Most cheese makers make mini truckles by chopping or mincing cheese in a bowl chopper, adding some distilled water and extruding it into fixed weights. We do not want to destroy the texture of the cheese, so we do not extrude or use already made cheese.
Instead, we take fresh curd from the vat at the end of a regular Wensleydale make and fill small food grade moulds with the curd, add a follower, then another mould and another follower until we have stacks of three. A disadvantage of not extruding is that we cannot make fixed weight cheese; ours
are roughly 200g each when cut in half, but they can vary.
The picture to the left shows the small grey mini moulds and the white followers. In the background are pots from the vat which will be pressed in 2kg wheels.
Each mould is placed in the mini mould and pressed using a vertical ram. It take about 24-36 hours to press the minis, when we take them out, cut them in half to make 2 x approx 200g minis, then we hand trim them and hand wax them.
We are able to make our little minis due to our equipment suppliers, Brytec custom making us a small vertical press together with some food grade moulds and followers. The press is connected to our large horizontal press, the one we use to press our normal 2kg wheels, with an air line attached to a small compressor.
None of us are overly keen on making minis: firstly, because they are tremendously time consuming and fiddly to prepare, filling
the little moulds and then hand cutting, trimming and hand waxing.
On the other hand, they sell extremely well in the shop, so when we make a normal vat of Wensleydale as we did earlier this week, we set aside 7 pots or so of curd to make mini Wensleydales for our Little Cheese Shop.