Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Birthday Present

This year I got a cheese press for my birthday. Pretty lucky, huh? So, I've been playing around with making my first hard cheeses. I started with a farmhouse cheddar, an easy starter cheese without too many steps.

Here I am heating the cut curds to temperature in a waterbath:

Adding the curds to the mold for the first press:

After the first 10 minute pressing:

Here's what the mold looks like all put together:

After it's first 50 lb press. You can see it starting to firm up considerably as the whey is forced out:

Waxed farmhouse cheddar ready for aging in the cellar:

I chose red wax because I thought it would make nice looking holiday presents. The hardest part was cutting the block of wax for the initial melting. I bought a nice stainless steel bowl for it to live in, which I can use as a double boiler when I heat it for dipping. The nice thing about the cheese wax is that once you peel it off the cheese, you can reuse it many times.

The farmhouse cheddar only needs to age about a month, so we should be able to try our first cheese soon. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

What a cool birthday present! I like the fact that the wax can be re-used. You sound like a very frugal sort. Look forward to the cheese update.

Christy said...

That is so cool! I can't wait to hear how the cheese turns out. I have WAY too many things on my list, when birthdays or Christmas come around I have a hard time deciding on which things to actually get!

Robin said...

What a great gift! I enjoyed this entry a lot and I'll be back to it when I start reading up on hard cheeses over the winter.

Becca said...

That is soo cool! Your very own cheese! I might have to put something like that on my list for someday!

Shan said...

Wow! That is so cool, Maddie. And happy belated birthday to you too. :o)

Country Girl said...

What a great birthday present! Happy belated b-day! Someday I would like to experiment with cheesemaking. Great to see you posting!

Carolyn said...

Happy Birthday!!!

Cheese making is on my to do list!

Yours looks great. Be sure to let us know how it turned out!

homemoma said...

i love the present! it sure will make you happy for many years to come

Alex Polikowsky said...

wow!!!!!!!!!!So cool!
That is why you have been MIA.
I got the book but have not had time to do anything!
Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Madeline said...

So cool! And belated happy birthday. Mine is in twenty minutes. : ) I love this post. I've always wanted to understand the whole cheese wax thing and now I do. I am eager to hear how it tastes.

Danielle said...

Thanks to all for the comments. I'll definitely let you know when we taste the cheese—it will be a momentous event. Once Bella has her calf in February (fingers crossed, knocking wood, and all that good stuff) and I'm swimming in milk, I plan to branch out and try some of the trickier cheeses. For now, this was a good way to get my feet wet.

Madeline, the wax helps seal in moisture and prevent mold growth during aging, which is why some cheeses are waxed and some aren't. With blues and many soft cheeses, mold growth—the right kind—is the point.

Danielle @ Savor Culture said...

Beautiful wheel of cheddar! You must have been super-organized-- your photos are fantastic! I guess we'll be hearing about the results soon. :)

susan said...

Why did you decide on this cheese press? Did it have any features that made if better than the one that hoegger or caprine sells?

I'm thinking of getting one myself and was interested in how you liked your press.