone :)

Now that my cheesy mojo is back, I thought I'd make a Cheddar cheese! This cheese will be ready in 3 months and I plan on making a Cheddar each weekend for a little while to age at various lengths of time. It's an easy process but you need the right ingredients and equipment and a lot of time!

The key word in this post and in cheese making is GENTLE. You will see what I mean!! :)

Here are your ingredients:

- 10 liters of whole milk
- 1/8 tsp MA11 Mesophilic Culture
- 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride 
- 1/4 tsp Double Strength Rennet (Coagulant)
- 1 tbsp Cheese Salt (non-iodized salt)
- Cool filtered water

Here is the equipment that I used:

- A pot big enough to hold over 10 liters of liquid
- A double boiler (I used my canning pot)
- A very good and accurate thermometer - digital is best
- Cheesecloth
- Measuring tools 
- Cheese mould
- Slotted spoon
- Long knife the height of your pot (mine is too short!!)

I've divided the process into 5 stages:

1. Mixing the ingredients
2. Caring for the curds
3. Cheddaring and Milling
4. Moulding and Pressing
5. Drying and Aging

I hope you try to make cheese, it's really fun! :)

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients

1. In a double boiler over medium low to low heat, warm your milk slowly to 88F. Turn off the burner at about 86F because the double boiler will continue to heat and you don't want it too hot. Mine went up to 90F at one point, but it didn't seem to affect the process at all.

2. Sprinkle your MA11 culture over the milk; cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

At this point, I move my pot from the double boiler into the sink. I have the sink plugged and use tap water (hot or cold) to help maintain the pot of milk at 88F. It acts as a double boiler and it's a lot easier to maintain the temperature this way. I will still use my big pot when I'm ready to cook my curds, but until then, the sink is perfect! 

3. Stir the milk well but gently for about a minute and let sit for 40 minutes.

4. After the 40 minute mark, add your Calcium Chloride to 1/4 cup of cool filtered water and mix well. Set aside. Add your Double Strength Rennet to 1/8 cup of cool filtered water and mix well. Set aside. 

Some people use a colorant called Annato. It's an orange food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree - all natural. I used to use it, but then figured...why do I need my Cheddar to be orange anyway??? :) If you do use it, prepare it at this stage too.

 5. Stir your milk as you add the Calcium Chloride mix. Count to 60 while gently stirring. Do the same with the Rennet mix, count to 60 (over mixing the rennet will mess up the curd formation). If you use Annato, add it before the Calcium Chloride.

6. Let sit for 40 minutes at 88F.

Stage 2: Caring For The Curds

7. Check to see if your curd has formed. Gently push your knife into the formation and pull it out. If it starts to heal quickly, you're good to go! The texture should be like a soft tofu. 

8. Using your long knife, cut your curds into a 1/2 inch grid formation to make cubes. My knife is not long enough for my big old pot, so my curds ended up all messy, not quite like cubes, but that's okay.

9. Cover and let rest 5 minutes.

10. Put your pot back into the double boiler on the stove and cook your curds. Right now your curds should be still around 88F. You want your curds to reach 102F but EXTREMELY SLOWLY while you GENTLY stir them. We are talking over a 40 minute time frame. This means you need to monitor your heat in the double boiler so that you only increase the temperature by 3 degrees or so every 10 minutes. Going too fast during this process will not allow the curds to release enough whey. You want your curds to slowly release the whey so that they turn into little "baked beans"; otherwise you'll end up with a hell of a lot of Ricotta. If you stir too hard, the whey will release too much and you'll have a cheese that will not "knit" together and will never form because it's too dry. This is a crucial step in the process!

Tip: When I noticed the temperature of the curds rising, I'd turn off the heat for a few minutes, then turn it back on - we're talking very low heat. I found it the best way to stop the curds from heating up too fast. And when I say GENTLY stir...pretend you're trying not to burst bubbles!! :)🎈🎈🎈🎈

11.  When you've reached your 102F after 40 minutes have elapsed while you gently stirred your curds, turn off the heat and let the curds sit for 40 minutes in the double boiler to maintain their heat. The curds will drop to the bottom of the pot and (hopefully!) form a slab. **This photo shows the pot out of the double boiler, but please keep it in there!

Stage 3: Cheddaring and Milling

12. The Cheddaring process begins!! To cheddar your curds, drain most of the whey out of the pot then drain in cheesecloth and put the slab back into your pot. (Side note: keep the whey to make Ricotta or to give to your plants). Keeping the pot in the double boiler, cut the curd slab in half, maintaining 102F during the entire cheddaring process. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

**DON'T drain the whey during this process, it will dry out your curds too much and they will not form a wheel in your press.**

13. Turn each slab over, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

14. Turn each slab over, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. (Seeing double lol?)

15. Turn each slab over, cover and let sit for 15 minutes for a total cheddaring time of 45 minutes.

16. Drain your slabs in a cheesecloth lined colander then transfer them to a cutting board. My two halves kind of fell apart and turned into three, no problem. :)

17. Cut the curd slab into cubes.

18. This next step is called "Milling". You break up each cube of curd in half and dump it back into the pot.

19. Add your salt and mix very well but gently with your hands. Milling is done!

Stage 4: Moulding and Pressing

20. Transfer your curds into a cheesecloth-lined mould. My mould is about 7 inches in diameter by 3.5 inches high. Cover the curds with the cheesecloth and then with your follower.

21. Press your curds at 25 pounds for one hour. This is how I set up my press. During the pressing, a little bit of whey will continue to release so you don't want your cheese mould sitting in a pool of whey. I use a roasting pan, put a plastic cutting board into it; then a bamboo place mat.

I then add a plastic mesh mat and place the mould on top.

There is just enough room for a can of evaporated milk on the top of the follower (this will help to push the follower down onto the curds to help it form during the pressing). Alex made me a Cheese Press (see the link for instructions on how to make it.) Next step: I place the top board onto the press.

I tighten the nuts and place my weight of about 25 pounds on top.

I use a level to ensure that the weight is distributed evenly - works like a charm!!

This is what my cheese looks like after one hour of pressing at about 25 pounds.

22. Next step is to GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY remove the cheese from the cheesecloth, turn it over and re-wrap it. The first time I made Cheddar, I wasn't gentle and the whole thing fell apart!

Tip: Have a second piece of cheesecloth ready. Place it on top of your cheese, then place a breadboard on top and pick up the bottom breadboard to flip it that way. It's so much easier than trying to flip it with your hands back into the same piece of cheesecloth, because it's very delicate at this stage!

23. Place your cheese GENTLY in the cloth back into your mould. Put on the follower and press it overnight for about 12 hours at 50 pounds. My water jug weighs 45 pounds full so I added a few dumbbells to make it about 53 pounds.

Stage 5: Drying and Aging

The next morning this was the result. On one side it was all weird looking and I realized that I didn't STRAIGHTEN OUT my cheesecloth! I just jumbled it all up. See the importance of straightening it out? It's not a big deal, it'll still be okay!

The bottom though, looks perfect.

24. The last step is drying and aging. I will air-dry this cheese for 3 days, flipping it twice daily - again GENTLY. I have it set up on a plate with a bamboo mat to give it enough air. I can leave it on the counter because I have doors to close the kitchen (THREE CATS!!). But, before I had kitchen doors, I would simply leave it in the oven with the oven door ajar a bit and it worked fine.

25. The final step is aging. You can age your cheese many ways but I choose to vacuum seal it and put it in my little bar fridge (a.k.a. the cheese cave) at 10 Celsius. I have a small vacuum sealer but it wasn't big enough for the larger wheels of cheese so I ordered this one (about $50). It's 12 inches wide and came with bags already. It arrived this morning and I'll be sealing my cheese tomorrow. This sealer is useful for EVERYTHING not just cheese so it's a good frugal investment! :)

I'll post an update when the cheese is ready to be aged! :)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Homemade Cheese Press

I woke up one morning last week to this surprise. Alex made me a cheese press! And he printed out my web site's name too! :) One of the reasons I stopped making cheese was because my cheeses kept failing. I figured it was one of two reasons:

1. Bad quality cultures and rennet
2. Bad equipment (moulds and press)

OR BOTH. Alex knew how much I missed making cheese, but I was adamant. Until I had the right equipment and ingredients, I wasn't going to waste my time and money. A store bought cheese press can run a person hundreds of dollars so that wasn't in the budget at all!

We watched a video on You Tube. It was this normal every day guy who makes cheese at home and he made his own press. Little did I know I was going to be on the receiving end of my own press too! 😊 We already had a bread board that we weren't using (the bottom one). It had some cracks in it and we were worried about food safety so we stopped using it. But it was perfect for the base of the press. Alex found a spare piece of wood in the basement and mimicked the bread board for the top piece. He drilled holes on each corner of the boards, sanded everything and used mineral oil to cure the wood pieces. 12-inch bolts hold everything together. Total cost was under $20  for the bolts.

He wanted to make sure that my largest mould fit and it wasn't an issue at all. Because he made the top exactly the same as the base bread board (with a handle hole and everything!!), it's very easy to store and use!

I've mentioned that I used to use bricks and my dumbbells before to weigh down the cheese. Well, Alex came up with a better solution. A water jug! He brought down the bathroom scale and we added water and marked the weight starting at 10 pounds. The entire filled water jug weighs 45 pounds. 

I decided that I would dump all of my old ingredients and moulds that I'd bought from a mediocre store and replace them with better ingredients and moulds. I now buy all of my supplies from Glengarry Cheesemaking in Ontario, Canada. I noticed the better quality immediately!

So I was ready to go!

In the above photo I'm making a Cheddar that requires 50 pounds of weight for 12 hours, so I just added my two 4 pound dumbbells to the top to give it about 53 pounds in total. I have a level handy to make sure the weight is well distributed (Alex's idea again!)

I have to say this works like a charm - and on a budget!!! My first wheel of Cheddar is perfectly pressed with no lips, edges or holes.

Cheese making is possible again! I love my man! :) 💘

Saturday, June 22, 2019

American Cheese

Hi Everyone, 

Life is getting better for me, things have calmed down a bit and I'm nesting again as a renter for another year. Hopefully the spring of 2020 will bring me a property suitable to buy! Until then, I'm getting back to normal, which means...


I took on an easy project this week, American Cheese. If you think of Kraft Singles or Velveeta, you're on the right track!

Ideally I would have made this with my homemade cheeses, but since I didn't have any made for nearly a year now (eek!) I headed to my local cheese shop for some good cheeses to use in this. Anyone can make it, it's so easy!

And it melts well! My cheese is white because I used white Cheddar, but if you use orange Cheddar, you'll get a nice orange colour to it.

The ingredients are simple, here is the recipe!

American Cheese


For the cheese:
1 tsp Kosher salt
150ml whole milk
2 tbsp butter
4 tsp Sodium Citrate (you can make this at home, I'll show you how!)
300g shredded Cheddar
300g shredded Monterey Jack, Colby or really any other cheese you like

For the Sodium Citrate:
1/4 cup filtered water
25g citric acid
33g baking soda


Make your Sodium Citrate: Mix the water and citric acid together in an oven proof dish. Slowly add the baking soda. It will fizz like crazy because it's releasing CO2. It took me about 20 minutes to mix the baking soda into the mixture before it stopped fizzing and looked more clear. Bake in a 250F oven for about 3-4 hours until it's crystallized. It'll take some elbow grease to scrape it all off the pan, but do it, you need it! The last step is to make it into a powder. I have a mortar and pestle which works very well.

Make your Cheese

1. Shred your cheeses before you start! 

2. Over a double boiler, add the salt, milk, butter and Sodium Citrate. Mix well and heat to a simmer.

3. Add the shredded cheese a little at a time until it melts smoothly.

4. Pour into a buttered foil loaf pan (or any other mould). Act quickly because it hardens fast! Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge overnight.

After one night in the fridge, it hardened pretty well, though there was some milk residue on the corners which I blotted off with a paper towel. It easily came out of the buttered pan. Next time I will make half the recipe because it really only keeps about 2 weeks max in the fridge since there are no preservatives. But dang if it ain't a good American Cheese!!! :)

I got this idea from Larry at Deep South Texas. Click on the link to see his video!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Back Soon!

Life, cabin fever and writer's block are in play right now. Must be February! 😱 I'll be back soon!