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Thread: Is Anyone Here a Cheese Whiz?

  1. #1
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    Is Anyone Here a Cheese Whiz?

    A whiz at making cheese, that is... I just made my first cheddar cheese. It's setting out on the countertop growing a rind as I speak. I have a question or several that weren't covered very well in the recipe I was using.

    How do I know when the cheese is dry enough or rind thick enough to wax the cheese?

    Is the "cheese cave" temperature critical, or can it fluctuate a little?

    Do I need to turn the cheese if it's waxed?

    If there's no turning required, I figured maybe I could seal it in a plastic 5-gallon bucket and hang it down in the well. That would be the most consistent temperature control I can get (around 50 degrees F year round). The other option would be an ice chest in the kitchen with a frozen water bottle in it that I'd have to change out daily.

    Thanks

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    Friend of ours makes goat cheese all the time. I will ask for sure when I see him, but the well and that level moisture will be an issue.

    He uses a fridge. His cheese turns out darned good.

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  4. #3
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    Be interested in those answers myself. Made cheese decades ago, but can't find my notes from then.
    When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future: Edward Lorenz

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    Ok. He says, for cheddar, you want 52 degrees Fahrenheit and about 80% humidity.

    He uses an old refrigerator and has set it to as close to 52 as he can. He said humidity is an issue. He puts sponges soaked in vinegar water in the fridge. Vinegar helps prevent souring of the sponge. He suggested the use of a hygrometer to be sure where you really are.

    He said you can do it in a vegetable drawer, but clean it well. He heard of horror stories of nasty bacterial contamination and that was one of the reasons the well concerns him. Another is lack of real control and much higher humidity than he likes.

    His other suggestion is craigslist wine refrigerators. He said they can be adjusted very precisely and are small for most home cheese makers. His father used to use an old root cellar, but summer her was too hot and he had it go bad that way. 58 for cheddar during aging was as high as he liked. Max humidity was 85 and minimum was 70.

    He ages his a minimum of 1 month and likes longer usually.

    He said the bucket also was a concern because you actually want some aif low around the cheese.

    As to knowing when to wax, he said that was a trial and error thing, but better to let it dry too long than not long enough. In georgia he said 3 to 4 days usually.

    He also said there were some great books on it, but he could not tell me any names right now. He is older, and not a computer person, but he had seen some very good website plans to build your own cave.

    He suggested contacting local dairy goat associations and extension services. They will have area specific suggestions. Apparently it varies a lot area to area.

    Hope it helps. If not, I can try to ask m9re. He sold us a goat, and we are just about to get her bred. In February we should be starting our own cheeses.

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    Great! That's a lot of what I needed to know. Thank him for me, and thank you!

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    " Thank him for me, and thank you!"

    Ditto on that Red. Thanks.

    Always interested in a good book, if you could get the names of a few from him, that'd be great.
    When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future: Edward Lorenz

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  10. #7
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    I've now waxed my cheese and have it aging in an ice chest in the kitchen using a frozen bottle of water for cooling. Looks like that may be very inconsistent temperature-wise, but I'll see how it averages out.

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  12. #8
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    Now that the temp has had time to stabilize in the ice chest, it's staying very near 50F as long as I swap out ice bottles about every 12 hours. The chest is sitting in a corner in the kitchen in a controlled environment, so I don't anticipate much fluctuation.

    The second batch of cheese is now drying on the counter top, should be dry enough to wax by Friday/Saturday. I'll need to get a larger ice chest! The leftover curds from the second batch are delicious already, and they've only aged since Sunday. It may be hard to stay out of that stuff long enough to age for a month.

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    olfart, did you put a weight on it, to help drain excess whey? I have only done a quick cheese, curdled with a little vinegar, that hung up to drip out. I don't have anything to shape cheese in, so I haven't made anything more complicated, but it was good both times.

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    I built a cheese press and squeezed the whey out of it. Ten minutes at 10 pounds, ten minutes at 20 pounds, 12 hours at 40 pounds, and 24 hours at 50 pounds, unwrapping and flipping it at each change. It's a good, solid block of cheese now.

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