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Cheddar from scratch

Discussion in 'Cheese Making' started by Holly2015, May 14, 2018.

  1. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    In honor of Pops6927 getting cheese making separated from cheese smoking I present to you:

    Cheddar Cheese

    - 3 gallons whole cow milk
    - 0.45 grams of calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
    - 18 drops rennet diluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water (if using pasteurized milk. If using farm direct unpasteurized you can skip the calcium chloride)
    - 2 packets of mesophilic culture (if using non-pasteurized milk you only need 1 packet)
    - 3 tables spoons kosher or pickling salt.

    1. Pour milk in pot and put on a stove burner set to medium.
    2. Mix in the diluted calcium chloride if using
    3. Stiring frequently bring the temperature of the milk to exactly 85* and turn off the burner and remove pot from the heat.
    4. Sprinkle the mesophilic culture over the top of the 85* milk and let it sit for 2 minutes to rehydrate

    Note: When using a sous vide machine a kitchen sink can act as a double boiler. After the milk is heated on the stove to temp I move it over to the sink water bath set at 85*. Then add the culture and rennet as directed above. The big difference here is I do not need to cover the cheese pot as heat loss is not a concern as the water bath makes up for it, nor do I need to attend the water bath temperature as the SV machine does all the work.

    5. After 2 minutes stir the milk in an up and down pattern for 1 minute to mix in the mesophilic culture.
    6. Set timer or 1 hour, cover the cheese pot and walk away


    7. After 1 hour the milk is now acidified and the diluted rennet is to be added. Again stir for 1 minute to mix in the rennet. Set timer for one hour cover cheese pot and walk away.


    8. After one hour the curd will be set and its time to cut the cheese. With a knife you cut 1/4" slices the whole way across then turn 90 degrees and do the same. Then cut at 45 degree angle. You want to get the curds cut to between a 1/4 and a 1/2 in cubes. After the curd is cut let it sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.


    9. After resting the curd for 5 minutes it is now time to heat and stir the curd. Over the next 1/2 hour you need to slowly raise the temperature of the curd mass from 85* to 100*. With my SV machine I set it at 109* and right at the 1/2 hour mark the curd mass is at 100*. You will need to gently stir the cheese curd to keep it from sticking together and sinking to the bottom. About ever 1-1/2 to 2 minutes you will be stirring.


    10. Once the 1/2 hour passes and the curds are at 100* they need to keep at 100* for another 1/2 hour. This 1/2 hour process is cooking the curd. As you can see the curd is tightening up and getting smaller.


    11. After cooking the curd at 100* for 1/2 hour you stop stirring and let the curbs sink to the bottom of the pot for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain curds and whey into a strainer large enough to hold them. Once all the curd is in the strainer put the strainer and curd back over the cheese pot and let the curd drip/drain for 15 minutes.

    You can collect the whey for lots of other uses. Its great for making homemade bread also it makes a good plant food.


    12. After the curds are drained carefully (support it with one hand while using the other hand to tip the strainer) turn the curd mass onto a cutting board and cut into 4 pieces. The curd are very brittle so go at them with kid gloves.


    Note: Curd mass is about 2-3/8" thick at this point


    13. Empty the pot of any remaining whey and gently place the cheese curd wedges in the bottom of the pot, cover and float on a 102* water bath for 15 minutes. Then every 15 for the next 2 hours you will again remove the curd wedges, drain the whey. Then you will flip the curd pieces over and place back in the pot for 15 minutes more, repeat 8 times. This is the cheddering process that gives cheddar it unique taste.

    As you are cheddering the curd will compact and become more durable and shiny. The curd wedges will decrease in physical size by a 1/3 to 1/2 as whey is expelled from the mass.



    14. After cheddering you will remove the curd from the pot and cut into 1/2 cubes then place back in the pot for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes gently stir with your hands. Do twice more.

    Note: Curd mass is now reduced to about 1-3/4" thick



    14. After the 3rd time stirring the 1/2 cubes you will drain any whey (should be very little if any) sprinkle the salt over the cubes and mix throughly to evenly disperse the salt.

    15. After salting come milling the curd. Simple take cheese cubes between your fingers and grind into small pieces. Do not smear them, mill them.


    16. After milling the curds go into a cheese mold lined with clean cheese cloth and pressed at 10 LBS for 15 minutes.


    Note: Wrap cheese cloth over curds in a single layer and place follower on top of the cheese cloth. Now the mold is ready to be loaded in to the cheese press for the initial pressing. I place the edge of the cheese press over the rim on the sink and prop up the rear of the cheese press with a rolled up tea towel. The liquid then simply drains into the sink. You can also use a drip tray or even put a bath towel under the press to soak up any expelled liquid.



    17. After the 15 minutes carefully remove the curd mass (be gentle and its okay if it sort of falls apart) remove the cheese cloth flip the cheese over rewrap in the cheese cloth and back into the press at 40 lbs for 12 hours.


    18. After 12 hous at 40 lbs you will again remove, uncover, flip and recover then back into the press at 50lbs for 24 hours.

    This is after 12 hours and 40lbs of pressure. Quite a bit more compressed than the picture from the initial 10lb pressing.


    19. After 24 hours at 50 lbs remove from press unwrap from cheese cloth and place on a wire rack to air dry until the durface is dry. Anywhere between 12 and 36 hours depending on humidiy. I prefer to put a bowl over the top of the cheese to slow the drying process a bit to keep the cheese from cracking. Especially in the winter when humidity levels are low. In the summer its a good idea to loosely tent the cheese in cheese cloth to keep flies off of it.




    20. Aging. There are several different ways but since most of you do not have a cheese cave I suggest vacuum sealing and putting in you fridge for at least 140 days or if you can wait longer you can age for years. At 3 months the cheese will be creamy and good but not very sharp. Sharpness come with aging longer. Most report that starts around the 6th month. This is why I have been making a wheel of cheddar almost every Friday for the last 2+ months. I want to get a good stockpile so I can let soe if it got a year or more. I have also done some spicy cheddars using either dehyrated cayanne, habanero, and black pepper. Some have also been cold smoked

    A word on the Sous Vide machine. Yes it does make things easier but it not a necessity. You can still use you kitchen sink as a double boiler and use a kettle full of hot water to make temp adjustments to the water portion or you can put your cheese pot in a bigger pot with water in it for a true double boiler. What you can't do is try to make it directly over the burner as the curds will burn.

    A gallon of milk makes generates about a 1/2lb block of cheese. 3 gallons is the max I can handle. Honesly if I could handle 5 or 10 gallons I would. Even though there is more milk there realy is no additional work involved and you end up with more product for your labor. Also if you've been keeping track this process easily surpasses the 7 hour mark. For me it is an relaxing way to end the work week. Drink a few beers, hang out with my dog and make a wheel of cheese that I get to enjoy at a way later date.

    As for milk I predominately use store bought whole cows milk but lately a buddy of mine has a neighbor with a nanny goat that is producing milk. I have made 2 wheels of goat cheddar and working with fresh unpasteurized milk is a way different experience. The curds set up faster and firmer and its just better to work with. Reading on goat milk cheddar it is a bit drier and more crumbly verses cows milk cheddar. In 6 months or a year I'll be able to tell you if thats true.

    Also cheddar takes spice very well. So far inaddition to plain cheddars I have made

    Cows milk:

    Habanero cheddar
    Jalapeno cheddar
    Black pepper cheddar
    Black pepper/jalapeno cheddar
    Black pepper apple wood smoked cheddar
    Cayenne cheddar

    Goat milk:

    Habanero cheddar AKA Hot Goat

    I prefer not to be cheap with the peppers. The hot goat cheddar I made I used 25g of dried habanero. That equaled out about 43 dried habaneros in a 1-1/2 pound wheel. Some of the cheese have upwards of 45g of pepper.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent step-by-step, thank you so much!
  3. jaxgatorz

    jaxgatorz Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow.. That's a tutorial right there!! Anyone looking to make their own cheddar should definitely see this ... Great job on an awesome step by step...
    The_BBQ_Geek likes this.
  4. R Blum

    R Blum Smoke Blower

    I have been making my own cheese for a few years. I had a nice cheese cave which I made to keep things at just the right temperature and humidity. The cave took a dive and I will hopefully make a new one. Had fun making my own cheese.
  5. ksblazer

    ksblazer Meat Mopper

    Very cool.

    Looking forward to hearing how it turns out. Let us know when you try it.
  6. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Thanks for a great tutorial.
  7. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Smoking Guru OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Wow Holly. That's a fantastic post!!! Well written, informative, and lots of pics. Exactly what a great post should be like.
    Your love of the craft is reflected in your writing.
    Absolutely POINT worthy.
  8. Steve H

    Steve H Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Great write up! Point to you!
  9. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nice tutorial, very informative. Habonero is one of my favorites.

    Point for sure.

  10. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Family and friends have tried a couple cheddars at around the 140 day mark. They are delicious but not sharp. More of a creamy flavor and texture. From what I understand from around 140 days on out it will start to sharpen. I have a bunch of it made and starting in around July I'll start sampling some of the cheeses made in early January. Plan is to cut a 1/4 wedge out of the wheel for sampling noting flavor and texture. The rest will go back to age some more. Until I work through all the individual cheeses it should put some of the 1st samples out in 9 to 12 months range when it'll get sampled again and notes compared.
  11. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Gosh what a great cheese tutorial!
    I'm definitely going to bookmark this, and look into getting a cheese press!
    Thank-you so much for taking the time to write this thread!
    And congrats on making the carousel!!
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Holly, morning and thank you for the Cheddar making tutorial....
    How do you press the cheese with 40#'s.... 50#'s etc.... Do you have a special press or home made device ???
    Pictures of the press....
  13. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Standing ovation Holly! B
  14. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Wow I didn't expect all the great feedback. Hopefully I have encouraged other to delve into cheese making.

    As for the press it is homemade (see 17th picture down from the top):

    2 - 3/8" x 2" carriage bolts
    2 - 3/8 x 10" pcs of 3/8 all thread rod
    2 - 3/8" rod couplings
    2 - 3/8" wing nuts
    4 - 3/8" hex nuts
    10 - 3/8" fender washers
    1 - 1" x 3" x 24" oak board
    1 - small wood screw
    1 - cutting board at least a 1/2" thick
    2 - springs (this is the hard part to figure out)
    1 - 1/2" 1/8" x 6" piece of aluminium bars stock (this is the weight gauge)
    1 - cheese mold. Originally I was using a piece of 4" stainless sanitary tubing but broke down and bought a real cheese mold for something like $14. It was worth the investment

    To figure out what springs I needed and to make the scale (alum piece) I did a mock up on my work bench and used a digital bathroom scale to set the values. When I reached 10lbs of pressure I marked the aluminium where it intersected the wood then the same with 40 and 50lbs. When I get home I'll take a clearer pic of the press it'll make it more obvious.

    While spring presses are good I am going to make a simplified Dutch press as they are more consistent. They use a weighted lever/fulcrum design so even as the cheese compresses 40 lbs is alway 40/lbs. With a spring press as the cheese compresses the springs relax and the pressure reduces. To combat this need to periodically check and retention the press to keep the cheese properly weighted. Don't get me wrong a spring press produces really good results and takes up less space.

    Attached Files:

  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Awesome Step by Step!!:)
    Nice Job! Like.

    I'm not into Cheddar, but if I was, this is where I would go!

  16. Wow Holly, that is awesome. Not sure if I am up to making the cheese but I would consider it. Got some friends who I will have to share this with!
  17. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great thread neighbor!
    Hunting Ridge/Green Spring/Glaize Orchard
  18. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow! I never knew the process and have a much greater appreciation for people that make their own cheese now.

    "Like" for sure!

    What is the smell like when you make it? Should you be in a well ventilated area or???
  19. Geebs

    Geebs Smoking Fanatic

    Great write up, thats a lot of work that goes into that!
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's a nice press you made...
    1 Good Job.png