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How To Make Your Own Aged, Hard Cheese … From Scratch

Image source: walksofitaly.com [1]

Image source: walksofitaly.com

Making hard cheeses is no more difficult than making soft cheese [2]. The curd-making [2], which is the soft cheese-making stage, can be considered the most difficult part of the whole process. For hard cheese, you have just a few minutes of work followed by several hours, days or weeks of wait time.

Before getting started making your own hard cheeses from milk, you will need some extra equipment. This is more specialized equipment so you will need to purchase some or all of it from a cheese-making supplier.


So let’s take the plunge into making hard cheeses! The following instructions will walk you through the process of pressing your cheese. The only differences you will find on the specific cheese-making recipes will be the different pressures required for that specific cheese type or if you are making a “blue,” or mold-veined, cheese. The latter will include directions for adding the proper mold culture to create the veined aspect of that cheese.

“Cheesemaking”: The Book You Need To Make Every Type You Crave [3]

Pressing Curds into Cheese

Image source: cheese.com [4]

Image source: cheese.com

1. Line the mold with damp cheesecloth.

2. Fill the cloth-lined mold carefully with cheese curds. (Learn how to make cheese curds here [2].) Pull up on the damp cloth to eliminate unnecessary bunches or folds. Press the curds down to fill in any gaps and fill to the top of the mold.

3. Cover the top of the curds with the extra cloth. Avoid making folds that might indent the top of your cheese. You can trim off the excess fabric so that it only overlaps by one-fourth an inch or so.

4. Place the plastic or steel disc that comes with the press into the top of the mold. It should move easily inside the mold without leaving an excessive gap around the edge. It is called the “follower.”

5. Apply pressure according to the recipe’s directions for the time specified in the recipe. The whey will ooze out of the curds as the pressure is held on the mold. Use a bowl or other container to catch the liquid.

6. When you have followed the directions on pressing your cheese, remove the wheel from the mold. Gently unwrap the cloth from around the wheel and place it on a rack in a cool, dark place away from drafts to let it air dry. Your recipe will tell you how long to let it air dry.

Congratulations! You have made your first wheel of hard cheese. When you have all of the curds pressed into wheels and they have air dried according to the amount of time specified in your recipe, you are ready to move on to the aging process.

There are three basic ways to age your cheese. However, all of these ways will occur between 55 and 65 degrees with 70 percent humidity. I know what you’re saying; that is inside the “danger zone” for bacteria production. However, that is part of what we want to happen. You introduced bacteria into your curds when you added cultures to your milk at the beginning of the process. You want those to grow and develop so that your cheese will have a more full-bodied flavor. One thing you need to remember: Aging is not storing. We’ll discuss storage a little later.

Aging Your Cheese

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Once you have your cheese prepared for aging or ripening, you have to decide just where in your home you can do this. Hopefully you have researched your new hobby and prepared a place for the tasty result you are looking to produce. As long as you have a place that is warm enough, dark, humid and completely clean, you have the perfect place to ripen your cheese. It can be a closet, a cellar or basement, a dedicated refrigerator, even a hole in the ground so long as it remains above 55 degrees and below about 70 degrees to promote the proper bacterial or mold growth required for the cheese.

Aging cheese is the hardest part of the whole cheese-making process. No one is perfect and mistakes can happen, so don’t be discouraged if you find portions of your batch have not turned out as you thought they would. There are many factors associated with making cheese and whether or not it turns out properly:

There is no “magic’ number for temperature, humidity or time and no set procedure to assure the perfect wheel of cheese. If you stick with one particular type of cheese, you will begin to get the feel for what works and what doesn’t when producing that cheese. As with many other homesteading crafts, practice makes perfect. like cheese-making, practice makes perfect.

Every Year Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here. [7]