Friday, August 30, 2019

Monterey Jack (Recipe and Instructions)

February 2020 Update:  After doing a taste test of some Cheddar cheese, I came to the conclusion that the reason my Monterey Jack didn't turn out (taste wise) was because of the MA11 culture I used.

November 6 2019 Update: I did a taste test, check out the video here! This didn't turn out quite like I expected, it's a good cheese, but not really a Monterey Jack.


Hello Fellow Turophiles! :)

Today I'm going to show you how to make Monterey Jack cheese. For a printable recipe, click here.

This cheese was brought over by the Spanish via Mexico and was originally known as Queso del Pais. It was made by Mexican Franciscan friars during the 18th century.

An American named David Jack realized its commercial value and started selling it all over California. The cheese came to be known as “Monterey Jack’s” or “Jack’s Monterey,” and eventually Monterey Jack.

I love this cheese because it's creamy, melts very well and is mild in flavour. I use it a lot in Mexican cuisine but also to make my American Cheese

Big Note: You can't do this one alone. After the initial making of the cheese, it needs to be flipped, pressed and brined every six hours for 24 hours. Unless you live on little sleep, you'll need a helper. Alex took over for me when I fell asleep!

A-whey we go! :)

Ingredients for Monterey Jack cheese:
(Recipe courtesy of Gavin Webber)
Yield: about 1 kg wheel

10 liters Whole Milk
1/8 tsp MA11 Culture **Note This culture really makes my cheeses very tangy so I won't be using it again. At this time (February 2020) I have yet to experiment with a better culture.**
1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
1/4 tsp Double Rennet
Cool filtered water


Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients
Stage 2: Caring for the curds
Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining
Stage 4: Drying and Aging

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients

1. Heat the milk to 90F or 32C in a double boiler. One degree up or down isn't going to ruin your cheese, but make sure it's not more than one degree!

2. Add the culture and let sit 3 minutes.

3. Stir well, then let sit 45 minutes to ripen.

4. After about 40 minutes, prepare your Calcium Chloride in 1/4 cup of cool filtered water. Prepare your Double Rennet in 1/4 cup cool filtered water.

5. Add the Calcium Chloride and stir for one minute. Add the Double Rennet and stir for one minute. Let sit for 45-60 minutes to allow curd formation (mine took 55 minutes).

This is how I set up my "sink" double boiler. I heat my milk in a double boiler on the stove, but until it's time to cook the curds, I keep the milk pot in the sink. I'm able to regulate the temperature easily by adding or removing hot or cold water. This is where a digital probe thermometer really comes in handy.

Stage 2: Caring for the curds

6. Check for a clean break. If your knife doesn't come out relatively clean, let the curd sit longer until it does.

7. Cut the curds into 1/2 inch cubes and stir gently (very gently) a few times to make sure there are no huge chunks then let sit 10 minutes.

My curd cutting knife isn't long enough for my big pot. The handle goes half way in when I reach the bottom of the pot. I need to get a better knife one of these days. This one is a cake icing knife I found at the dollar store.

8. Over 40 minutes, heat the curds to 100F or 38C. Don't rush this!

9. Stir for 30 minutes more, holding the temperature.

10. Let sit 30 minutes, holding the temperature.

Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining

11. Drain the curds into a cheesecloth-lined mold.

This is the amount of whey that is released. I use this to feed my cedar trees, they love it!

12. Pull your cheesecloth tightly around the cheese, making sure there are no wrinkles and put your follower on top.

13. Press at 30lbs for 1 hour. The Cheese Press that Alex made for me continues to be the star of my cheese making. It's so easy and I love his idea about using a large water jug as the weight!

After one hour of pressing, this cheese is very delicate, easily broken so take your time and be gentle!

14. Remove very gently, flip, re-dress and press at 30lbs for 6 more hours.

After 13 hours of pressing

15 Repeat step 14 for a total pressing time of 13 hours.

16. Place your wheel of cheese in a brine solution for 12 hours, flipping at the 6 hour mark. Keep the cheese/brine in your cheese cave during the 12 hours (50F or 10C).

Stage 4: Drying and Aging

17. Air dry the Monterey Jack for 4 days, flipping twice daily.

18. Vacuum pack the wheel and age for 2-3 months in your cheese cave (50F or 10C), flipping weekly.

With this post I've finally caught up with posting about the cheeses I started at the beginning of August! I have more cheeses planned for September - Fontina (2 wheels with 2 different cultures); Raclette and Goat cheese - so stay tuned! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Jarlsberg (Recipe and Instructions)

Hello Friends,

Today I'm going to post about Jarlsberg cheese and how to make it. This is the first time I've made a Jarlsberg and it's going to be ready for tasting in late September. I'll always do follow up posts when I taste the cheese, just to share the results!

Jarlsberg was born in the 1950's and is often mistaken for a Swiss cheese. It's actually Norwegian made in the style of a Swiss or Alpine cheese but it's a little sweeter and more buttery. The only other places that have licenses to make official Jarlsberg are Ireland and Ohio.

So again, I'm hoping the Norway people don't mind me calling my cheese a Jarlsberg!

Here are the ingredients and the process. For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

Ingredients for Jarlsberg cheese:
(Recipe courtesy of Gavin Webber)
Yield: about 1 kg wheel

9.5 liters Whole Milk
1/2 liter 2% Milk
1/4 tsp Thermophilic Culture "C"
1/8 tsp Propionic Shermanii Culture
1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
1/4 tsp Double Rennet
Cool filtered water


Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients
Stage 2: Caring for the curds
Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining
Stage 4: Drying and Aging

Stage 1: Mixing The Ingredients

1. In a double boiler, heat the milk to 92F or 33C. (Just a note: one degree higher or lower isn't going to ruin your cheese! But don't go beyond that one degree.)

2. Add the Thermophilic and Propionic cultures and let sit 3 minutes. Thermophilic cultures are cultures that can withstand higher heat that Mesophilic cultures. So when you see a recipe saying you can heat your milk at a high heat, the starter culture should be Thermophilic. The Propionic culture is used to make the "eyes" or holes in a typical Alpine style cheese.

3. Stir and let sit 45 minutes, maintaining the temperature.

4. After about 40 minutes, prepare your Calcium Chloride by mixing it in 1/4 cup of cool filtered water. Mix your double rennet in 1/4 cup of cool filtered water.

5. Add the Calcium Chloride and stir for one minute. Add the rennet and stir for one minute. Let sit for 45 minutes, holding the temperature at 92F or 33C.

Stage 2: Caring for the curds

6. Check for a clean break. If you knife comes out relatively clean, it's a clean break.

7. Cut the curds in small 1/4 inch pieces. The best way to do this is to use a balloon whisk in an up and down/side to side and scooping motion. Be very gentle when you cut the curds.

8. Stir the curds very gently for 20 minutes, holding your 92F or 33C temperature. Let sit 5 minutes.

9. During the stirring, prepare about 5 liters of water in a pot and heat it to 120F or 49C.

10. Using a strainer and a ladle, remove enough whey to reach the level of the curds.

11. Stir the curds for about a minute to make sure they don't stick together.

12. Pour enough of your hot water into the curds to reach the level where the whey used to be. This is called washing the curds. Your temperature should be around 100F or 38C.

13. Over 30 minutes, very slowly increase the temperature of the curds to 108F or 42C. Stir very gently and don't rush this process because you are encouraging the curds to release whey slowly. (sorry no photo!)

14. When you've reached 108F or 42C, allow the curds to sit for 5 minutes.

Stage 3: Molding, Pressing and Brining

15. Drain the curds into a cheesecloth-lined mold. Make sure the cheesecloth isn't wrinkly, pull tight then put on the follower and press at 24 pounds for 30 minutes.

This is the cheese after the first 30 minutes of pressing.

16. Gently remove the cheese from the mold and cheesecloth, flip, re-cover and press at 50 pounds for 8 hours.

This is the cheese after the full 16-1/2 hours of pressing.

17. Again, gently remove the cheese from the mold and cheesecloth, flip, re-cover and press at 50 pounds for another 8 hours.

18. Remove the wheel from the mold and cheesecloth, and brine for 12 hours, flipping it over at the 6 hour mark. Keep the cheese brining in your cheese cave (50F or 10C).

Stage 4: Drying and Aging

After air drying for a few days, you can see the cheese starting to release fats.

19. Air dry your cheese for 3 days, flipping twice a day.

20. Vacuum pack the wheel and age for 2 weeks in your cheese cave (50F or 10C), flipping daily.

21. After the 2 weeks, remove the cheese from the cheese cave and continue to age it at room temperature for 4-6 weeks, flipping it twice a week. **My kitchen gets cool at night so I put a towel on top of the cheese to keep it closer to room temperature.

Note: Finishing the aging at room temperature is supposed to encourage the "eyes" or holes to form in the cheese. As the cheese develops at room temperature, it will swell up, you'll see it swell as the eyes form on the inside. It could crack your wax or your seal, just re-seal it if that happens!

Note: Some cheeses require a lot of your time at odd hours. This was one of them! I started this cheese at around 10am and by 11pm I was just on step 17, flipping the cheese for another 8 hour press. It's important to really read the recipe, or watch a video in completion so you can estimate timing for each step and you're not forced to stay up past your bedtime or wake up at 4am to flip your cheese!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cheese Making Equipment

Hi Friends,

Today's post is all about tools - a follow up to my previous post Cheese Making Ingredients.

I mentioned in my previous post that I lost my cheese making mojo back in 2017. Recently though, Alex made me a cheese press and that re-awakened my passion for cheese making. I invested in better molds and all new ingredients. Since restarting my cheese making, I can really see, feel and smell a difference in the cheeses I'm making compared to the last time! Having the proper tools is SO important!

I also mentioned that cheese making is an investment. Initially it costs money to get all of the equipment and ingredients. But once you have everything, your only cost is milk. The equipment pretty much lasts forever as long as you take care of it. 

As per the diagram I made above, cheese making falls into roughly four stages and I'll show you the equipment I use for each stage. For a printable list, click here.

1. Mixing the ingredients

Double boiler and pot large enough to accommodate your milk and extra liquid. 12 liter pots are good for most recipes though a 16 liter pot would also come in handy for larger cheeses. Most of the recipes I use call for 8-10 liters of milk. A 12-liter pot is needed because you always add extra liquid with your additives. I use my canning pot as the double boiler and it works very well.

Sink. I know most people have sinks! But I wanted to mention it because I use my sink in all of my cheese making. After I heat up the milk in the double boiler, I transfer my pot to the sink to maintain the temperature that way by adding or removing hot/cold water.

Thermometer. A good digital probe thermometer is your best friend in cheese making. Make sure you have back up batteries! I also suggest a little binder clip, it helps to hold your thermometer in place on the pot.

Slotted Spoon. You need the slotted spoon for mixing the ingredients and cooking the curds to evenly incorporate your additives and to make sure the temperature of your milk is even. 

Measuring tools and dishes. To measure your additives and mix them with cool filtered water.

2. Caring for the curds

Balloon whisk and curd knife. The whisk and curd knife are used to cut the curd after it's formed.

Cheesecloth and colander. A good quality cheesecloth will last a long time, I bought mine in 2017 and use it over and over. Here's a tip, spray your cheesecloth with a light spritz of vinegar to keep the curds from sticking. Also...ALWAYS rinse your cheesecloth in cold water first to remove all debris, if you start off with hot water, you'll cook your curds into the cheesecloth, making it difficult to remove them.

3. Molding, Pressing and Brining

Molds and Followers. It's nice to have molds of different sizes. Certain cheeses, like Camembert and Brie, require specialty molds that are like cylinders. Followers are the tops of the molds that help push down evenly on the cheese during pressing. Some followers are flat, I like this shape much better.

Cheese Press. I used to use a breadboard with dumbbells on top and it just didn't do the job. Alex made me a Cheese Press (click for the instructions) and it works perfectly. 

Brining Container large enough to fit your wheels of cheese. I got this at the dollar store. I am still on the lookout for a circular shaped brining container that is big enough to fit my wheels of cheese, but I'm cheap, so if the dollar store doesn't have it, I can live without it.

4. Drying and Aging

Bamboo mats, plastic mesh mats. These are necessary when drying and ripening your cheese because they allow ventilation and help your wheel from sitting in a pool of whey. Bamboo mats can be found at your local grocery store near where they have the Sushi.

Mesh food covers. These are simply dollar store food covers. They keep dust and contaminants off your cheese as it dries. These only show up in the spring because they're marketed as "picnic" covers.

Ripening Box. Simply a plastic box with a cover that is large enough to hold your wheel of cheese - again, dollar store. See my post on Parmesan Cheese on how to put together a ripening box.

Vacuum sealer or wax. I choose to seal my cheeses. I have wax, but never used it. When I used to buy waxed cheeses at the market, I always found I tasted the wax when I opened the cheese. Even leaving it to air out a while didn't help, so I kind of got turned off of wax. Maybe one day I'll try it because the wax I bought is transparent, which is supposed to keep odours away. Sealing your cheese will also cause a strong ammonia odour when you open it. It's always recommended that you allow your cheese to air out for a while before eating it after it's been sealed. This goes for grocery store cheese too. 

If you invest in a vacuum sealer (and everyone should for all sorts of food preservation!), make sure it's a wide one, I have a 12-inch sealer now because my old 8-inch sealer wasn't big enough to fit my wheels of cheese. Another reason my cheeses failed back in 2017 was because I had to cut them in half to seal them. This caused way too much mould growth and I couldn't keep up with brushing it off.

Note: I got bamboozled into buying a "cheese coating" from a not so reputable company back in 2017. DON'T USE IT. It makes your cheese taste like chemicals. I wasted FOUR Cheddars learning this lesson!

Small brush. This is another dollar store buy, it's used to brush off mould from the cheese wheel during the aging process.

Hygrometer/thermometer. I use this in the cheese cave to make sure I maintain the aging temperature required for my cheeses. It also comes in handy to measure the humidity in the ripening box.

Cheese cave. The most essential and the largest investment if you don't already have a little bar fridge! I dream of an underground mouse-proof cheese cave, but I doubt that'll ever happen! So having a small refrigerator makes up for it. I have it at the lowest setting so that it maintains the right temperature.

Specialty Equipment That I Have (Optional)

PH Meter. This is necessary to make Mozzarella. The Mozzarella will not stretch unless it reaches a certain PH. If it doesn't stretch, you basically have a lump of curd. I failed SIX, count 'em SIX times in 2017 before I bought a PH meter. I was following a recipe that assured me I could find that sweet stretch spot by simply doing a stretch test every half hour. Didn't work. The seventh time with the PH meter though...see for yourself:

My Mozzarella stretched! Some people use PH strips but I couldn't find any at the time. The first PH meter I bought was cheap, $19.99 and it died after one use. Do your research on this one if you intend to make a Mozzarella!

Distilled Water. This is to clean your PH meter probe and to use when calibrating it. For some ungodly reason, I can't find distilled water here in Quebec. But they offer this "demineralized" version that's supposed to be the same.

Food Grade Gloves: Essential when making Pasta Filata, also known as “stretched curd cheese" such as Mozzarella. These gloves keep my hands from burning during the stretching of the Mozzarella. Dish gloves won't cut it! As you can see in the above photo when I'm stretching the cheese, I used dish gloves to stretch my Mozzarella when it was hitting 82C or 180F...I kept having to dunk my hands into ice water that Alex kept replenishing for me! I bought the food grade gloves after that experience! Ouch.

Soft Cheese Paper. This is used to wrap soft cheeses like Camembert and Brie. It's a specialty wrapping paper that allows the cheese to breathe as it ages.

I use it to wrap my Cams. If you intend to make soft cheeses, just make sure you buy the LARGEST size of these papers. I made that mistake too! I had to tape 4 smaller ones together and it was a pain in the butt!

Heating Pad. For yogurt making you need to keep your yogurt warm while it incubates for 8 hours. I've been successful using a heating pad on the medium setting for this purpose.

This is just a suggestion: MAKE CHARTS. When you make a lot of cheese like I do, it's VERY easy to get mixed up when you are trying to remember the flipping schedule and aging time. I also use an online calendar to remind myself to flip the cheeses when they need to be flipped!

Patience, time and passion are also essential. You can't rush the cheese making process so you have to make time for it. We all have fails, so patience and passion will help you to keep trying!

Resources (not for promotion):

In Canada: Glengarry Cheese Making I really love this company, the owner is wonderfully knowledgeable and has happily answered many questions I had about cheese making. I'm so glad I found them! Finding a good, helpful and reputable cheese making company is like finding a good vet or a good mechanic.

Personal note: I'm not a fan of New England. I got horrid customer service there, but that is just my own experience. Many people love that company. I still go to their website as a resource to learn about different equipment and ingredients, but I buy from Glengarry in Ontario, Canada.

If you have any questions, please ask. I will answer them the best that I can! Just remember I'm not a professional, I just love to make cheese at home! :)