Friday, July 19, 2019

Sealing and Aging My 3-Month Cheddar

Hi Friends :)

After allowing it to air-dry for 3 days, I was able to seal my Cheddar. I was waiting on a new and wider vacuum sealer, and it arrived the day before I was to seal my cheese. As you can see, the recipe I made (see link above) turned out nearly a 1 kilogram wheel of cheese! My overall cost to make this cheese was about $18. The equivalent of cheese we buy (not Kraft!) is about $30, so it's not only cost-effective, it's homemade!

I'm not promoting any products at all; but wanted to share a quick video of the sealing process. By the way, a wide vacuum sealer is SUCH a good frugal investment. You can seal so many things and it preserves them longer. I even seal my coffee to keep it fresh because I buy it in bulk!

Some people wax their cheese, others will use an old-fashioned method of covering the wheel with lard then cheesecloth - and some lucky folks who have a bonafide cheese cave, may not have to seal anything! Since I don't have a cheese cave, I choose to seal my cheeses this way. It helps to keep the cheese from developing mold and so far, it's been a good option while aging.

The only cheeses I don't seal are the "bloomy whites" like Camembert. That needs 90% humidity and sealing it would crush it. But I'll talk about that when I make my annual autumn Cams! :)

This is MY cheese cave! We have a bar fridge and we have converted it to the cheese cave. Most cheeses need to age between 10 and 12 Celcius, so we adjust the temperature to accommodate the cheese aging process.

I used to worry so much about humidity but once the hard cheeses are sealed, I don't have to worry about humidity levels. I do keep a hygrometer in the cheese cave to make sure I have the right temperature though.

I have a handy schedule to remind me to flip the cheese weekly to ensure proper distribution of fats and flavour!

This weekend I'll be making another Cheddar and some Sour Cream too, so stay tuned for more cheesy posts! :)

If ever I see mold on the cheese, I'll simply open it up and wipe it down with a cloth soaked in salt water, let it dry and re-seal it. But honestly, it's not a big deal.


Sian said...

Thanks for posting this. My first couple of cheddars in wax developed mould and even though I scraped it off they were very dry and crumbly after 3 months. Did yours turn out nice like this? Thanks Sian

Rain said...

Hi Sian :) Thanks for your comment. I have rarely had mould on my Cheddars that are vacuum sealed. I've had a love/hate relationship with my Cheddars since 2017. They never turned out dry and crumbly though...but a lot of them were super tangy and some even inedible because they were so sour! My issue was the culture I was using. I'm no expert but from the books I've read, there are a few reasons why your cheese could turn out dry and crumbly. Too much culture, too much heat during the "cooking the curds" stage, cutting your curds too small or stirring too vigorously while cooking them (i.e. releasing too much whey), ripening too long before the rennet can be infuriating how many reasons there could be. One big mistake I used to make was to increase the heat too fast while cooking the curds, and that made my one of my Mozzarella cheeses very dry. I know that's not a great answer, but there are just too many variables. I hope you find yours. It took me over a year of experimenting to find the right culture for my Cheddar!

The worst answer that so many people give is "probably the milk" doesn't really help at all does it?

uscma said...

I vacuum sealed my butterkase after air drying for 3 days and now I noticed moisture in the vacuum bag. Maybe expelling g whey. What can I do?

Rain said...

Hi Uscma, I've never made Butterkase before! When I make my Jarlsberg, there is a lot of moisture in the bag as the carbon dioxide releases from the cheese to form the eyes. I don't know if that's what's going on with yours or not. It depends what recipe you followed and what cultures you used. I just briefly checked on New England's site and I read it's a washed rind cheese, so they don't say to vacuum pack it. Gavin Webber vac-pac's his, but uses different cultures.

Sorry I can't be of more help to you on this one. Why not join the and ask questions there? It takes a few days to become a member and sometimes it's slow to get a response, but there are some very knowledgeable cheesemakers on that forum.

Rachael said...

If I’m aging my vacuum sealed cheddar in a cool room, does it need to be “on” anything in particular? A plank or slotted shelf of some sort?

Rain said...

Hi Rachael, I wouldn't think so. I age my vacuum sealed Cheddars in the fridge, not on anything in particular. Once it's sealed, a slotted shelf won't be of any use because there is not air flow inside the sealed wheel!