Shades of Ireland

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cheddar in the Making!

As I posted last weekend, I spent alot of time making cheese. It was a learning process for me about managing my time. I tried to make two different kinds of cheese at the same time. It wasn't easy but I did manage to keep it all straight and get it done. The big lesson that I learned is that it is so time consuming, that I must make larger batches. It just took up too much of my day to end up with only one wheel of cheddar and one wheel of a pressed cheese. The cheddar has to be aged but the other is meant to be eaten fresh--- and we did.

The cheddar stayed in the press for 24 hours and then had to air dry on a rack. It took just about 3 days for it to dry out enough for me to be ready to start aging it.

Please note that my cheddar is white. Most cheeses are white unless you add a special dye. I will just pass on that step.

To start the aging process, I will cool it in my kitchen is a small wine cooler. I have had this thing for years but today is really the first time I have had it turned on for any length of time. Cheddar need to stay in the neighborhood of 50 degrees.

Right about now, I am really appreciating building those two new cabinets because I am really using them. Don't look to closely at my "modification"

Before I place it lovingly in to this modified, small "cheese cave", I need to wax the wheel. Over the years, I discovered that waxing cheese is pretty close to kitchen acrobatics. If I tried just brushing the melted wax on, I made a really terrible mess.

Quite by accident, I discovered that my cheese wheels were just the right size to fit in a very small crock pot. Even better, the crock pot with it's lid made an excellent place to store my cheese wax. This particular little jewel has had cheese wax in it for about 6 years. When it gets low, I just toss in another chunk.

I dip the wheel and slowly turn it to give a good coating of wax. This wax is the classic red. I do have some that is plain or not colored but I like the red. Not only is it pretty but it helps me keep from missing spots on the cheese. Basically, I can see where I have been.

As you can see, the wax layer is very thin. It is also only deep enough in the pot to cover about 1/3 of the wheel.

After a complete round, the center is still uncovered. That's OK with me because I need some way to hold on to it with out getting hot wax all over me. I have heard that there are women who pay money for that.......

This picture is not very good but the gist is that I take a Teflon brush and spread wax over the middle hole. It doesn't take long for the wax to cool. It will still be warm and a little soft but you can handle it gently.

I think that I have read somewhere that you should ALWAYS use a natural bristle brush to coat the cheese. Whatever........ I have tried that and those brushes shed their bristles. It is just not very appealing to find a hair-like bristle stuck on your cheese. This Teflon basting/pastry brush works wonderfully. I store it in a Ziploc bag after the wax has cooled. As soon as I dip it back in the hot wax, it is good to go.

I repeat this process two or three times until the wax is bright red and I am sure that I have gotten the whole wheel covered and air tight.

I am sure that you could probably do this with a bigger crock pot. Maybe dip it in one side at a time. I am not particularly coordinated or neat so it is best if I make the target area as small as possible......

Now to pop it in the cooler and wait for three months ( at least--- longer if you want it sharp) to see how it turns out. I will have to turn it over on a pretty regular basis.

I am going to try to get some cheddar made several times until the weather gets too hot to stay in the kitchen. It's a thought anyway... I'll let you know how it works out.......

After I get several wheels going, I will transfer the oldest ones to a converted refridgerator for the long haul.


  1. That is super cool! You are so multi-talented and so wise! Now I can see why really good artisan cheese is so pricey!

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    1. I just can't type, tonight!
      Thank you, my friend. I am going to ration this stuff out to the kids. I really hope this stuff turns out well because I would like to have an open house/cheese party next fall. Know anybody that might come????