Monday, April 30, 2012

Finding Your Whey - May: The Hard Stuff

It's time to get serious about cheesemaking. This month we're going to be making hard cheeses! The first steps are very similar to last month's cheeses as we'll be using mesophilic culture to acidify the milk and rennet to coagulate the milk. These hard cheeses are generally much more involved than the previous cheeses we made. From start to end of pressing can take several days. I usually like to start making a hard cheese on a Friday afternoon so that I'm done by Sunday. Of course you don't have to be actively doing something with the cheese that entire time, but you do need to be around.

It's also time to add to your cheesemaking equipment the cheese press. You can purchase them from various online retailers but I've found the best deal at Hoegger Supply Company. You'll need to also make sure to get the pressure gauge so you know how much pressure you're applying. The other option is you can make one fairly easily. We made it and it cost about $30 plus the 2lb cheese mold I had to purchase separately. This press doesn't need the pressure gauge. Instead we use old gym weights we found for the press. We'll be aging these cheese for longer so you'll want to also get cheese wax and a wax brush.

I'll be making one of these cheeses with you (names that aren't linked can be found in Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses).

Farmhouse Cheddar
Monterey Jack
Drunken Goat


Good luck! This is going to be a lot of fun!


  1. I've been making mostly edible cheese for about a year. Caerphilly has been my most consistent variety of the different ones I've tried.

    The boojk you're citing by Ricki Carroll is my least favorite book. Debra Amrein-Boyes' book is much better and my latest favorite is Mary Karlin's "Artisan Cheese Making at Home."

    I leave the caerphilly unwaxed and don't wrap with any leaves. The tip about unwrapping the curd block for a brief second press to remove cheesecloth wrinkles is something I will try since some mold does want to settle into the crevasses.

    I wash and flip the cheese ever 2-3 days for about 3 weeks until the outside crust starts going soft. Then the cheese has both the gooey edge and firm center altogether.

    It's my favorite so far!

  2. Regarding the cheese press - do you recommend the plastic or the stainless molds?

    1. I have plastic molds but the stainless are easier to clean and don't scratch.

  3. My cheese press & other pertinent equipment are on back order, so I haven't started the May challenge yet.

    However, we will be tasting last month's brie later today!