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Not so mature cheese maker!

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:03 pm
by mildredmittens
Hello! I am so pleased to have discovered this site! We are new to cheesemaking - making our first cheddar 2 months ago was a great experience and we have gone on to make different cheddars and a Derby since then. Reading your information we have been inspired to order the 'blue mold' ready to make our first Stilton type cheese! I can't wait!!

We are using a home made press (it is my Birthday soon though and I have put a Wheeler press on my Wish List. I find it quite difficult to stop the current set up from tilting!). We use bar-bell weights (inexpensive from Tescos) and a stainless steel mould . . . this was 2.99 from Dunelm Mill, a pierced utensil holder just the right size for a 2 gallon batch of milk! We made a follower using melted cheese wax. The book that started it all off was 'Home Cheese Making'. It is well laid out and aimed at the novice cheese maker, the recipes we have tried have worked very well which has just encouraged and enthused us even more!

I use the whey in my homemade bread - it is wonderful. We make our own butter too and have tried the recipe from HCM using buttermilk to make a cheese. We are lucky in that we can obtain our milk and cream direct from a local dairy farm.

The whole process is absorbing and addictive. The only frustration being the relatively long maturing process. Worth it though, fresh bread and home made cheese truly is the ambrosia of the Gods!

Can anyone suggest the best cheese press to get?

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:29 am
by Patricia Thornton
Welcome to the forum, mildredmittens, it's a great place for information and help.

Like you, I'm fairly new to cheesemaking, having oringinally joined to learn about sausage making and only stumbled into this part of the forum. Now, having made three cheedar-like cheeses am really rather pleased (and secretly proud of my results) that I did.

I have a Dutch cheese press but not knowing how to use it properly was trying to balance 28lb weights from it (see Cheese Chat to find out how to use one correctly). Anyway, my husband offered to make me a press from 2 wooden cutting boards and 4 stainless steel rods to which he affixed small feet. It accomodates any shape or size of mould and has lots of space for different weights (tins of beans or peaches) and works well for me.

Rick von Trense who first inspired me to try cheese used to say something to the effect that one could find everything one needs to make cheese in most kitchens and he was, as usual, absolutely correct.

By the way, I just love your little pigs, they are beautiful!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:52 am
by mildredmittens
Hi Patty, thanks for your words of encouragement! It IS satisfying when something resembling a cheese appears from all that milk!! I am going to try a Stir Curd Cheddar today - it is snowing here so I can't think of anything better than staying in the warm making some cheese. It is nice to know I can come here for advice too! Thanks!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:28 pm
by mildredmittens
Hi again Patty, I had a good day making the stir curd cheddar, it went well and it's now in the press for 24 hours.
Annoyingly though the whey didn't make Ricotta! I made it ok last time, when I made a 'normal' Cheddar and I can't think I did anything different apart from the whey being older, under 3 hours though. I have found advice elsewhere on the site though so I will follow that. I am just pleased I kept a couple of pints of whey back to use in my bread making!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:36 pm
by saucisson
I got a small Dutch cheese press for Christmas and made my first properly pressed cheese with it at New Year. It does really need clamping to a table in use as my girls managed to topple it over twice brushing past it.

Welcome to the forums mildred,


PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:44 pm
by mildredmittens
Hi Dave, the Dutch press looks good . . . I am using our home made set up on the floor! If it slides it doesn't have far to go :?

Thanks for the welcome!

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 6:55 am
by Patricia Thornton
Mildrednmittens, I'm rather pleased that snow doesn't inspire me to make cheese - I'd have a mountain of cheese by now - we had four feet of the stuff (snow that is) for six weeks!

I'm afraid I don't know the difference between cheddar and stir-curd cheddar, perhaps you can enlighten me. I'd also be interested to know if it's possible to freeze whey?

My very first attempt of turning whey into ricotta was a complete farce, my second a great success after reading in Katie Thear's book to add whole milk and rennet to the whey: In both cases I think I made the ricotta the following day. The successful batch I used in a rather delicious cheesecake that was much better than the same recipe using shop-bought ricotta.

I rather envy you being able to make your own butter, that is something I'd love to be able to do. Unfortunately, here in Bulgaria fresh cream is not available - even when I get milk straight from the cow there is virtually no cream in it - so I doubt I will go into butter production just yet.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:41 am
by mildredmittens
Hello Patty! What a lot of snow! We didn't get much at all here.

The stir curd ceddar was a recipe from the book I am using, Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, it has been a great help. The SC cheddar was a simpler process, the curds are not cut into blocks just stirred in the pan for an hour at 100f at the last stage. It seems ok.

The whey froze well, I put it into 250ml pots so I can just take them out one at a time to put in my bread.

I will try the rennet adding method next time for the Ricotta, how much do you add to a gallon of whey I wonder?

I can't imagine not having cream - we just take it for granted! The home made butter is nice to make, I use an old Blow Butterchurn. We freeze the butter too. The farmer often has some cream nearing the use by date which we get a bit cheaper!

I am going to hem some cheesecloth today, no cheesemaking :cry: Hope you have a nice day!

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:10 am
by Patricia Thornton
To make ricotta from whey, Katie Thear suggests adding 10% whole milk and 0.01% rennet. Although I didn't actually measure the whey, milk or rennet when I added it (after my first attempt I wasn't expecting much to happen) surprisingly, it worked very well.

Thanks for the tip, I will certainly freeze some whey next time.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:52 am
by mildredmittens
Thanks for the info Patty. I have just found a copy of Kathy F's book on Amazon - I can't wait for it to arrive now!

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:28 am
by Heathers
M. Mittens

I got a Cheesypress for Christmas. It's wasn't very expensive but does a great job. I'm not a cheesemaking expert (um...yet) but my rookie feedback is that the mold on it could be a smidge wider so there is room for a 2 gallon recipe of curds without having the squish them down to get the follower on. Could be user error. Still, it's a great press and easy to use. I'm intereested to hear everyone's feedback and of course for someone to notice that it's time to get me to the next cheesepress level ha ha.

Have fun making Stilton. Mine is the most colorful and interesting cheese in my "cave!"


PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:40 am
by mildredmittens
Hi Heathers, thanks for that! I have just placed an order for my proper cheespress - an early Birthday present . . . I couldn't wait! And you cant have too many cheese presses :D

Reading the Stilton/Blue cheese process scares me . . . but yours sounds very interesting! I hope to make ours at the weekend anyway.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:56 am
by mildredmittens
I have another query which I hope someone can help me with!

I am using the Choozit Instant MA 400 freeze dried starter culture. The first pack I split into 5 and froze it in sterile water in an ice cube tray. I have just started a new packet today and wonder if it is ok to just freeze the pack (sealed) and use it straight from the pack, judging the quantity on the tip of a teaspoon. I have checked elsewhere on the forum and it sounds as if it is ok to do this. I wonder how long it keeps after opening too, it probably says on the packet . . .

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:52 pm
by mildredmittens
Hello again! I can highly recommend the Wheeler press - it is beautiful as well as a joy to use!

I am sorry but I have another query, I can't find a similar problem anywhere on the Forum (but sorry if I have missed it). I have 4 cheddar style cheese at varying ages, maturing in my cheese safe (ranging from 4 weeks old to one week). The temp is 10c and 70% humidity. I noticed, when turning them last night, that one has green looking mould growing, it seems to be from under the lard/bandage wrap though. Is this normal? It sounds so silly but I really don't know what to expect!! I really appreciate any advice offered - thanks :D

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:40 pm
by saucisson
As always, photos would really help :)

I don't think we have any professional cheese makers here, we all try and muddle along together, but on the whole don't do too badly.