MAKING A STILTON CHEESE.
Things that you need from the kitchen.
A two gallon bucket preferably with lid.
A piece of cotton sheeting 20x20 inches.
A beer thermometer (Chemists for ï¿½2)
A large spoon to stir with or French balloon whisk.
A long knife with blade about 10ï¿½ long.
An empty 2 lb fruit tin for a temporary mould or any round recepticle open at both ends. so you can turn your cheese when it is forming.
Things from Tescoï¿½s.
One gallon of whole milk (full cream).
One carton of active buttermilk.
One small (100ml) bottle of rennet (check the date on the box)
A piece of blue cheese (about an ounce) like Stilton or Danish blue.
About an ounce of coarse sea salt.
Two small polystyrene packing bases from pizzas or similar.
YOU ARE NOW READY TO START.
I always keep a log as I go along so that I can always reproduce any cheese that I make and it is always consistent.
Use the sink full of hot water to keep your temperature at the correct
level so that when your milk is in the bucket it is surrounded by warm water and the temperature for Stilton is 88Fï¿½ï¿½no more no less.
Put your cold milk in a sink full of warm water to bring it up to temperature.
Empty the milk in your clean bucket (sterilized)
Check the temperature is at 88F.
Give the buttermilk a good shake up and then open it and use only a quarter of the carton, tip this in the milk and stir vigorously to mix.
Crumble up your piece of blue cheese and add a small drop of milk to it and stir it into a smooth cream, then add a drop more milk and mix well, this is your blue culture. Add this to your bucket of milk and stir very well.
Put a tablespoon of cool water in a cup drop in half tsp of RENNET
Mix this well for several minutes. ADD THIS TO YOUR MILK and stir well.
Cover and leave for 90 minutes at 88F.
Check after this time for what they call ï¿½A clean breakï¿½
(this is a state of the curd where if you immerse your bent index finger under the curd surface and then pull it gently out. It should come out clean and the hole left fills with green whey.) That is the condition called a clean break and the curds are ready for cutting, if they are not ready then they will not cut cleanly and separate and you must leave the curd for a further 30 minutes to set properly.
Taking a long knife you must cut the curd right to the bottom of the bucket in straight lines across the surface of the curd. Then do it again at right angles to the first cut so that you have sticks a quarter inch square standing on end in the bucket.
Now take your knife at an angle and cut through those sticks, so that you end up with quarter inch square cubes of solid curd.
Very very gently slide your hand down the side of the bucket to the bottom and spread your hand and lift the curds gently upwards so that they turn over, any big ones just reduce them with your knife.
Leave the curds covered at the same temp (88F) for 30 mins.
After 30 mins the curds should have sunk below the whey so scoop the surplus whey off with a clean cup and just leave the whey just covering the curds and leave for a further 30 minutes.
You can put your hand in and lift the curds as before at any time during this hours ï¿½cooking timeï¿½ .
After the second 30 minutes the curds are ready for straining . Lay your straining cloth in the colander and gently cup the curds into the
colander, allowing the whey to drain through.
Take up all four corners of the straining cloth and tie string around these to form a bundle. Hang this bundle over the bucket to drain for 30 minutes.
Taking the drained bundle and place it on the clean draining board and place a plate on top and on the plate place a weight of around ten pounds. Press this for two hours and the whey will continue to run out.
After two hours unwrap your curd, which will be like a flattened disc of soft cheese.
This must be broken up with your fingers into the clean bucket in small pieces the size of cherries, you have a heaped dessert spoon of sea salt to add as you crumble this curd into your bucket.
Take your fruit tin (Cheese mould) and place it on one of the small pizza bases on the draining board, fill your mould with the salted curds and press down holding the mould firmly to prevent it from jumping up. Make sure you have a fairly even surface.
Wrap the top and bottom cut outs from the tin in cling film (this is called a ï¿½followerï¿½) and place on top of the curds. You now have to find a weight to place on this to press down on the curd block for several days.
In the first day the cheese must be turned frequently to keep it in balance for expelling the whey, this is where the other pizza base comes in, just take out the follower and place the pizza base over the top of the mould and invert it. The cheese will slide down to the bottom then place your follower on top of the curd again and replace the weight.
After three days your new cheese should hold itï¿½s shape so it is now ready to mature.
Again place on a pizza base and cover the cheese with a plastic basin
to keep the air in and create a 95% humidity environment.
The cheese has to be turned daily and do not touch it with your bare fingers until the crust has well and truly formed.
The outer rind will go all colours during the next week or so but will settle for an orangey brown after three weeks or so.
On the fourth week take a sterilized knitting needle and pierce the cheese repeatedly to the centre only all around.
Do this again at six weeks, through the same hole if you can. This lets the air get inside the cheese for the blue veining, it now has itï¿½s own immune system.
This cheese can be eaten after six weeks but will be stronger flavoured after 12 weeks and at 20 weeks is considered to be the King of all Blue cheeses.
It all may sound complicated but after making a few you will do it with your eyes shut it really is so simple to make fantastic cheeses, far far better than anything you could buy in the shop and a King Blue mature Stilton you are looking at about ï¿½10/ï¿½12 per pound of cheese.
Make ï¿½..Eatï¿½ï¿½..and Enjoy.