First Cheese Making Class of February 2013

Andrew to the left and Darrall to the right

Andrew to the left and Darrall to the right

On Monday, we had the pleasure of Andrew and Darrall from Chorley; we had great fun!

Darrall cutting his block

Darrall cutting his block into cubes

Darrall and Andrew love cheese and wanted to learn the basics to be able to make cheese at home to mature and savour, so our task was to try and teach them as much as possible in a day to make them feel confident about doing just that.  It was a bit of an information overload, I think!

We set to and made a Wensleydale cheese.  It was a tremendously cold day which always has an impact on cheese making, it slows the make down so we have to make sure that our temperatures are running a little higher than normal.

Andrew’s vat was running a little faster than Darrall’s and there was a little bit of friendly rivalry going on.  Whilst I was helping Andrew and

Darrall testing the curd

Darrall testing the curd, looking like a true pro

Darrall, Stu was making our first Blue Wensleydale make of the year too in the small vat.

We added the starter culture at around 30 oC, ripened for an hour, then renneted.  The set took about 40 minutes, a little longer than normal because of the cold ambient temperature and we had a long discussion about which word we preferred to describe the set: Andrew preferred ‘clot’, I preferred ‘set’ and we pondered about ‘coagulum’.

We cut our curd into large chunks as it is always very deceptive as to the size of cut, because as the acidity gathers momentum, more whey is expelled from the curd particles and they shrink considerably in size.  I always recommend that you cut a little larger than you think as you can always cut smaller aferwards, but you can’t make the cut larger.  The smaller the cut, the firmer and less moist the cheese is going to be.

Andrew proudly holding his block of cheese prior to cutting it

Andrew proudly holding his block of cheese prior to cutting it

We stirred the curd for about an hour and twenty minutes until we had reached the target acidity.  When taking classes, I always try and encourage the person making the cheese to look hard at the curd and whey, notice the colour of the whey and the feel and texture of the curd, for in the absence of an aciditymeter, this is the only way to decide when it is ready to take the whey off.

We poured the whey off, through a sieve and both Andrew and Darrall made a very handsome, fine looking block out of the curd.  When there

A joint team effort potting up Andrew's freshly potted up curd

A joint team effort potting up Andrew’s freshly milled curd

was very little whey coming out of the block, we cut into small chunks, turned it around until it appeared fairly dry, then we salted it and ‘milled’ it with our fingers, making it into fine crumb.

And finally, Andrew and Darrall helped each other pot up their curd and we gave it a first press prior to them taking it home to finish pressing.

Both Darrall and Andrew plan to wax half of their cheese and naturally rind the other half.  I very much hope they will send us some photos of their cheeses when they are ready and that we will get some tasting notes!

Really lovely to have you both here with us, chaps, and thanks for helping with potting and clothing up the Blue Wensleydale make.  You were great fun and we hope to hear more about your future cheesey adventures!  And, as

Stu, Darrall and Andrew sharing a joke

Stu, Darrall and Andrew sharing a joke

promised, we will save each of you a Blue Wensleydale and let you know when it is ready.

Andrew proudly showing his semi-pressed Wensleydale

Andrew proudly showing his semi-pressed Wensleydale

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