For Christmas this year, I got this cheesemaking kit for McGregor, who is 11 years old. One of the few foods he loves to eat is cheese so I thought it would be fun for him to see how it's made.
Last weekend we got the two gallons of whole milk required for the Farmhouse Cheddar recipe, and he followed the directions mostly on his own to get started. He heated the milk and added the rennet, let the curds form, strained out the whey, etc.
When he was about done, I hung it in cheesecloth over the sink to let it drain out completely.
The kit said to press it but we didn't have a cheese press so we weren't sure what to do at that point. When we were across the street for our neighbors' Super Bowl party, I asked Rita jokingly if she had a cheese press and she replied that she did! What luck!
I came over the next day to pick it up and she confided that she wasn't really sure what kind of a press it was (could be for juice, wine, cider, cheese, who knows) but that we were welcome to give it a try. The thing was big. I had to come back with the car for it.
Anyway, we opened it up, set the cheese still wrapped in cheese cloth, down into it and rotated the handle to apply pressure. More whey did come out. We left it in for 12 hours then flipped it and did it again for 12 hours.
When it came out, it looked a little bit like a round of brie. The directions said to leave it out on a wooden board for 3-5 days to form a rind, flipping it regularly so the bottom wouldn't get moist.
After the rind forms, you were supposed to wax the cheese then let it age for 2 months, flipping it once/week. I got some food safe wax at the store and melted it down in a mock double boiler then brushed it all over the cheese.
Once it cooled, I loosely wrapped it in wax paper and labeled it so we'd know when two months are up. It is supposed to age at 55 degrees and 75% humidity but unfortunately we don't have a basement so I don't know where we could do that. Might just have to age on the kitchen counter.
This has been a fun adventure. I see more cheese in the future here at Phillips Farm.