Blessed are the cheese makers

One of the main attractions of visiting my family in the Hunter Valley is undoubtedly my sister’s Brown Swiss. What is a Brown Swiss you ask? Here is your multiple choice image:

Brown_swiss_q

Still wondering?

This is a Brown Swiss.

Brown_swiss_a

Snowysh

Snowy and young Sutton Hall.

With a calf at heel there is plenty of milk for both the calf and the rest of us. This has resulted in lots of fresh milk for breakfast, not to mention lunch and tea and all breaks in between.

Snowymilk

TB who has tried his hand at cheese making on numerous occasions couldn’t wait to have a go with Snowy’s milk. So last Saturday he started in with making a cheddar cheese. My not very technical summary follows but serious aspiring cheese makers should find a book on the subject, such as Cheese Making Made Easy, by Ricki and Robert Carroll. Another good resource is Cheeselinks which is an Australian supplier for cheese and youghurt makers. Budding local cheesemakers may also be interested in workshops offered by Small Cow Farm, 2011 classes are listed on their website.

Here we go. First take 10 litres of milk. Here is the starter, somewhat like yoghurt, which is added to the milk.

Hotstarter

Leave the whole lot in a pan in a water bath for about an hour,

Heating

and then the rennet is added, which coagulates the milk (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Readycut

After the milk coagulates you cut your curds, which gets rid of some of the whey out of the curd

Cutting2

the curds then sink to the bottom of the pot and are cooked at a low temperature for another hour (the temperature is only raised from room temperature to luke-warm).

Reheated

The whey is then drained from the curd and the curds are left to set. The next step is to cut the curds into slices – this is the actual cheddaring process –

Prefinalheat

Cheddared

the curds are kept warm and are then ‘milled’ or broken-up.

Drained

The curds are finally drained and put into a mould lined with cheesecloth (yes, that is what it is actually meant to be used for!)

Finalcurd

before being weighted down to expel even more water.

Weight

The moulded cheddar cheese is then dried for several days before the cheese is waxed and then stored for several months to mature in your cheese cave.

Here is some cheddar cheese that my sister made earlier. Her ‘cheese cave’ is a cooler bag, with ice brick, kept in the bottom of her linen cupboard (as was suggested by the cheese-making book she uses).

Cheesecave

 

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