Recipe for Making Cheddar Cheese

Making cheddar cheese lets you control just how sharp your cheese is. All you need is a press and some cheese making supplies or a cheese making kit.

If you don't have a cheese press, you can also use a can large enough for the wheel you want to make. Cut both ends off the can, but save one of the ends. When you put the cheese in the press, put the saved lid on top and then put the weights on top of the lid.

Before you get started, be sure to avoid using aluminum pots and utensils. The acid from the cheese making process will dissolve the aluminum.

Ingredients You Will Need:
1 gallon milk
¼ pint heavy cream
1 oz Mesophilic starter culture
¼ tab rennet
1 tbs salt

Combine the milk and cream in a double boiler. Slowly heat the mixture to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the milk scorch.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the Mesophilic starter culture. Mix thoroughly, and then cover the pot and let it rest at 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 1½ hours.

Slowly heat the milk mixture to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While the milk is heating, dissolve the rennet in cool or cold water. Do not use tap water if there is any chlorine in the water. Use spring water or water you know has not been chlorinated. You can substitute liquid rennet for the solid rennet: Just use four drops per gallon of milk.

Add the dissolved rennet to the milk mixture, and stir until the mixture comes back up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the heat off, and let the milk mixture sit (covered) for about 1½ hours or until the curds show a clean break. A clean break is determined when a knife or your finger inserted into the curds comes out clean of curds. Whey will start to seep into the crack you made.

Once you have a clean break, using a long-bladed knife, cut the curd into ½-inch cubes. Start in the middle and cut, holding the knife vertically from one side of the pot to the other. Make parallel cuts ½ inch apart across the pot. Turn the pot 90 degrees, and repeat the process. Trace the lines you just made, but, this time, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle.

Heat the curds to 100 degrees Fahrenheit by increasing the temperature 2 degrees Fahrenheit every 5 minutes. You can use the double boiler, or a sink full of 105-degree water. Stir the curds every two or three minutes so they do not mat. If you are using the sink bath method, adjust the water in the sink as needed to keep it at 105 degrees. You can go up to 110 degrees if the process is taking too long or lower the temp if it is going too fast.

Line a colander with cheesecloth, and put it in the sink. Pour the curds and whey into the colander, and let the curds drain. Sprinkle the salt over the curds, and mix them gently with your hands.

Line the press with cheesecloth. Put the curds in the press, and press with four pounds of weight for 15 minutes. Remove the cheese from the mold, and cut the cheese into 1½-inch thick slices.

Stack the slices, and put them back into the mold, which should still be lined with cheesecloth. Make sure the part of the cheese that was on the bottom is now on top. Press with a 4-pound weight for 15 minutes. Remove the cheese, and cut into 1½-inch thick slices. Put the top of the cheese on the bottom, and return to the cheesecloth-lined mold. Press the cheese using an 8-pound weight for 12 hours.

Remove the cheese, and unwrap from the cloth. Mix a tablespoon of salt with ½ cup water. Using a corner of the cheesecloth, lightly apply the saltwater wash to the cheese. Air-dry the cheese (preferably on a bamboo mat) for at least two days, turning it over twice a day. When the cheese starts to form a yellow rind and is dry to the touch, it is ready to be waxed or bandaged for storage.

Let the cheese ripen in a cool, dry place at 46 to 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the cheese once a day for the first three weeks. After that, turn the cheese once a day, every other day for two to three months. For a more mature, sharper cheese, extend the ripening time.

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