Cheddaring

It may not seem like it from the resounding silence here this past week, but I have been busy, busy, busy!

I finished several sewing projects – including some pillows that have been waiting since 2007 – and Sofía’s Christmas dress. I remade some old wool socks into new wool knee-highs for Sofía. I finished her beautiful toy box and rubbed it with beeswax. I made more than 8 dozen cookies of two different kinds for the local mom’s club. (More on each of those in later blog posts, of course). And I made two two-pound wheels of cheddar.

Remember when I told you I was interested in getting that Basic Hard Cheese Kit from New England Cheesemaking? Well, I’ve been hard at work with it. It seems like Cheddar (and Monterey Jack, which we don’t use much) are the only two cheeses that I had time to make before leaving for Christmas vacation. And it made sense to get a head start on the aging.

The first cheddar was made with a simple hang-in-a-bag-then-press method – after you’ve made your curd, of course. (I think I overcooked it, since the curds didn’t seem to want to meld together as much as they might. Well, if it ends up dry and crumbly, it will still be cheese.) I used milk bought from Costco because that seemed to make the most sense economically – Costco’s milk is about a dollar cheaper per gallon than anywhere else.

But then I started to wonder about making organic cheese. It would still be cost-effective in the long run, since the price of cheese tends to be double the price of the milk it’s made from, in my casual local supermarket-browsing experience.

So I went to my local Mom’s store (My Organic Market) and bought a couple gallons of whole organic milk and made cheddar again. This time I had the knack of it and everything went much more smoothly. But then at the last minute, I decided to try the old-fashioned English cheddaring process, which you can read about here. With that, you slice the mass of curds and flip it over and over again on a cookie sheet in a 95 degree oven, then slice it and stack it and flip it some more. This process takes about an hour longer than the other one, but it’ll be interesting to see what the differences are. I hope I’ll get that dry, flaky cheddar with little salt crystals in it, so sharp it almost tastes like Parmesan.

After drying for a few days, both cheeses were waxed and labeled and into the unplugged basement freezer they go. It stays at 60, which is 5* warmer than it should be, but I figure it’s probably good enough. We shall see!

One Response to “Cheddaring”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    wow, have you been busy!
    can i have a taste?

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