Flavorful, creamy, and firm, cheddar cheese can be used in a variety of ways: sliced for sandwiches, grated as a garnish for soups or salads, pared into curls to top a casserole, or just eaten in bite-size pieces with fruit or on its own.
This recipe will show you exactly how to make cheese - cheddar cheese that is.
- Mesophilic Cheddar Cheese Starter Culture
- Large pot
- Long knife (curd knife; does not need to be sharp)
- Cheese wax
- Cheese press
- 2 gallons cow or goat milk (do not use UHT/UP milk)
- 1/8 tsp. calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (optional)
Mesophilic culture (choose one):
- 1 packet direct-set mesophilic culture
- 1/8 tsp. bulk mesophilic culture
- Rennet, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water (choose one):
- 2 Tbsp. sea salt
- In a large pot, heat the milk to 85°F, stirring frequently.
- As the milk is heating, add the calcium chloride, if using.
- When the milk gets to 85°F, add culture, stir in with an up-and-down motion, cover, and ferment for 1 hour. (Note: It does not have to stay at 85. If it naturally drops in temperature, that is OK.)
- Stir to homogenize the milk, and slowly fold in the diluted rennet. Using an up-and-down motion with your spoon will ensure that the rennet works its way through all the milk, so you can get the highest possible yield.
- Remove from heat source and allow the cheese to set for 1 hour, or until the whey begins to separate from the curd. You should see a layer of mostly clear whey floating on top of the curd, and the curd should be pulling away from the sides of the pot.
- Using the knife, carefully cut the curds into ¼-inch cubes and allow to set for 5 minutes. Do not stir.
- Over the next 30 minutes, slowly heat the curds to 100°F, stirring frequently. As you stir, the curds will shrink.
- Once the curds are at 100°F, maintain the temperature and continue stirring for the next 30 minutes. If the curds get too hot, remove from heat.
- After 30 minutes, stop stirring and allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pot. This will take about 20 minutes.
- Pour the curds into a colander. Place the colander and curds back into the cheese pot and allow to drain for 15 minutes.
- Remove the colander from the pot and turn the curds out onto a cutting board. You should have a semi-solid mass that looks like jelly. Pour the whey out of the pot, cut the mass into five slices, and place back into the pot. Cover.
- Fill a sink or basin with 102°F water and place the pot and curds into it. Keeping the temperature of the curds right around 100°F, turn the slices every 15 minutes for the next 2 hours. This is the cheddaring process and will give your cheese its unique flavor and deliciousness.
- After 2 hours, the curds will be shiny and very firm. Remove them from the pot and cut into ½-inch cubes. Place back in the pot, cover, and place in the sink filled with 102°F water.
- In 10 minutes, stir gently with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Repeat twice more.
- Remove the pot from the sink and add salt. Stir gently once more.
- Line the cheese press with a piece of cheesecloth and carefully place the curds into the press. Wrap the cloth around the cheese andpress at 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cheese from the press, unwrap, and flip the cheese. Re-wrap using a fresh piece of cheesecloth, and press at 40 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the press, unwrap, and flip the cheese. Re-wrap using a fresh piece of cheesecloth, and press at 50 pounds of pressure for 24 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the press and air-dry for 2 to 3 days, until smooth and dry to the touch.
- Wax the cheese and age at 55° to 60°F for at least 60 days. (Click here for practical methods for aging cheese.)
START MAKING YOUR OWN CHEDDAR CHEESE TODAY
You’ve probably felt that learning how to make your own cheese is hard but you’ve just done it!
If you don’t already have your cheese starter culture, what are you doing? This recipe works perfectly with the starters that Cultures For Health has.
If you’re ready to start your fermentation journey and start making your own cheddar cheese, click here to check out our amazing cheddar cheese starting kit now!
Be sure to check out these other cheddar cheese recipes!