We get to make our own cheese. Now all I need is to grow grapes and my life is complete. Only joking… but I have wandered around cheese making for quite some time. We’ve bought rennet, moulds etc, and really I just need to get on with it. We did make a cheddar-esque cheese at home at some stage, and in actual fact, although we really didn’t have a notion of what we were doing, it tasted quite cheddar like, not a threat in the cheese production world however.
Clancy met the eager cheesemakers in the dairy, and we donned VERY fetching aprons. As I microbiologist at heart, and by training, I fully appreciate how cleaniness in this case is essential.
Clancy had put the milk on to heat, and had added the vegetable rennet and culture. As an aside, traditionally the rennet came from the lining of the fourth stomach of young calves, this was chopped and added to the milk, but in this case, and nowadays, the rennet is produced in the lab so we can look the calves straight in the eye when leaving the dairy (mind you – don’t mention veal!)
Next we removed, through a sieve, one third of the whey, and topped it up with warm water.
This is to “wash” the curd, and the warm water raises the temperature of the mixture higher, while our stirring mixed it intensively with the water. Clancy carefully monitored the temperature, and I timed the stages.
Then Clancy put “our” curds into clean mould “nets”, these were left to the side while all were filled, and then topped up, as even the simple act of sitting for a short period of time meant that more liquid had drained.
These moulds were then covered with a lid and weight. Clancy then instructed us on the art of turning the cheese (to reduce the appearance of elephants foot!). This looks a lot easier than it actually is. We all took turns at turning our cheese, and some kind co- students offered to further turn my cheese the two more times it required that first night. At the weekend it was un-moulded and washed in brine, and placed in the temperature controlled cabinets. Here it stays, and we turn it daily.
Cheeses that have been there for longer, have different coloured rinds.
Our cheese really needs to sit for 3 months before tasting. Not enough time for me to make wine to go with it, but I may just manage some cheese biscuits.