Traditional Cloth-bound Cheddar Wheel - the biggest cheese I've made so far.

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LoydB

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
May 31, 2022
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Now days, 99% of cheddar is aged in a vacuum bag (I've got two smaller wheels doing this right now). Back in the day, however, they took cheesecloth and lard and formed a protective barrier that could breathe, but would help protect the actual cheese from molds.

Because this is intended for long aging, I wanted it to be large enough that it would not immediately dry out and start cracking (I hope). This weighs just a shade over 5 1/2 pounds, and used six gallons of milk.


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In the cave for a year.

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Sanitize those tools.

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Raw material

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I had to get a bigger pot to handle this much milk. My old brewpots are big enough, but won't fit in the sink.

1694610407634.png


So there's nothing to see during the process other than stirring some stuff in and waiting. The cultures and annato go in first, then after a wait rennet is added to coagulate the whole thing.

After a rest, it's time to cut the curds using a cheese harp and my slicing knife.

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Now I stir for 45 mins while raising the temp. Here's the curds starting out:

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And here's what it looks like after they've cooked all the way down and are being drained.

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Gathered up and drained for a bit longer.

1694610695292.png


The slab goes back into the warm pot, and the cheddaring process begins. Cut it into slabs, and every 15 mins or so rearrange them to put the tops on bottom. I do this until the PH of the curd is 5.4. This batch went way faster than the last batch I did, I'm glad I was measuring frequently.

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After the cheddaring is done, the slabs are milled into smaller pieces, and the salt is mixed in.

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Into the largest mold I have.

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Let the pressing begin. The first couple are just to get it solidified, then we start adding serious weight, including a heavy 24-hour press with a flip in the middle.

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First press

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Flip & Second Press

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Flip & third press

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This one is after a 12-hour overnight heavy (70 pounds) press

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Flipped it, and another 12 hours at 70#

1694611070021.png


Now it sat out with cheesecloth over it at room temp for a couple of days to dry the surface out.

(Insert a 3 week gap where I had it vac sealed because the compressor was out on my cave.)

Ok, time to band it. Whenever we get a hog, I render all the leaf fat down to lard. It gets used in biscuits, and to confit stuff, and anything else where they want you to use Crisco or the like.

1694611200192.png


The cheesecloth goes into the lard. It was heated to around 300 F, but really, it just needs to be hot enough to sanitize.

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Let the cheesecloth cool, then wrap well.

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You don't want any air gaps between the cloth and the cheese surface. After smoothing it out by hand as well as possible, I vac sealed the whole thing for 24 hours to eliminate all air gaps and firmly affix the cloth to the cheese.

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Final pics at top already.
 
Man that is so amazing! Never seen the cheese making process so this is so cool. Great post!
 
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That's cool! Thanks for taking us along and showing us how it works.

Ryan
 
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WOW, that is amazing!!!
Thanks for the very detailed explanation.

Side topic - What vacuum sealer and how big were the bags you used ?
 
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Reactions: LoydB
I love the sous vide idea for warming the milk! I plan to start on my cheese making journey this fall so will definitely be stealing that. I may hit you up with some questions along the way. Thanks for posting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LoydB
Thats so cool.
Nice job

I been thinking about making cheese but keep nixing it.

I want a freeze dry machine first.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LoydB
Now days, 99% of cheddar is aged in a vacuum bag (I've got two smaller wheels doing this right now). Back in the day, however, they took cheesecloth and lard and formed a protective barrier that could breathe, but would help protect the actual cheese from molds.

Because this is intended for long aging, I wanted it to be large enough that it would not immediately dry out and start cracking (I hope). This weighs just a shade over 5 1/2 pounds, and used six gallons of milk.


View attachment 675984

In the cave for a year.

View attachment 675985

Sanitize those tools.

View attachment 675986

Raw material

View attachment 675987

I had to get a bigger pot to handle this much milk. My old brewpots are big enough, but won't fit in the sink.

View attachment 675988

So there's nothing to see during the process other than stirring some stuff in and waiting. The cultures and annato go in first, then after a wait rennet is added to coagulate the whole thing.

After a rest, it's time to cut the curds using a cheese harp and my slicing knife.

View attachment 675989
View attachment 675990

Now I stir for 45 mins while raising the temp. Here's the curds starting out:

View attachment 675991

And here's what it looks like after they've cooked all the way down and are being drained.

View attachment 675992

Gathered up and drained for a bit longer.

View attachment 675993

The slab goes back into the warm pot, and the cheddaring process begins. Cut it into slabs, and every 15 mins or so rearrange them to put the tops on bottom. I do this until the PH of the curd is 5.4. This batch went way faster than the last batch I did, I'm glad I was measuring frequently.

View attachment 675994
View attachment 675995

After the cheddaring is done, the slabs are milled into smaller pieces, and the salt is mixed in.

View attachment 675996

Into the largest mold I have.

View attachment 675997

Let the pressing begin. The first couple are just to get it solidified, then we start adding serious weight, including a heavy 24-hour press with a flip in the middle.

View attachment 675999

First press

View attachment 676000

Flip & Second Press

View attachment 676001

Flip & third press

View attachment 676002

This one is after a 12-hour overnight heavy (70 pounds) press

View attachment 676003

Flipped it, and another 12 hours at 70#

View attachment 676004

Now it sat out with cheesecloth over it at room temp for a couple of days to dry the surface out.

(Insert a 3 week gap where I had it vac sealed because the compressor was out on my cave.)

Ok, time to band it. Whenever we get a hog, I render all the leaf fat down to lard. It gets used in biscuits, and to confit stuff, and anything else where they want you to use Crisco or the like.

View attachment 676005

The cheesecloth goes into the lard. It was heated to around 300 F, but really, it just needs to be hot enough to sanitize.

View attachment 676006

Let the cheesecloth cool, then wrap well.

View attachment 676007

View attachment 676008

You don't want any air gaps between the cloth and the cheese surface. After smoothing it out by hand as well as possible, I vac sealed the whole thing for 24 hours to eliminate all air gaps and firmly affix the cloth to the cheese.

View attachment 676009

Final pics at top already.
Wow, that looks amazing. I love the setup that you have, and pics showing the whole process. I have made several cheeses but I haven't made a cheddar yet. I need to build a cheese cave ASAP! I hope it tastes as good as it looks when it is done.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LoydB
Amazing process. And I bet its great eating.
I hope so! We'll know next Fall.

So amazing for sure! So much work too! Do you ever munch on the nice squeaky curds?
I taste throughout the entire process.


INCREDIBLE!
Thanks!

Thanks for the detailed process. Love making cheese.
I'd love to see you post some of yours in here, I feel like this forum been my private cheese blog for awhile :)

Man that is so amazing! Never seen the cheese making process so this is so cool. Great post!
Thank you!

WOW !!! That is amazing. I wish I had the tools and knowledge to do that.
Check out the YouTube links others have posted, it's not that hard to get started. The biggest hurdle IMO is finding good milk (non-homogenized, and not ultra pasteurized - though regular pasteurization is fine). I'm fortunate to have great raw milk available every weekend. The second biggest hurdle is getting a 50-55 degree F cave with 85%+ humidity. But there are a lot of cheeses that you can make without a cave.

That's cool! Thanks for taking us along and showing us how it works.
NP, I enjoy the process.


WOW, that is amazing!!!
Thanks for the very detailed explanation.

Side topic - What vacuum sealer and how big were the bags you used ?
Thanks! VP-230 with the largest bag it can handle - 12" x 16".



I love the sous vide idea for warming the milk! I plan to start on my cheese making journey this fall so will definitely be stealing that. I may hit you up with some questions along the way. Thanks for posting.
I love your process. Great idea to vac seal after the fat and cheese cloth. Well done my friend!
Thank you! The sous vide makes all the precision temperature control required easy. I tried the first couple of batches on the stovetop, and it's night and day difference. I use the vac sealer to apply uniform pressure and get rid of air on rolled charcuterie, this seemed a logical extension. When I was checking it today I was really happy with the places that the cheesecloth had overlapped -- they are completely flat and adhered to the surface.


Thats so cool.
Nice job

I been thinking about making cheese but keep nixing it.

I want a freeze dry machine first.
Thank you. I had no idea freeze dry machines were a thing at the hobbyist level. What machine do you want, and what do you want to use it for?

Wow, that looks amazing. I love the setup that you have, and pics showing the whole process. I have made several cheeses but I haven't made a cheddar yet. I need to build a cheese cave ASAP! I hope it tastes as good as it looks when it is done.
Thanks! The only thing that makes the cheddar tricky is that you really want to make sure you keep cheddaring until 5.4 PH. I've had this take a little over an hour to around three hours. What kinds of cheese have you been making? Please post some in here!
 
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