Farmhouse cheddar is often referred to as a shortcut cheddar. It’s a drier, flakier style of cheddar, but it only requires a month to age and acquire flavor. It’s a great first-timer hard cheese because you can get some cheese satisfaction without waiting months and months. This recipe comes from New England Cheesemaking.
Servings: 2 poundsPrep Time: about 3 1/2 hours, not counting pressing time
2 gallons whole milk (goat or cow)
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter (or 4 ounces prepared mesophilic starter)
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/2 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
1 tablespoon cheese salt
Heat the milk to 90 F in a large pot. (Heat goat’s milk to 85 F.) Add the starter and stir thoroughly. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently in an up-and-down motion for 1 minute. (If using fresh cow milk, only top stir no more than 1/2-inch deep.) Cover and let sit, keeping the pot at 90 F (85 for goat’s milk) for 45 minutes or until you can get a clean break with the curds. Use a butter knife to cut the curds in 1/2-inch slices back and forth across the pot. (If you’re not sure the curds are ready, slice some then lift the curds with your ladle or spoon to see if the curds remain intact and hold their shape–if they do, they’re ready.)
Place the pot in a sink full of hot water and gradually bring the temperature in the pot up to 100 F. This should take about 30 minutes. For me, I don’t have hot enough water in my tap to bring it up to 100. I boiled a small pot of water and periodically (and repeatedly) added the boiling water to the sink water to slowly bring up the temperature. (Use only a small pot of boiling water–you don’t want to add too much boiling water at a time to the sink. You shouldn’t increase the temperature in your pot by more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Check the temperature frequently.) Stir the pot occasionally (and gently) to keep the curds from matting.
Once the pot reaches 100-degrees, cover it and let sit for 5 minutes. Line a colander with cheesecloth and transfer the curds to the colander. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and let the cheese drain in a warm, non-drafty location. Let drain for 1 hour. After an hour, place the drained curds in a large bowl. Remove the curds from the cheesecloth and break the pieces up with your fingers. (This part is messy, like making bread. You gotta get in there!) Mix in the salt as you’re breaking up the curds. Line a large mold with cheesecloth. Transfer the curds to the lined mold and press them down firmly.
Press the cheese as follows:
1. Apply 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. Remove the cheese, turn it over, and re-dress it in the cheesecloth.
2. Apply 20 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. Remove the cheese, turn it over again, and re-dress it again in the cheesecloth.
3. Apply 50 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.
After pressing for 12 hours, remove the cheese and place it on a wooden board to air dry for two to four days. Turn the cheese several times a day while it’s air drying. Wax. Age for at least one month.
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