This is a great first cheese; it’s simple to make and doesn’t need long to age. It won’t be as complex as cheeses that age for much longer, but it will be rewarding to make and eat! Time: 3 hours, plus 4 to 6 hours and 3 days inactive, and 4 to 8 weeks aging.
- 2-gallon pot, and a pot that will hold it
- Cheese form
- Water jug or other weight for pressing
- Tub with lid
- 2 gallons whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon Flora Danica or 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride, diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon double-strength vegetarian rennet, diluted just before use in 1/4 cup cool, nonchlorinated water
- 2 tablespoons sea salt, divided
- Pour the milk into the pot, and place that pot over another pot of water on the stovetop. Heat until milk reaches 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, sprinkle the culture on top of the milk and let it set for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir gently for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Keep the milk at 88 to 90 degrees, stirring occasionally, and let ripen for 30 minutes.
- Stir in the diluted calcium chloride, if using, and let set for 5 minutes.
- Stir milk using an up-and-down motion with the ladle. Stop stirring briefly and pour the diluted rennet over the top of the ladle, and then continue stirring for 1 minute. Hold the ladle to the top of the milk’s surface in several spots to help still it.
- Keep the milk at 88 to 90 degrees, and let the curd set until it breaks cleanly, about 45 minutes. Then, cut the curd mass into 3/8-inch cubes with a knife, and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Heat curds very gradually, stirring gently, to 100 degrees over 30 minutes; increase temperature more slowly in the beginning, especially during the first 15 minutes. Cut any large curds into smaller pieces during stirring.
- Keep curds at 100 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring constantly and gently, until curds are uniform in size and feel tender but springy, similar to the texture of a hard-boiled egg white, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the curds set for 5 minutes.
- Scoop out the whey to the level of the curds; reserve some whey. Using your hands, work curds gently into a solid mass about the size of the form you’re using.
- Place the form on a tray or drain board. Dampen cheesecloth with the reserved whey, and line the form with it. Using your hands, lift the curd mass out of the pot and press it gently into the form. When it fills the form evenly, fold the excess cloth over the curd, set the follower on top, and press down gently. Add about 1 pound of weight. Press for 15 minutes at room temperature, 68 to 72 degrees.
- Remove weight and follower. Then, remove the wrapped cheese from the form, unwrap it, and flip it over. Rearrange the cheesecloth in the form, and then replace the cheese, pressing the cloth into the form along with it; the cheese should still look a bit wrinkled and the rind not yet smooth. Press with 1 pound of weight for 30 minutes more.
- Repeat the steps above, flipping the cheese and rearranging it in the form; this time, the rind should be smoother, but still not evenly closed. Increase the weight to 2 pounds and press for 1 hour more.
- Repeat the steps again; now, the rind should be very even, perhaps with a few small openings. If not, you may add up to 2 pounds more weight. Press for 4 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the form, cut off a tiny piece, and taste it. It should have a very mild tang and taste milky with a hint of buttermilk flavor. If it isn’t slightly tangy, press it for 1 hour more and taste it again.
- When you’ve achieved the desired tang, take the cheese from the form, unwrap it, and rub 1 tablespoon of salt all over the cheese. Replace the cheese in the form, without the cheesecloth, and let it set for 30 minutes. Remove the cheese, and rub it with the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Place the cheese in the tub, cover it, and let it set in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. After setting, a bit of salty whey may be at the bottom of the tub. If so, rub the whey all over the cheese and flip it over. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times daily for the next 3 days. During this time, the cheese will change in texture and flavor as the salt moves through the wheel and the cheese mellows.
- Age, vacuum-sealed or with a natural rind, for 4 to 8 weeks.
Learn more about making aged cheeses and setting up an aging environment in Make Aged Cheese at Home.