Curdling up to a nice wheel!

After a few crazy months and a short break I’m back to telling you all about the things I’ve been doing.  I’ve been saving this topic for a while and keeping the photos handy because it’s such a neat project. That project is cheese making.  Mainly hard cheese making or in this case Gouda making.

I started making cheese about 2 years ago for the same reason I started

Milk at ripening

making wine.  I was always thinking of different combinations of food that I would like to try or herb I would like to add. It’s really hard to find all the different combinations you are interested in commercially.  Finding a friend who is a little crazy too who also making cheese is even harder it seems.  My only option was to learn to do it myself.  Cheese is actually extremely easy to make and the only real challenge is working it into your schedule.  Unlike baking bread cheese is a little high maintenance.

The whole process starts by, in my case, purchasing whole milk from the local store.  We have a milk share program

The curdling of the milk


in my area but it’s roughly $10 a gallon and I need 2 gallons ever once in a while.  Not exactly an investment I’m willing to make at this point.  The milk is warmed to a little above room temperature before adding the culture to the milk to ripen. After this it sits for about 30 minutes and let me tell you it smells amazing.

The next steps include curdling the milk and removing the whey.  I use a mixture of vegetation rennet and calf rennet depending on what I have around my apartment.  The heating and removing the whey takes most of the time in the cheese making process.  Most people believe that the pressing of cheese moves the whey, but it’s actually the temperature at which the whey is cooked that

Curd after the first pressing.  It’s rough and doesn’t look anything like hard cheese!

actually removes it.

Once the whey is removed the curds are allowed to drain for a little while before heading into the first pressing. Depending on the recipe you use it can call for a few different pressing weights.  In my case I normally press 4 times increasing the pressure with each

The 12 float in a brine.

pressing. The final pressing last for 12 hours at which you end up with a perfectly shaped wheel of curd.

Once the 12 hour pressing has finished the wheel takes a bath for 12 hours in a salt water brine. The first time I did this I was sure there was not going to be any salt taste in

Cheese just before going into the brine. and after the 12 hour press

cheese but I was wrong.  The salt level of the water does a perfect job of seasoning the cheese perfectly.  I’ve actually changed over to floating all my cheeses in a brine verses adding salt before the pressing stage.

Once the cheese has come out of the brine it’s ready to dry before being waxes.  Some people safe to store food. My plan is to purchase a wine cooler at some point and use it as a cheese cave to age an assortment of cheeses much easier.

Final wheel, ready to go into the fridge to age.









For frequent updates on what is taking place on the homestead please follow my twitter @smallhomestead I tend to post to twitter about ever two days or less with updates and new blog posts.  


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