Introduction: Cheese Made Easy - Marbled Cheddar

Make marbled cheddar with a few ingredients. For beginners.

Step 1: Prep

You will need:
1 gallon raw milk
1/32 tsp MA4002 culture or mesophillic with thermophillic culture
6 drops Annato coloring
8 drops animal rennet
Cheese wax

Cheese press or DIY cheese press
Cheese cloth, or sanitized cotton sheeting
Whisk or knife

If you are new to cheese making, or have not made cheese out of the milk you are going to use, I recommend halving the recipe. Some milks take a different amount of culture. I will explain this further later in this tutorial.

Step 2: Heat Milk

Bring milk to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have raw milk, increase the culture amount to 1/16tsp-1/8tsp.
Keep an eye on the milk. If it goes over 86, just remove from heat and let cool to the temp. If it goes over a certain temp you can scald the milk.

Step 3: Continuing On..

Add the culture to the milk by sprinkling it over the surface. The milk should be between 80-90 degrees. Let rehydrate for 2 minutes before stirring it into the milk. Cover the pot and let set for 45-60 minutes.
You will notice Cheddar has a lot of waiting involved. But don't let it keep you from venturing into cheese making!

Cultures and supplies can be found at new england cheese making supply. There are other places, but I find their customer service, help, and everything else worth it. The prices are super affordable, to boot.

Step 4: Separation Time....colors and Rennet

Now take out half of the milk and put it in another bowl. In two small bowls, add 3tbs each of water, and 4 drops each of rennet ( for the total 1 gallon of milk, so half a gallon of milk in each pot). Stir the rennet and water together. Add one bowl to one of the milk pots. Cover ad maintain a temp of 80-90 degrees fahrenheit. To the other pot, add 3tbs of water mixed with 6 drops of annato colorant. Mix well, and then add the bowl of rennet and stir it well. Cover and, like the other, maintain the temp around 80-90 degrees.

Step 5: Check

After 30 minutes to 2 hours, your cheese should be at the clean break stage. Thicker than custard, but not as thick as jello. Of out put a knife in and pull up, nothing sticks to the knife and the knife creates a clean break in the curd (look at the photo).

Step 6: Cut the Curds

Use a whisk to cut up the curds. Do not whisk, but push down, cut across, and pull up. Repeat until all the curd is cut.

Step 7: Raise Temp

Place both pans on burners. Within the next 20-30 minutes, raise the temp to 102 degrees. Stir slowly to keep the curds from healing. Once it reaches 102, turn off the heat and continue to stir for another 20-30 minutes.

Step 8: Drain

Drain each batch in a different cheesecloth. Wrap them in the cloth and place back in a large pot, stacking both colors/ batches. I use cast iron because it can hold its temp for 4 hours. If the temp of your pan begins to drop, put the pan over a low heat until it rises temp again. Turn off the heat after and cover.

Step 9: Cheddaring Time

Set the timer for 15 minutes. Once it goes off, flip the curd masses over onto the other side, and then put one on top of another. Set the timer again for 15 minutes. Repeat the flipping and stacking 2 more times, for a total of 4 sets of 15 minutes. This is called cheddaring, and is what helps give cheddar its flavor.
If any whey accumulates I the pot, pour it off. Do not squeeze the curd masses.

Step 10: Salting Time

Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Weigh it. Add 2% of its weight in non-iodine salt in 3 intervals. 1/3 of the salt every 10 minutes. Mix well.

Step 11: Combine and Press

Combine the curds. Add into the press.
Press at 20 lbs for 2 hours 44 minutes (or until the curds knit together enough for you to flip it over.)
At the end of the time, take the cheese out and flip it. Replace into cheese press. Press at 30lbs for 12 hours. Flip cheese. Press at 50 pounds (or as much as it takes to close the curd) for 24 hours. Do not skimp on the time. Over the amount is better than being under.

Step 12: Dry

Let the cheese dry on a clean, airy surface. Too much dry air will make the cheese crack. Too wet and it will mold.
Dry for about 3 days, or until the surface yellows and there is no moisture on it.
Remember to flip daily, twice if you can.

Step 13: Age

Time to age it. Find a spot between 50-66 degrees, with moisture in the air. This will be the spot for your cheese to age.
Wax the cheese and place it in your 'cave'. Flip daily for the first week and a half, and then flip only a few times a week. After a few months, you can choose to flip only once a week.
An old fridge or freezer works great as a cave, as does a humid and cool cellar.
Of you do not have a spot, you can choose to age it in your fridge. Just note that the fridge is cold compared to a cheese cave, and the aging process will take twice the time to achieve the same flavor and texture. It still comes out good, though.

After 3 months to 9 months, a moist cheddar will be ripe. A cheddar that had more moisture taken out during the cooking process will age better (aka, longer). My passed two cheddars have had dry curds compared to my first Cheddars. They are in the cave waiting to ripen.

Step 14: Tips

As you can see in my cheddar, there are holes. This can be caused by a number of things, and for mine it was inadequate pressing. This happened because I made a large batch, which was much too large for my tiny cheese press.

After aging in my cave (an old freezer in the basement), at around 60 degrees for 2 1/2 months, I was left with a creamy, smooth, slightly nutty cheese.

I hope you can wait long enough to enjoy! Aged cheddar is much better than the fresh stuff (which tastes like mozzarella.)