Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese
1 gallon milk
1/2 packet direct set mesophilic culture
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, or 1/4 rennet tablet, diluted in 1/4 cup cold, unchlorinated water
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/5 tsp Calcium Chloride (Pickle Crisp Granules) dissolved in 1/4 cup cold, unchlorinated water
I used store bought Vitamin D milk. I use a stockpot, set inside a larger stockpot, filled with water up to the level of the milk, for better temperature control.
Add calcium chloride water solution to milk and stir well. Heat milk to 90F, sprinkle mesophilic culture over top of milk and let sit 3 minutes to hydrate. Using a large whisk or perforated spatula, gently stir in an up and down motion, being sure to get all culture mixed in, for 3 minutes. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes, be sure to keep milk at steady temperature, and as still as possible during this time. Add the rennet solution and again, gently stir, in an up and down motion, for 1 minute. Cover and let sit, keeping the pot at 90F for 45 minutes, or until you can get a clean break with the curds. You should be able to cut into the top about 1/2" and fold the cut over, and it stay, without the cut filling back in. Using a long knife, cut the curds in 1/2" slices, back and forth across the pot. (If you're not sure the curds are ready, slice some, then lift with a ladle and see if they retain their shape, if they do, they're ready.)
Gradually bring the temperature up to 100F, over a period of about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, very gently to prevent the curds from sticking together. Once you reach 100F, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Line a colander with cheese cloth, and using a perforated dipper or spatula, gently lift the curds out and place into the lined colander. After you get most of the curds out, you can dip out most of the whey, then pour the remaining curds and whey into the colander.
Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth, hang, and let drain for about an hour. Place the curds in a large bowl, remove the cheesecloth and break up the pieces, while gradually mixing in the salt.
If you don't have a mold and press, place back in 2 or 3 layers of cheese cloth, bring the ends together and twist, to form a ball. The pressing process: You apply 10 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes, remove from mold, unwrap, turn over, replace cheese cloth, apply 20 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes, unwrap, replace flip over, replace cheese cloth, then apply 50 pounds of pressure for 12 hours. Then remove the cheese cloth, let air dry for 2 or 3 days, until a crust-like rind forms. Then wax or vac-seal and let age at least 1 month. I used a 2 pound plastic cheese mold and a big C-clamp. A better press can be made from 2 long threaded bolts and a couple of boards...
Recipe and Photos by: JD Provence for Canning and Cooking at Home