Step 6: Crafting the Cheese
All cheesemaking follows the same basic series of steps. The differences in the resulting cheese depends on how you vary the parameters of any of the steps. i.e. how hot the curds are cooked, how long they are stirred etc...
I made queso fresco because it took the shortest amount of time to get a finished product. Many cheeses take months to age before you can even try them, this one is ready after pressing it overnight.
I started by making curds according to the recipe. When they were ready I put the press in the sink. I took a piece of plastic wrap and placed it over the base of the press. I put the mold cut side up on the plastic wrap. I lined the mold with cheesecloth and filled it with the curds. I ended up with almost 2 1/2 lbs of curds which filled my 5" mold right to the top.
I folded the cheesecloth over the top of the curds and placed the top plate on.
The wooden follower went on the top plate and I assembled the springs and bars onto the frame. I screwed down the wing nuts until the scale read 35 lbs and left it to sit overnight in a glass baking dish to catch any whey dripping out. I had to tighten it a couple of times as the curds compressed.
The next morning I opened the press, unmolded the cheese, took off the cheese cloth and there it was: a big block of cheese!
If you end up making this press let me know and post a picture in the comments. I'm interested in any variations/improvements that evolve.
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