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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Big Cheese!

Yes, that's him, Master Cheesemaker('s assistant!) Extraordinaire.

The Kit!

Monday we managed to buy some unpasteurised milk and decided to (finally!  - we've had the cheesemaking kit for over a year) make some cheese.

We gathered all the ingredients, sterilised all the equipment, and off we went.

The milk had to be heated to just over 30 degrees C before adding the cheese starter culture and then the rennet (we used vegetarian, mainly because that's what came with the kit, but also because I don't eat meat).

After the rennet had worked its magic, we had to cut the curds into small squares, not as easy as it sounds because you have to try and cut horizontally as well as vertically. After that it was poured into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allowed to drain for a while. We kept the whey for making ricotta the next day, and the curds in the cheesecloth were put into the cheese press :-

It was a bit "involved" as we had to keep taking it out of the press, unwrap it, rub the surfaces with salt, re-wrap it and put it back into the press for a bit longer.  Eventually, it went in for the final time and we had to leave it for 16 hours.

Tuesday afternoon we "harvested" our very first cheese, this one's a Caerphily (I think that's the right spelling anyway) which we decided on because it only takes 3 to 4 weeks to mature.

And the finished object :-

So, was it an easy, trouble-free experience?  No and no!  But hopefully the cheese will survive in spite of us and our mistakes (and we did make a few!)  Will we make some more?  Well, the Master Cheesemaker('s Assistant) Extraordinaire has decided it's just a bit too fiddly for him - too many precise temperatures to achieve (he's a bit slap-dash and can't understand why it has to be just so), and a lot of little waiting periods where he doesn't know what to do with himself.  Which is why he's been demoted to Assistant, and I've been upgraded to Master (or Mistress!).

Now, can I get him to actually wait 3 weeks before eating it?

Well, maybe not!

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