Instructables

Cheese Making - Hard Cheeses

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Picture of Cheese Making - Hard Cheeses
I started making cheese several years ago. I began with the soft fresh cheeses like cream cheese, queso blanco, and mozzarella, but after a while I wanted more. I began to research the hard cheeses like Cheddar, Gouda, Jack, and Swiss.
The main differences between the soft and hard cheeses is that hard cheese require a cheese press and cultures.

Cheese making is a commitment and requires a lot of patience. It's also an investment that requires several specialty items not available at your local store.  Be prepared if you want to attempt it. If you try to take shortcuts you could end up with an inferior product.

It's also very fun and rewarding, especially with the high cost of specialty cheeses.
 
 
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Step 1: Useful links


Here are some links I found to be helpful and informative.

This is a great forum with very experienced members. You'll find a lot of answers to your questions here.
http://www.rickandlynne.com/rick/go/forums/viewforum/7/

A good site for a beginners. You can get recipes, ingredients, and equipment here.
http://www.cheesemaking.com/

I have this book, it's very good.
http://www.cheesemaking.com/HomeCheeseMakingbook.html

I buy my cultures here. You have to buy more culture but its cheaper overall.
http://www.dairyconnection.com/default.jsp

Good site with info and recipes.
http://fiascofarm.com/dairy/index.htm

A google search of cheese making will give you a ton of information.

Step 2: Equipment and Ingredients Required

What's required for making hard cheeses? Here's a list of what you will need to make a hard cheese.

Milk
Whole milk, the more fat content the more cheese you get. 2 gallons of milk will get you about a 2lb wheel of cheese.

Rennet
Rennet is needed to separate the curds and whey. I recommend liquid animal rennet. Its much easier to use and measure than the tablet rennet.

Cultures
You will need a culture to ripen and flavor the cheese you want to make. Without it, you will have a basic white cheese. Today we are using a mesophilic starter.

Salt
A lot of places tell you to buy cheese salt. Its a flaked salt and melts easy, but its expensive and I haven't had a problem with regular salts. Just make sure you buy NON-iodized salt.  This costs about 50 cents.

Thermometer
You will need a good accurate thermometer. I use a lab grade glass thermometer.

Calcium Chloride
Store bought milk is homogenized and it affects the calcium in the process. Usually sold in a 30% solution. If you can find it in powder form you can make your own.

Double Boiler
You don't want to put milk directly on the heat, a double boiler is needed to prevent scalding. Your pot should also be large enough to hold 2 gallons of milk.

Cheese Press
You will need to press your cheese. In the next step I'll go over how I built my cheese press.

Cheese molds
Not the bad kind of mold. I'm talking about a container to shape your cheese. You can buy them. I made some out of a plastic bucket. All you need to do is remove the bottom and put a bunch of holes in it. Save the bottom you cut off to use it as a runner.
My container is tapered, which has worked fine but a straight one would work best.

Cheese cloth
This is not what you are thinking. That white mesh you can buy in the grocery store labeled cheese cloth is worthless in cheese making.  What you need is called butter muslin. A fine woven reusable cloth. I've used cotton cloth, like T-shirt material before, it works fine.

Cheese wax
Some cheese age for several months to years. To keep the cheese from drying out, you wax it.  Don't try to wax your cheese with paraffin wax.  It's not the same and won't work well.

Cheese Cave
If you really get into cheese making you will need a place to age your cheese. Cheese is stored around 45-60 degrees.  A cool basement works if you have one. People use wine refrigerators as well.



Step 3: The Cheese Press

Picture of The Cheese Press
Press.jpg
drain.jpg
A cheese press is absolutely necessary for hard cheeses.  I built my own cheese press using the info here.  http://fiascofarm.com/dairy/cheesepress.html
It's a pretty easy project to do.
Here's another one from instructables: A Simple and Inexpensive Cheese Press

Other things you will need:
Up to 50lb of weight for the press. I use barbell weights.
Some kind of pan for the whey to drip from. I use a metal pie dish that I cut a piece out of.

Step 4: Before You Start

A few things to do before you start.

Take your milk out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temp. This will speed up the heating of the milk later.

IMPORTANT - Before you begin, anything you are using that will come in contact with the cheese must be sterilized.  The biggest problem I've had with cheese making is MOLD.  I boil everything I use before making cheese, every bowl, every spoon, BOIL EVERYTHING.

Boil everything in a covered pot for at least 15 minutes. Make sure what you are boiling won't melt.

Step 5: Warming The Milk

Today we are going to make Jack cheese.

Start with 2 gallons of whole milk.

Since you do not want to put your milk on direct heat, you will need to use a double boiler. I put my pot into a larger pot containing water and a small cooling rack so the pots don't touch.

You will also need your thermometer now.

Pour your milk into your pot and heat it to 88 degrees F. You want to heat the milk very slowly, keep the stove on the lowest setting.

DO NOT try to heat the milk faster by increasing the temperature. If the milk gets too hot you could scald it. It will also have to cool down before you can continue.

If you think waiting for milk to heat up takes too long, try waiting for milk to cool down.

Step 6: Ripening the Milk

Once the milk has reached 88 degrees its time to add the cultures.

Since I buy my cultures in bulk, I add 1/4 teaspoon of mesophilic culture to the milk. If you buy the small packets you would add the whole thing.  Allow the culture to float on the top of the milk for a minute.

Using a slotted spoon stir the milk thoroughly and let the culture ripen in the milk at 90 degrees for 30 minutes.

Keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn't go past 90 degrees.

Step 7: Separating the Curds and Whey

Picture of Separating the Curds and Whey
rennet.JPG
After the milk has ripened it needs to be coagulated to separate the curds (cheese) and whey (not cheese).

If you are using store bought milk, now's the time to add the calcium chloride.  Add 3/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of water.  Mix well.  If you don't add the calcium chloride, your milk will not coagulate and you will be stuck with a large batch of queso fresco.

Next, it's time to add the rennet.  Dilute 1/2 teaspoon into 1/4 cup water.  Mix very well with an up and down motion for 1 minute.
You dilute it in water to help disperse it. You don't want uneven coagulation.

Cover the milk and let it set at 90 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Remember to keep an eye on the temperature, it must remain at 90 degrees for the coagulation to occur.

Step 8: Cutting the Curds

After 30-45 minutes the milk should have gotten solid, almost like jello.  To determine if it is ready you must test it to see if it gives a clean break.  This is done by inserting a clean finger or thermometer into the curd at a 45 degree angle and lifting up.  If the curd splits cleanly around the thermometer or finger then you have a clean break and the curds are ready for cutting.  If the curds are too soft and mushy let the milk set longer.

To cut the curds, take a long knife and insert it into the curds all the way to the bottom of the pot. Slice across the curds from one end to the other. Slice from top to bottom, then side to side. You want to cut the curds into 1/4 inch cubes.  Your curds should be cut in a checkerboard pattern.

Next, I hold my knife at a 45 degree angle and slice again to cut the curds smaller.

Go slow here, you don't want to break up the curds into too small pieces.

Let the curds rest for 40 minutes.  The curds will settle to the bottom of the pot.

Step 9: Heating the Curds

The next step is to heat the curds.

Slowly warm the curds to 100 degrees F, increasing the temperature by 2 degrees every 5 minutes. It should take about 30 minutes.
Stir the curds gently and frequently to prevent them from clumping on the bottom of the pot.

DON'T RUSH

Once the curd have reached 100 degrees F, maintain the temperature for another 30 minutes, stirring gently.

After 30 minutes, remove the whey to the level of the curds and let sit 30 minutes longer.  Stir every 5 minutes to prevent the curds from clumping together.

Heating the curds forces more whey out of them. The curds will shrink a little and hold there shape better.

Step 10: Pressing the Cheese

Ladle your curds into a colander and let them drain. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the curds and gently mix.

Set up your press. Put the drip pan in first followed by the cheesecloth lines mold.
Place the curds in the mold and fold excess cloth over the top of the curds. Put the runner on top of the curds and another object on that, in my case, a can of Crisco.

Press the curds for 15 minutes with 3 pounds of weight.

If your container collecting the whey is small, keep an eye on it, a lot of whey is removed on the first pressing.

After 15 minutes, unwrap the cheese and flip it. Do this very gently, the cheese is very fragile right now and will have a tendency to fall apart. 

Place it back into the mold and press it for 12 hours with 10 pounds of weight.

Step 11: Waxing and Ageing

After the 12 hour press, your cheese should be nice and solid. Unwrap it and let it sit at room temp until dry to the touch, turning it twice a day. It should take 1-3 days.

Once dry, wax your cheese.
Melt your wax on the stove in something you will never use again.  Once you melt wax in it, it's there forever. I use an old cake pan.

You can dip your cheese into melted wax or use a brush to paint it on. Just make sure that the cheese is sealed completely.  This will prevent further drying out and inhibit mold growth.

Age the cheese at 55 degrees F for 1-4 months turning it over at least once a week.  It will sharpen as it ages.

Don't feel bad if you want to try it in a few weeks, there's nothing wrong with testing it.  The hardest part of cheese making is waiting for it to age.

Step 12: Other Cheeses

I hope you give cheese making a try.  It's a very rewarding hobby.  If you do attempt it though, don't rely on this instructable as your sole source of information.  There is a lot of research and preparations to do before starting cheese making.

Good Luck!

Some other cheeses I've attempted to make include Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Swiss, Brie, and Manchego.  Manchego is my favorite, I don't have a picture because it doesn't last long enough to take one.

Next on my list is Blue Cheese.


******I hope you like my instructable.  If you do, don't forget to vote for me******
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mjohnson849 months ago
Thanks for the video! I have a Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat in milk and am getting kind of tired of the soft cheese. :) I need to get my press made. Thanks for the instructable!!!
MillenniumMan11 months ago
And who says goat farmers have no culture :rimshot: heh heh.

And thanks for all the cheese.
Phiske1 year ago
Nice job! I'm gonna give it a try. I live in Ecuador where there isn't a great variety of cheeses. Some tend to think "cheese is cheese" that is, that there is only one way to make it. Now I just have to find the cultures.....
turbobug1 year ago
how much cheese does two gallons of milk make?
target022 (author)  turbobug1 year ago
Usually, 2 gallons of whole milk will make a 2lb wheel of cheese. Slightly less with harder cheeses because you press out more of the water.
karalalala2 years ago
First, I must say, this instructable is uber awesome and is going to be my go to resource when I start making cheese.

I just wanted to add that I was recommended by a cheese maker to use these tablets you can buy to sterilize baby bottles. They dont leave any taste, so might be preferable to anyone considering a bleach solution.

http://www.milton-tm.com/sterilising_tablets.html

I know you can buy them in the baby aisle here in NZ for a couple of bucks, and Im thinking there is probably a product similar in other parts of the world.
Frederbee2 years ago
Awesome job! Your cheeses look amazing. According to my book, the swiss gets bigger holes, the bigger the round. For instance, Emmental gets its lovely holes from being made in 180-200lb rounds, which are a bit too much for home cheese ^^ Good luck with the blues!
Beautiful cheese! Wow, I can only imagine how good it is. Nice work...very inspiring, although I don't know I'd have the patience needed.
Awesome instructable, just notified of the winners for the food science contest, happy to see you won grand prize, a deserving win indeed!
I agree! Congrats on the win target! :D
target022 (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thank you very much, I'm very excited. I can't wait to try out my new prize!!
Microbe2 years ago
Great 'able, but being vegetarian I don't want to use rennet. Have you tried with any alternatives?
target022 (author)  Microbe2 years ago
You can buy a vegetable based rennet.
http://www.cheesemaking.com/LiquidVegetableRennet.html

I've never used it but I've heard they work just as well.
Thank you I was just about to ask the same thing!
Congratulations on winning the fermenting challenge! This instructable truly deserves it! =)
target022 (author)  DeandrasCrafts2 years ago
Thanks! I didn't even know I won until you left a comment.
jlazar92 years ago
Should I boil the finger first? ;-)
Beekeeper2 years ago
Congratulations on attempting to explain a complicated process in a short instructable. I have been making hard cheeses for about a year now and have made 20+ batches during that time. I watched 100s of youtube videos most of which were pretty useless, but eventually I came across a series of tutorial videos by an Australian called Gavin. If you click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsmW_XRXCGg , you will go to one of them from which you will easily be able to find the others. It was these videos that gave me the confidence to get started. So this ‘ible’ plus the videos may get you, dear reader, started on making some home made cheese.

To our author, I question the statement that milk loses calcium during the pasteurization process. Where does it go? All store-bought milk is pasteurized and most is also HOMOGENIZED (to prevent the cream rising to the top). It is the homogenization process that does something to the calcium that necessitates the addition of Calcium Chloride. Whatever this something is I am sure the calcium doesn’t float off into the atmosphere. The homogenizing unit is just like a glorified blender that reduces the size of the cream particles. Nowhere have I seen an adequate and convincing explanation of what happens to the calcium (if anything) during the homogenization process, nor the real reason for the need to add calcium chloride. It is a mystery.




You're right, milk shouldn't lose calcium through pasteurization. But it does lose a ton of healthy bacteria. So I'd either use raw milk or add probiotics at some point in the process (like I do with my probiotic yogurt). Thanks for this tutorial! I've only made soft cheeses so far, and am looking forward to using this for a healthier version of cheese.
Milk doesn't loose calcium in the homogenization process, it's simply made unavailable. Homogenization changes the size of the fat particles in the milk and thus changes the way both humans and cheese-making bacteria use it. Alas, homogenization makes all that very important calcium completely inaccessible to the blessed cheese making bacteria and the human stomach. So all that stuff about drinking milk for calcium is complete nonsense unless it's un-homogenized.
Although I am not an expert this cannot be right on two counts. Firstly I don't believe the millions of gallons of homogenized milk that are being sold every day is all useless as far as uptake of the calcium is concerned. It would have been brought to the general public's notice before now, especially as people are encouraged to drink lots of milk to avoid osteoporosis. Secondly, I don't think the cheese-making bacteria require calcium. They convert the sugar called lactose in milk to lactic acid. You have similar lactic bacteria to make sour-dough bread, and these ones convert sugar (though not milk sugar, lactose) into lactic acid. I wish some expert out there would clearly tell us what homogenization does the the milk necessitating the addition of a salt (CaCl). I think it is something to do with conductivity and positive/negative charges on the minuscule fat particles which prevent them from coalescing. The CaCl changes the conductivity back to its original state. That's my theory anyway.

"Firstly I don't believe the millions of gallons of homogenized milk that are being sold every day is all useless as far as uptake of the calcium is concerned."

Several years ago, my physician was discussing the results of some lab tests with me. One of his question surprised me: "You don't drink much milk, do you?" I told him that I drink at least a quart a day, at every meal and an afternoon snack of milk and cookies. He replied, "Your body isn't using it very well, then." Since then, on doctor's orders, I take a daily supplement of 1000 mg of calcium because a quart of milk a day for some reason isn't providing me with enough calcium.
Actually, the fact that homogenization makes calcium bio-unavailable has been known since the process first started. However, I'm just some random person on the internet saying that, so here are some sources:

http://drlwilson.com/Articles/calcium.htm (Under cows milk and milk substitutes)

http://drcate.com/raw-milk-why-mess-with-udder-perfection/ (has a great graph)


Also, the cheese making bacteria don't need the calcium to culture the milk, but to make it congeal and form a clean break


http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/239-FAQ-Cheesemaking-and-Milk.html (point 7, under "raw milk", and point 4 under Pasteurized/Homogenized milk).

There are more resources on this, but it's getting late (for me). I will however say that there is some level of controversy over why it's harder to absorb calcium from pasteurized homogenized milk. While fat-globule size is generally sited as a major problem, many people argue that the enzymes and vitamins destroyed in pasteurization are the problem. And to add to it all, goats milk is naturally homogenized and cheese makers don't seem to have any problem getting a clean break with that. So there is some mystery involved. I encourage you to do some of your own research, as I have only scratched the surface of this subject, and am by no means an expert. This is simply the explanation that seems most likely to me.
Thanks for the research, Random Person! This has been quite educational. Now I'm curiouser than ever about what type of milk makes X cheese. May have to do a little documentary on this topic by interviewing the cheese-makers in my area.
That's v. good to know! All the more reason to buy raw milk, eh? Around here you can't buy raw milk, but can drink milk from your own cow. So they sell "shares" in cows, then give you the milk. : )
target022 (author)  Beekeeper2 years ago
You're right about the calcium, it is the homogenization process that affects it. Nobody seems to know exactly what happens to it, but I've used store bought milk with and without adding the extra calcium and the extra calcium produces better curds. I've also noticed that it is dependent on the brand of milk, some are worse than others.

Do you use calcium chloride in your cheese?

Are you a real beekeeper? Beekeeping is one of my next ventures.
If I use store-bought milk I do add CaCl but the dairy dept at our university, which makes pilot batches of cheese using 250 gallons of homogenized milk doesn't add it, and they are teaching students the correct way. You say some brands of milk are better than others, but maybe the batches you thought produced better curds were actually from the better milk, and it wasn't the CaCl which made the difference. Unfortunately one cannot add photos to these comments, otherwise I would include some.

And yes I am a beekeeper. I started when I was about 15 (now 69) and have had up to 200 hives producing 40,000 lbs of honey in one season. Keeping bees has been my passion for all my adult life and I consider myself an expert, though no university degrees to show you. I have approx 400 books on beekeeping dated from the 1600s to modern times which I I find fascinating as they plot the development of beekeeping over time. Ask me any beekeeping questions you like. Which part of the world are you in? Unfortunately the widespread use of agricultural chemicals as well as cosmetic lawn care products and insecticides in urban areas have all contributed to huge declines in all insects including honey bees. As an example, the seed of most corn grown in the USA is coated with a neonicotinoid insecticide (related to nicotine in cigarettes). The amount of chemical applied to ONE seed is enough to kill 80,000 bees!! And the stuff takes years to break down in the soil. The coating on the seed gets into the plant and into the pollen, and when the bees collect the pollen and take to back to their hives it kills the baby bees in the hive.
target022 (author)  Beekeeper2 years ago
I read recently about the pesticides killing the bees. I live in northern California and probably won't be ready for a hive until next year. How far will a bee travel to get pollen and is there a way to keep them close to home, like planting a lot of flowers?

Oh, and you can add images to the comments. There's a button on the bottom left of the reply window that says add images.

Thanks for the info.
Bees will travel up to 3 miles in any direction from your hive and in exceptional circumstances have been known to fly 8 miles!! If you consider a hive of 70,000 bees at the height of summer, approx half of which are foragers. Each forager will make up to 20 trips per day visiting say 100 flowers on each trip. According to my math that works out at about 60 million flowers per day per hive. You would need a field of something or a forest of flowering trees to make any real difference, but every little helps. Plant bee friendly plants and encourage your friends and neighbours to do likewise.

As for getting a hive next year, never do today what you can put off til tomorrow. This time of year is the ideal time to start.

I'll try adding a photo of some of my cheeses (waxed with yellow wax). I've tried this before and it doesn't seem to work for the comment section - only the original bile, but miracles may happen. No, it won't work. Perhaps you would give me instructions.
Hi Beekeeper - it's off message here but I keep 4 or 5 hives (4 now - I lost one this winter) in Devon - England. It is my aim to keep them in a bee-friendly manner and to intervene as little as possible but to keep them healthy. I think you have even worse chemical problems in the USA although we seem to be doing our best to catch up. And my farm used to be a dairy farm famous for its cheese in the 1970's. I wish I had the knowledge and time to get that going again. This instructable at least gives me the nudge to give it a go.
Have a look at the videos by Gavin before embarking on cheese making. He makes it look very do-able and his instructions are crystal clear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsmW_XRXCGg. From this one you will find the others.
WOW, I did NOT know that about corn! A small example of the big, horrible picture of our bee problem!
A possible alternative to boiling everything is just to simply use a 200ppm chlorine solution (this is what we do when making cheese at my university's dairy plant). Does the same job and all it requires is a quick dip.
target022 (author)  quantumflux222 years ago
That's a good tip, do you know where to buy a chlorine solution? I know home-brew stores also sell sanitizing agents for equipment.
I'm not really sure where they get it, but I'm guessing that they probably buy it directly from Ecolab (a big sanitation company that spans North America). I just know that they buy it in jugs of about 5L. I'll try and find out what it's called and let you know if you want.
3.5 ounces bleach to 3 gallons water. one minute contact time. rinse with fresh water.

alternatively, home brew supply store, and get some Iodaphore. That's what we use in the brewery for holding solution. Its a blend of Iodine and Phosphoric acid.

considering all the handling procedures are the same? and bleach is far cheaper?

go with the bleach.
Also, get a chlorine test kit.

http://www.allqa.com/aqa1627-1628.htm

It's $30, but should last forever in a home situation.

Great Instructable by the way! really clears up a lot of my questions.
Hmm... I should try this when I move into my next apartment.

How good does that organic straight-from-the-farm milk work in comparison to standard Vitamin D milk?
target022 (author)  AlternateLives2 years ago
From what I've read it's much better, but you will have to pasteurized the milk first. You also won't have to supplement the calcium as well.
If you can, try to use goat or sheep's milk depending on the cheese.
Sorry, target022,I know we have a be nice policy, but I disagree with you on this point. You do not have to pasteurize straight-from-the-farm milk as long as you age the cheese for at least 3 months - especially organic milk I would think. The acidity in the aging cheese self-sterilizes it from any unhelpful bacteria. I believe the standard in the USA is only 2 months but to be on the safe side allow 3 months. Most farmers drink their own milk fresh from the cow and they never get ill. For centuries cheese was made without pasteurization so why are we so fussy now. It is thought that the sterile environment we live in in N. America is responsible for the huge increase in allergies that people suffer from.
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