Finding a Cure: Pressing and Aging the Cheese
It's time to pull out your store-bought or fancy homemade cheese press, or assemble your super simple one (which will work fine for our purposes here).
9. Press: Assemble your cheese press by inserting the cleaned can into the stainless steel pot and forming a bag inside the can with the sterilized handkerchief. Then pour the salted curd into the cloth-lined can, and fold the tips of the cloth over the curd. Place one end of the can on top and press down. Place the heavy jar on top of the press. Secure jar with a rubber band -- the band should wrap around the entire contraption, running from the top of the jar around to the bottom of the pot. Let the press sit this way for about 12 hours.
10. Cure: Remove the pressed curd from the can and unwrap it. Salt all outside surfaces and rewrap with a fresh cloth. Refrigerate, replacing wrap daily, for one to two weeks or until a rind forms and the cheese is dry to the touch. You now have yourself a block of real homemade cheese.
If you'll be making some grilled cheese sandwiches or cheese sauce that'll use up your block in a few days, you're all done. But if you want to age your cheese for months, then you need to wax it. You can find cheese making wax at any cheese supply store. You just melt the wax and dip in the cheese. The wax dries to form a shell. You can re-melt the wax and use it over and over.
What you've got now is a basic cheese, made with very basic equipment. But this is pretty much the process you use to make almost any cheese out there. It's all a matter of varying things like milk type, temperatures, amount of stirring, and sitting and curing time. For instance, you'd use goat's milk for goat cheese or skim milk for light cheese. You wouldn't cure cottage cheese at all, while you could cure Swiss cheese for several years to make it extra sharp. You'll find lots of cheese recipes below in case you'd like to try a sharp Swiss, a Gouda, a feta or some nice, soft brie.
For more information on cheese making and related topics, look over the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Fankhauser, David B., Ph.D. "Basic Cheese Making." University of Cincinnati Clermont College.http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese98.htm
- Fankhauser, David B., Ph.D. "Cheese Press Materials." University of Cincinnati Clermont College.http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese_5_gallons/Cheese_press/PRESS_SETUP_00.htm
- "History of Cheese." History for Kids.http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/economy/cheese.htm
- "Rennet FAQ." New England Cheesemaking Supply.http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/106.html
- Toth, Mary Jane. "Making Cheese at Home." Countryside Magazine.http://www.i4at.org/countrylife/cheese.html