Whilst soft goat’s cheese, feta and other quick ripening cheeses are nice to have, let’s face it most of us like a decent cheddar. According to The British Cheese Board a mild cheddar is typically ready at about 3 months of age; medium matured cheddar at 5 to 6 months; mature cheddar at around 9 months, extra mature at around 15 months and vintage at 18 months or more.
As it matures the flavour develops and deepens. Personally I prefer a mature cheese, whilst Himself likes the vintage which I sometimes find a bit overpowering.
We eat quite a lot of cheddar, mainly in sarnies, so in order to enjoy some mature “cheddar” in the future, I’ve got to start now hence my latest project, making a cheese a week.
It takes me 3-4 days to make a “cheddar” from start to finish which includes pressing and coating. Each one is labelled and left to ripen in my little cheese fridge, which will very soon be full so I shall have to look for extra storage elsewhere. The first tasting is still a long way off and I’ll just have to hope that the recipe I’m using produces a decent cheese as by the time we get to eat the first, we’ll have a whole load of the same already made and awaiting their turn on the cheese board.
In the past I have tried bandaging my hard cheeses or dipping them in hot wax but now I’ve discovered a coating which you can paint on. Two or three coats and it almost feels like wax but is still breathable.
The only drawback is that each coat takes a while to harden. From my experience the best way to dry it, is to leave it on the windowsill with the window open and a good stiff breeze blowing – not that we’re short of a gust or two in these parts.
I think it will be quite some time before I shall be crossing cheddar off my shopping list.
- 5 litres goats milk (I use raw milk)
- 1/2 litre goats cream
- 1 cube previously made starter*
- 1.5 ml animal rennet dissolved 1/4 cup of boiled and cooled water
- 1 tbls salt
- Pasteurise milk first if preferred.
- Mix milk and cream and warm (or cool if pasteurised) to 21C and stir thoroughly.
- Add starter, stir well and leave for approx 1 hour in a warm place.
- Warm milk to 30C, add rennet and stir thoroughly.
- Leave in a warm place for approx 1 hour or until a solid curd has formed.
- Cut the curd into cubes and leave to settle for 5 mins.
- Very gradually heat the curd to 38C while stirring gently with your hand.
- Drain curd through muslin and leave to form a solid block.
- Cut the block into 3 and stack one on top of the other (known as cheddaring). Leave for 15 mins.
- Change the order of the blocks and leave for 15 mins.
- Cut the curd into small pieces and sprinkle with salt. Mix thoroughly so salt is evenly distributed.
- Put the curd into a muslin lined mould and press lightly. Leave for an hour.
- Gradually increase the pressure over the next few hours until maximum is reached. Leave for 24 hours.
- Take the pressed cheese out of the mould, line with a clean cloth, turn over and press for a further 24 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the mould and dip in water at 66C for 1 minute.
- Leave to air dry and then bandage, wax or paint with coating.
- When dry store in a cool place and turn daily for the first 7 days and then every few days.
*You can buy cheese various starters for cheese. I make the solution then freeze in ice cube trays until needed.