Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Well today is rainy and nasty, so what to do? Well we do happen to have an excess of milk (Goat) right now, how about making some more cheese. Today sounds like a Colby Cheese day.
First you have to start with four gallons of milk, poured into a large stock pot. I use a cold pack caner as double boiler, so as to not scorch my milk.
 Normally you would raise the temperature higher to pasteurize, but we pasteurize all of our milk, so this step is unnecessary. The milk is raised to 86 degrees and the Mesophilic starter culture is sprinkled over the surface of the milk and let stand for 3-5 minutes, to re-hydrate.

 At this time I need to tell you, Store you Rennet, Calcium Chloride, and Butter color in the refridgerator. Store your cultures and mold powders in the freezer.
After the re-hydrating mix well with the milk. I use the skimmer with up and down strokes not breaking the surface ( at least 20 strokes). Cover the milk and let this set for an hour at 86 degrees in order to ripen.
You can see in the picture some of the tools used including the skimmer, the curd knife (you can use any long blade, thermometer, and measuring spoons.
 Since I was talking about utensils, the picture below show the graduated spring loaded press screws, to me they were well worth the money spent on them.
While ripening the milk take 3/4 teaspoon of Calcium Chloride and mix with 1/4 cup cool water, also take 1/2 teaspoon of liquid Rennet and mix that with another 1/4 cup of water, not in the same container. The Calcium Chloride helps give the milk a consistent and firm curd, especially goat's milk.
 I prefer to use liquid vegetable rennet rather than the animal rennet made from the stomach of a calf.

Once the milk is ripened, poor the Water/Calcium Chloride into the milk and mix thoroughly with up and down strokes of the skimmer. After this add and mix in the Water/Rennet. The Rennet is what makes the milk curdle. Now is time for the milk to set for 30-45 minutes, mine usually sets in 30 minutes. use the clean break test shown in the following picture. push you finger into the milk curd at an angle and lift, if the break is straight and clean it's time to cut the curds, if not let set for another 15 minutes.

 The curds should be cut into 1/2 inch cubes (as close as you can. I cut one way then again at 90 degrees and then I use the skimmer and move back and forth throughout the curd mass to try to make the cubes.

This is the time to add the butter color, just a few drops in 1/4 cup water and mix gently. then let the curds settle for about 10-15 minutes. This is what gives the Colby in the store the yellow and white colors.

Start applying heat slowly as you stir the curds continue this process and slowly bring the curds and whey up to 104 degrees. Go SLOWLY, this part should take about 45 minutes. I have to continually adjust my heat and constantly stir the curds to keep them from matting. Another warning, Don't stir too vigorously, you will break the curds up and they are ruined, this is from personal experience. During this process the curds are getting firmer and smaller, about the size of a bean.  Once the Mass reaches 104 degrees remove from the heat and let settle for about 5-10 minutes.

After the settling process use a measuring cup (I use a four cup) and carefully remove only whey (the liquid) from the pot until you can see the top of the curds, then start adding the equal amount you removed of 104 degree clean water and stir for two minutes. This is called "cooking the curds". Then let the mass settle for 10-15 minutes. During this time place a piece of cheese cloth into a colander and at the end of the time pour the entire mass through the colander. As you can see in the picture I did not use the cloth as I had, due to poor scheduling let the mass settle for much longer.
Normally save the whey as there are several types of cheese that can be made from the whey or Chickens and pigs love the whey also, and it is nutricious for them.
After straining the curds fill two cheesecloth lined cheese presses, or one larger press, with approximately half the curds in each and press, or all in the one press, at low pressure (10-15 pounds) for one hour. At the end of the hour remove the cheese from the press and re-wrap the cheese, trying to smooth the cloth. This time press for 12 hours at high pressure (I use 50 pounds). The cheese cloth I use in the press is a plastic material, easy to clean and one side is rough to allow drainage the other smooth for a nicer wheel of cheese.
I place the presses onto a cookie sheet to catch the draining whey. While on the subject of presses, there are many types from expensive to very simple homemade ones. I have some good friends that just use 6" PVC pipe and a long turned piece of wood as a follower that they stack weight onto.

When the time is up remove the cheese from the presses and if you like now is the time to trim the corners of the wheels. I do this to make waxing easier. The cheese now needs to dry to the touch from one to three days.
Waxing can be accomplished in several ways, but I use a crock pot I purchased from a thrift store, just dipping one side, let cool and then the other side. build at least three layers of wax on your cheese. I usually place a paper label I make in between the last layer or two.

Age your cheese at a temperature between 50-54 degrees and at 86% humidity for six weeks to two months, it does get better with age. You should turn your cheese over daily at first then every three days and then weekly during the ripening time. I use a refredgerator for aging my cheese, I have kept my cheese for over a year with no undesirable issues. Be sure to watch for signs of mould or other less desirable stuff happening under the wax. and One of the benefits is the great eating awaiting. 
In this picture, a cheese and sausage omlett made with free range eggs from our hens and homemade Monteray Jack cheese, Can you say YUMMM!

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