On Monday, we had retired psychology teacher Alan come to make cheese with us. Alan had previously booked with us
during that (which one!?) very cold and snowy spell we had earlier in the year.
Stu was making a small vat of Tasty Yorkshire at the same time, so it was interesting to compare the progress of the crate system where we were making a Wensleydale with the more commercial sized vat.
As usual, we ripened the milk at 33.5 oC for one hour, (slightly warmer than we would normally, but it is so cold in our
little dairy), then we added rennet. Because our little dairy was so wretchedly cold, renneting took 50 minutes after
which we showed Alan how to test for set. There are many ways to check for a set: some people put the back of their hand on top of the milk – if the back of the hand comes way sticky, it is not yet done. I am not convinced that this method is that reliable. Another way is observe if the side of the curd has come away from the inside of the crate – this is more reliable as you should be able to gently pull the curd away from the sides and see the whey take its place. The method we use is to put a short, wide bladed knife into the curd at 45 degrees and gently lift the blade up to encourage a split in the curd. If the curd splits cleanly, without any small jagged pieces coming away, then your curd is ready to cut.
We let the curd settle for a few minutes after cutting as it is very delicate at this stage. After this, we stirred the curd for
almost two hours as it was very cold in the dairy until the curd cubes had shrunk significantly.We then took the whey off and made a brick shaped block, turning this until more whey was expelled until it was ready to cut into small cubes. The rest of the make went really very quickly and just 15 minutes later, we had added the salt and milled the cheese, ready to put up.
Alan has since been in touch with us and has already bought some crates from Solent Plastics, where we bought ours, some starter and rennet and is about to start experimenting making cheese at home. Now that’s enthusiasm for you! I am hoping that Alan will keep in touch and let us know how he gets on.