Today’s post is about how to make cheddar cheese, and while it is not an “emergency skill” it does help feed a self sufficient lifestyle.
Cheese making came into being as a way to preserve milk without refrigeration, and was a valuable part of historical life.
Making cheese in the modern age is more about enjoyment than survival, but it does help build planning skills and patience, both of which are essential to emergency planning.
Making cheese is not hard, but it does take a long time for your finished and waxed cheese to age properly (6-8 months).
For the cheese making purists – this is actually called farmhouse cheddar. This is a recipe that does not need the additional step of “cheddaring”
“Cheddaring” refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, cut into cubes to drain the whey, and then stacked and turned
To make cheese you will need a cheese press, and while you can certainly buy one. I have a post on how to make a cheese press that shows how you can make one very simply and cheaply.
How to Make Cheddar Cheese
- Cheese press
- Slotted Spoon
- Large pot (stainless steel or unbroken enamel ONLY – aluminum or cast iron will produce off taste in product)
- Large bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Wooden cutting board
- 2 gallons milk
- 1 packet Mesophillic direct set culture
- ½ rennet tablet dissolved in ¼ cup chlorine free water
- 1 tablespoon cheese salt (or non-iodized salt)
Directions for Making Farmhouse Cheddar
- Heat milk to 900F (Goat milk to 850F)
- Add culture; stir well, let sit for 45 minutes while maintaining temperature
- Add rennet by pouring gently through perforated spoon.
- Stir very gently to bottom of bowl for at least 1 minute.
- You may also “topstir” for, 1 minute, the first ½ inch to prevent cream separation if using goats milk.
- Cover and let sit undisturbed for 45 minutes (until strong curd is formed).
- Cut the curd into ½” blocks
- Warm VERY gently to 1000F while stirring blocks gently. (Do this by placing pot into a sink of hot water and don’t let the temperature of the pot rise more than 20F every 5 minutes.
- As the curd heats, and is stirred, the curds will separate from the whey and the curds will shrink.
- Remove from heat, cover, and let curds settle for 5 minutes
- Strain the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander (save the whey for Ricotta and for baking – don’t waste….)
- Knot one corner of the cheese cloth around the other three to form a bag.
- Hang bag over pot for at least an hour.
- Once the curds have drained, put them into a large bowl and mix with salt as you break curds into walnut sized pieces.
Directions for Molding the Farmhouse Cheddar
- Firmly pack cheese into a cheesecloth lined mold, fold cheesecloth over top of curds.
- Any wrinkles in the cheesecloth will translate into divots and marks in your finished cheese.
- Apply 10 pounds of pressure to mold for 15 minutes (whey will drain from mold).
- Flip mold and apply 20 pounds of pressure to other side of cheese for 12 hours.
- Turn cheese again and apply 20 pounds for an additional 12 hours.
- Remove cheese from mold, and carefully peel cloth away, taking care not to rip cheese.
- Air dry the cheese at room temperature on a wooden board until a rind has developed (3 to 5 days). You must flip the cheese several times a day as moisture will collect on board if you don’t.
- Wax the cheese (or vacuum seal it) and age for at least 2 months –however, the longer it ages, the sharper it will be. (6-8 months).
* I don’t claim to be an expert in cheesemaking, this is just a skill I am working on for my own walk toward a more self-sufficent lifestyle. if you want more information, I suggest Ricki Carroll, of the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, and maker of some fine cheese making beginner kits.