Monday, January 26, 2009

Cheese Fest

It's been a cheese-making festival around here. I've been making a number of cheeses lately, taking my ideas and recipes from Ricki Carroll's "Home Cheese Making" book. Starting out with a simple recipe called Farmhouse Cheddar, I practiced by making about 4-5 one-pound blocks of it. One of them has hot pepper spice added to it, that one should be really good.

It is supposed to age for at least 4 weeks, but my son and I got impatient at the 3-week mark and broke one open. Though you could tell that it was a bit immature, it was starting to develop that slight acidic bite that some cheeses have. It is also a bit flakier/more crumbly than regular cheddar, but was it oh-so-good! My son and I ate a half-pound one evening, and another half-pound a few days later.

After making a number of Farmhouse Cheddar batches, I made several pounds of gouda. There are a couple of differences in making gouda versus cheddar. For one, you 'wash the curds' as it is called. After cutting the curds into about 1/2 inch cubes and heating to about 100 degrees, you replace the whey with warm water. This is done 3 times before the curds are drained and pressed. Also, after the cheese is pressed, it is soaked in a strong brine for anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, depending on the recipe you follow.

I plan on eating at least one of the blocks of gouda after 4 weeks, but also plan on aging one for 6 months. I LOVE aged gouda and now know why it is so stinkin' expensive.

My camera is still broken, sigh... However I have another digicam that is really cheap but will suffice in a pinch, and I was able to get a few pictures of the process.

This is my high-tech cheese press. The molds are PVC pipe, the weights are free-weights, and the pot is a large stock pot that I have.
This is a 1-lb. block of gouda after being removed from the mold, and ready to be soaked in the brine.

This is the gouda while soaking in a strong brine for 12 hours.

Another picture of my high-tech cheese press. Don't knock it, it works great.

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