Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homestead Skills: Making Hard Cheese

Now that the garden has been blasted with frost, I have time to make cheese. Our pure bred Saanan milk goats give us two gallons of milk every morning. We milk only in the mornings and let the Saanans feed their babies (plus any other goats that find the udder) during the day. We are milking 4 goats. I make cheese 3 times a week, on alternate days. 2 gallons (8 litres) of milk makes about 1 lb. (500 to 700 grams) of hard cheese. We go through a lb. of cheese each week so that leaves two lbs. each week, for putting by for the winter.

Robin made a cheese press so that I could create hard cheeses like cheddar, brick, and Monterrey jack cheese. Here's what it looks like:

The container is a plastic food safe jar, top cut off, that I punched with a heated knitting needle to create drainage holes. I line it with a curity gauze diaper (purchased just for cheese making). Place the drained curds in and press with an oak follower, turned by Robin on his lathe, from recycled pallet wood. The stand is a piece of plywood, sized to fit into a kitchen sink. The holders are a recycled broom handle.

The weights are created from new, clean, building bricks. Each brick weighs 5lbs. and 4 are needed to press a hard cheese.

My cheese recipe book is The Cheesemaker's Manual by Margaret P. Morris
This manual combines both the scientific and practical aspects of small scale cheesemaking. For both the home and on-farm cheesemaker!
Over 50 different recipes for fresh, soft, hard and washed rind cheeses. I like the fact that it does present scientific explanations and not just recipes. That makes it possible to do your own trouble shooting.

Another book I use is Mary Toth's, "Goats Produce, Too" which has recipes and is much more basic, but a good starting point.

Both are available from Glengarry Cheesemaking Supplies in Ontario. Glengarry is also where I get my rennet, and cheese cultures from. When kept refrigerated a supply of rennet and cheese culture lasts for two to three years.

Here's the curd in the mold ready for pressing:

Here's the cheese follower over the curds ready for pressing:

Here's the cheese press assembled in the kitchen sink, with the curds beginning to drain.

Here's the press with 10 lbs. pressure on the cheese. We put 10 lbs. pressure for the first 30 minutes of pressing. Then turn the cheese over and put 20 lbs. pressure for another 30 minutes. Turn the cheese over again and redress it in a fresh pressing cloth, then apply 20 lbs. pressure for 2 hours. Then finally turn the cheese again and press it at 20 lbs. pressure for a final 12 hours or overnight.

Remove cheese and brine in a saturated salt solultion (1/2 lb. of kosher or pickling salt to 1 litre of water.) Leave the cheese in the brine solution for 6 to 8 hours. Remove. Drain and Dry. Now its ready for waxing and aging for 2 to 6 weeks, up to 3 months before eating.

1 comment:

  1. how awesome! back in "the day" i had a few dairy goats and ventured into cheese making - nothing hard...just feta types....and I still remember the lasagna I made with that cheese. wonderful! I think I'll make this a guest post on my simple home living blog .....and link it back to you.