Goat's cheese
Goat’s cheese “cheddar” air drying

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.

My cheese fridge
My cheese fridge

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.

Painting cheese
Painting cheese

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.
 

Cheddar

  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Pasteurise milk first if preferred.
  2. Mix milk and cream and warm (or cool if pasteurised) to 21C and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add starter, stir well and leave for approx 1 hour in a warm place.
  4. Warm milk to 30C, add rennet and stir thoroughly.
  5. Leave in a warm place for approx 1 hour or until a solid curd has formed.
  6. Cut the curd into cubes and leave to settle for 5 mins.
  7. Very gradually heat the curd to 38C while stirring gently with your hand.
  8. Drain curd through muslin and leave to form a solid block.
  9. Cut the block into 3 and stack one on top of the other (known as cheddaring). Leave for 15 mins.
  10. Change the order of the blocks and leave for 15 mins.
  11. Cut the curd into small pieces and sprinkle with salt. Mix thoroughly so salt is evenly distributed.
  12. Put the curd into a muslin lined mould and press lightly. Leave for an hour.
  13. Gradually increase the pressure over the next few hours until maximum is reached. Leave for 24 hours.
  14. Take the pressed cheese out of the mould, line with a clean cloth, turn over and press for a further 24 hours.
  15. Remove the cheese from the mould and dip in water at 66C for 1 minute.
  16. Leave to air dry and then bandage, wax or paint with coating.
  17. 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.

Cheddaring
Cheddaring

Curds chopped
Curds chopped

Home made cheese press
Home made cheese press
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