The following is an excerpt from “Homemade Cheese” by Janet Hurst (Voyageur Press, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 3: Culture and Rennet.
Another variation on the classic cheddar.
1 gallon fresh cow milk
1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic DVI MA culture
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1?2 cup nonchlorinated water
1 tablespoon noniodized salt
1. In a large cooking pot, warm the milk to 90ºF (32.2ºC). Add the culture and mix thoroughly with a whisk until the culture is uniformly blended into the milk. Allow the milk to ripen for 1 hour.
2. Slowly add the rennet solution into the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir for at least 5 minutes. Allow the milk to set for 1 to 2 hours until a firm curd is set and a clean break can be obtained when the curd is cut.
3. With a long knife, cut the curds into 1/4-inch (6.5-mm) cubes. Allow the curds to sit for 15 minutes to firm up.
4. Slowly raise the temperature of the milk to 102ºF (38.8ºC); it should take as long as 45 minutes to reach this temperature. During this time, gently stir the curds every few minutes so they don’t mat together. Cook the curds at 102ºF (38.8ºC) for another 45 minutes, stirring gently.
5. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the mixture to drain off the whey. Pour quickly and do not allow the curds to mat. Place the curds back into the double boiler at 102ºF (38.8ºC). Stir the curds to separate any particles that have matted. Add the salt and mix thoroughly. Cook the curds for 1 hour, stirring every few minutes.
6. Carefully place the curds into your cheesecloth-lined mold. Press the cheese with about 20 pounds (9 kg) of pressure for 45 minutes. Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. (If you want to make cheese curds, stop here and go to the following recipe.)
7. Press the cheese with about 40 pounds (18 kg) of pressure for 3 hours. Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. Press the cheese with about 50 pounds of weight for 24 hours. Remove the cheese from the press.
8. Place the cheese on a cheese board and dry at room temperature for 3 to 5 days until the cheese is dry to the touch.
9. Wax the cheese and age it in your refrigerator for 3 to 24 months. The longer the cheese is aged, the sharper the flavor it will develop.
Cheddar Uses and Pairings
Cheddar is versatile: it melts, it grates, and it can’t be beat on top of a piece of hot apple pie!