Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maybe It's Time To Cheddar

My follower, Glenn  K., just made a cheddar.  There has been something about making cheddar, besides the time to age it to get a sharp cheese, that has kind of put me off.  But my recent trials with the Port Salut have gotten me past the "What if I screw up?" feeling about trying something more difficult.  The cheddaring process makes this a bit more labor intensive.  I'll have to devote an entire day to this.  Cheddaring means that once the curds are drained, you press them into a mass then return it to the pot, and heat the mass, turning it frequently to further acidify the cheese.  Then you have to cut the mass into fat strips, kind of like steak fries in size, salt them, and then press them under high pressure for 12 hours.  Then of course, there's the waxing of the outside of the finished block.

I really like cheddars that have been laced with port wine.  So, I figure if I'm in for a penny, I'm in for a pound.  I have decided I want to attempt flavored cheddars.  Since the recipe uses 16 quarts of milk and one large tomme mold to make a 3 1/2 lb wheel, I think I can actually make two or three smaller cheddars from this simultaneously, one flavored with port wine, one flavored with my favorite beer, and one plain one, just to add to the difficulty.  But that really does not make it that much more difficult. Flavoring happens after the block has been cut up into strips and just before pressing.  So I just need to set up three bowls for the curds and three molds.  If I do it this way, I'll have three 1lb cheeses.  If I made a separate recipe for each, I'd have three 3lb cheeses...whoa!

I need to order some supplies first, and with my schedule, I may not be able to get to this for a couple weeks.  So I am placing an order for some annatto to color the cheese the familiar orange, and some cheese wax, as well as several smaller tomme molds.  I figure once I wax the cheeses, I can imprint an identifier into the wax for the different versions.   My press can accommodate up to three small molds stacked one on top of the other, and they have special molds that are meant just for this purpose.

As they say, go big or go home! 

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