I made cheese!

Jacob Allred

Farmhouse cheddar curds

Awhile back my wife and I saw a TV show that featured a lady that waxed cheese for long-term storage. Seeing as we love cheese, food storage, and DIY projects, we decided we also wanted to wax our own cheese. So I put some cheese stuff on my wishlist and my parents ended up getting it for me. Unfortunately, I discovered that you can’t really wax a block of cheap cheddar bought at Target. So I said fine, I’ll make my own dang cheese and wax it. I then realized I didn’t know how to make cheese, so I decided to take an all-day cheesemaking workshop offered by the self-proclaimed cheese queen, Ricki Carroll. It was a lot of fun!

The photo on the right is of me straining some curds for a farmhouse cheddar we made in class. We also made mozzarella, ricotta, crème fraîche… umm… some other cheeses… I don’t remember what all we made, but it is delicious. I of course got suckered into buying even more cheese-related merchandise, although I am proud of myself for refraining from purchasing the $280 cheese press.

Crème fraîche, straight from the bucket

On my way home from the workshop I ran by the grocery and bought some light cream so I could make crème fraîche for Becca and Anna to try. I was worried it wouldn’t turn out because they only sold ultra pasteurized light cream, but it turned out delicious! We’ve been eating it almost non-stop since it was ready.

The process was incredibly simple: heat the light cream on the stove, add the culture, stir it up, and stick it in an insulated bucket (or wrap in blankets or stick in stove with the light on, or whatever else you want to do to keep the temperature up over night). Let it sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

Draining the whey

We did this at about 9pm that night, so at about 9am the next morning I dumped the somewhat solid mass of cheese (yeah, it is technically a soured cream, but I’m going to call it a cheese anyway) into a strip of butter muslin (like cheesecloth but with a tighter weave) over a colander. I tied up the butter muslin and hung it from a hook so the whey could drip out over the next 4 hours.

I probably should’ve let it hang a little longer because it was a bit softer than I would have preferred, but I was impatient to try it out. It was great! We put it on some club crackers and munched through way more than we should have in a single sitting.

Anyways, next on the list is cheddar. We’ll have to buy or make a press in order to make a hard cheese, and it takes weeks and weeks to age before you can eat it, but I think it’ll be worth it.