Category Archives: Semi-soft

Sharp End of the Cheddar – March 19, 2016

I was going through some recipes a friend gave me and came across; “How to make sharp cheddar cheese“, by Ally Heers. Just last week I received two Mesophilic cultures: MM100 and C61 Meso type II, so decided to make this recipe with each culture. Making two cheeses at once keeps you on your toes to make sure the temps are always correct.  Below you will find the tweaked recipe and the things I did to make both of the cheeses.

  • 1 gallon of whole milk (2 gallons Safeway and Lucerne milk)
  •  1/8 tsp mesophilic culture (MM100, C61)
  • 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
  • 1/4  tsp rennet
  •  1 tablespoon of salt
  • Begin warming milk, add calcium chloride somewhere before 90°. I added at about 86° a few minutes before it reached 90.sharpcheedarmilk
  • Warm the milk to 90 F using a double boiler. Add 1/8 tsp  of mesophilic culture. Allow a couple minutes for the culture to
    re-hydrate. Mix thoroughly with a whisk or spoon in an up and down motion, the culture must be distributed evenly throughout the milk. Be careful not to stir it!
  • Let the milk ripen for 1 hour.
  • Put the 1/4 tsp of rennet into 1/4 cup of distilled water at least 20 mins before using. Slowly pour the rennet into the milk over a slotted spoon. Stir constantly in an up and down motion. Stir for several minutes.
  • Let the milk set for 1 to 2 hours. After 1 hour, I checked and it was reasonably firm but decided to go for 2 hours to let the flavor develop. Once a firm curd is set and a clean break can be cut, take a long knife and cut the curds into 1/4 inch cubes. (Curd for MM100 firmer)
  • Allow the curds to set for 15 minutes.
  • Slowly raise the milk to 102° F. It will take 45 minutes to raise the milk to this temperature. While you wait, gently stir the curds occasionally so they do not mat together. Cook the curds at 102° F for another 45 minutes. Keep stirring the curds every few minutes so they do not mat. (Strange thing happened here, I checked the PH,  MM100 was a 4.86 and the C61 was PH 6.05)
  • Drain the whey by pouring through a cheesecloth lined colander. Do this quickly without letting the curds to mat.
  • Put the curds back into the pot at 102 F. Separate any curds that have matted together. Add the tablespoon of salt and stir together. Keep the curds at temperature for 1 hour stirring occasionally. (I stirred every 5 mins, easiest to set a timer. This allowed me to sit most of this hour and not lose track of time.)
  • Gently put the curds into your cheesecloth lined mold.
  • Press the cheese at about 20 lbs. for 45 minutes. Remove the cheese and flip it. Press the cheese again at about 30 lbs. for 3 hours. Remove the cheese and flip it. Press the cheese for the third time at about 30-40 lbs. for 15 hours. (recipe originally called for 24 hrs but I didn’t want cheese to dry into the cheesecloth also called for more weight in final press.)
  • Remove the cheese from the press. Place the cheese on a cheese board and let dry at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. (waiting for it to dry)
  • Wax the cheese and age it in your refrigerator for 3 to 24 months. Remember the longer the cheese is aged the sharper it will taste! Every few days flip the cheese.

Make Notes:

Wheels after pressing.
Wheels after pressing.

The MM100 curd was very creamy with a sweet salty taste sort of like sour cream and it finished with 1.2 lbs of curd after pressing.

The C61 finished pressing with a firmer feel and the curd tasted a bit like a havati. Finished with 1.5 lbs of curd after pressing. Of course I could have my cultures mixed up, so when we taste the cheese, we will have to remake my favorite to try to duplicate.

Update: June or July and beyond.

Belper Knolle – Back Again – February 27th, 2016

Belper Knolle Beginning to dry
Belper Knolle Beginning to dry

After I had several requests from friends to make some more Belper Knolle, I finally remade it. It’s funny that it took me a year almost to the day to remake them. They look like black snowballs, but taste much better.

It contains crushed garlic and Himalayan Pink Salt, covered in Crushed black peppercorns. The last batch got sealed in seal-a-meal bags and worked as a nice spread on crackers and never really dried out to the right texture.  This batch I’m going to try to dry them for a while before sealing up.  I might seal 1 or 2 up early but the rest will have to wither and dry.  We look forward to tasting them.

Some in plastic, some to dry further
Some in plastic, some to dry further

Trappist Style – Saint Paulin – February 26, 2016

After 30 days of washing with B. Linens
After 30 days of washing with B. Linens

Trappist Style Cheese is named for the Trappist Monks that originally made the cheese. They were each named for the particular monastery such as Port Salut, Saint-Paulin.

These cheeses have a distinctive orange color and a smelly locker room kind of a smell, but the taste is worth the smell.

The recipe calls for 2 cultures or a blend of Thermophilic and Mesophilic cultures. For this make I chose MA4002 which is a blend. I also chose a combination of milk 3/4 gallon goat and 1/2 gallon grocery store whole milk.

At this time I didn’t have any B. Linens so I just washed it with brine. I did this for about 6 weeks before I grew tired of washing it just waxed it.

I left it in wax for 2 months until I took an advanced cheese making class and the teachers were really down on wax.  So I came home from the class and un-waxed this wheel and decided to  wash it with beer (New Belgium 1554). Every couple days I would wipe it down with a wet paper towel of beer.  The bottle lasted about 3 weeks and I continued with regular brine for another couple weeks before it looked really good. Then I put it in a seal-a-meal bag and forgot about it.

Update: Here we are 8 months later and I have tasted it a couple times and it is awesome. The rind is a little funky and adds to the mystery of this 1 pound wheel.  I have done a triple batch of Trappist and have a lot more to say about this style, so see the next Trappist entry.


Guido’s Cheese – Groundhog Day 2016

Guido’s recipe from “Home cheese making” p 146 seems to be a favorite of many, yet somehow I waited 18 months before I got around to making it. When we ended up with a snow day on February 2nd, it seemed like the natural choice.

Started with 2 gallons of King Soopers whole milk, TA-61 Thermophilic culture, Calcium Chloride , and some animal rennet.  Heat the milk to 80° and then add the culture, let set for 30 mins. Continue to heat milk to 90°, add Calcium Chloride, mix,  and add the rennet.

After a clean break, heat to 120° for 40 mins.

Once we add the curds to the forms,  press at 3 lbs for 15 mins. and flip, another 15 mins and flip again, and again. Pressing lasts a full 24 hrs.

The recipe called for 24 hrs of brining, but I was going away on vacation so my Guido’s cheese went on vacation with me. I have several Tupperware that nicely fit my 2 pound wheels, so it worked out fine.  I was able to dry the wheel for a couple days on a plate covered by the Tupperware to get it ready for waxing.  I brought home the wheel in the empty Tupperware. I decided to wax it right away and get it into the frig for aging.

The aging is 4-6 weeks.

Note: A week or so after I made this wheel, I was on a cheese forum and they were discussing this recipe and several people said the brining  was way too long and that the cheese will come out salty.  They suggested 2 hours of brining per pound of cheese.

We will see how it comes out.



Havarti For the New Year – January 3, 2016

Havarti with a little mold
Havarti with a little mold, don’t ignore your frig!

Recently we were tasting some wine and had a cheese plate, it was Havarti and it was wonderful.  So I decided to try to make some Havarti. I found a recipe on-line  and printed it out.

In hindsight, now looking at my notes, I’m not sure I can recreate this cheese or even give a good account of making it because my notes are somewhat sketchy, however I did take some PH readings and there were some PH markers in the recipe.  So, I’m going to hit the points of this recipe that stand out and just plan to remake the recipe soon.

Basics of Ingredients:

  • culture I used C101
  • 2 gallons of milk
  • 1/2 tsp rennet
  • Heat to 86°

Milk PH after heat was 6.1. The curd quickly broke down to very fine rice even though I didn’t cut it that way.  After you have stirred curd for 15 minutes remove 1/3 of the whey and add 130° water to bring the milk up to 100° over 10 minutes. Now add 1/2 oz of salt and stir for 15-30 minutes.

Drain whey and place in mold with 8 pounds of weight. I flipped at 15 min intervals 3 times. Then flipped at 60 min intervals 3 times. Then it get submerged in cold water over night. You are shooting for a PH of 5.2, I was at 5.37 and I figured that was good enough.

Brine for 5-6 hours. Dry and frig.

I put this into an aging box in my frig and turned and wiped it with brine every day for the first couple days.  Then I left it a few days at a time before wiping with brine.  Then time got away from me and it sat for a week and half.  I came back to mold on the outside.  I wiped with brine but the outside of the cheese was very soft and the mold only partially came off.  I decided the only course of action was wax.

The recipe says 10-14 weeks till mature and as I write this it has been 6, so look for more notes in a month on how it came out.


Colby Jack – October 18th

Jack on the left, Colby on the right.
Jack on the left, Colby on the right.
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Push the curds into the mold.
Just at the flip and it already looks good.
Decided to split in half and then brine.
Bagged and Sealed ready for the frig.
Bagged and Sealed ready for the frig.

I made a Colby earlier this summer and it tasted ok, but not great.  It was a little crumbly and not much taste, but tasted really great melted on burgers. So I wasn’t rushing to make more, but when I pulled a large block of Colby Jack out of the Frig this weekend and my wife told me how much she likes Colby Jack, it came to the top of the hit list.

The “Art of Cheese” had a Colby class in April where I received the Colby and Monteray Jack recipes. The mix of the two cheeses was kind of exciting, so I started with that recipe.

I used 2 gallons of whole $1.99 milk for each cheese. You can see in the top picture, the  probe for the thermometer is draped across both pots.  It was a real pain swapping it back and forth.  If I continue to make cheese I will need another thermometer!

As I poured out the Annatto for the Colby I was sure I needed more, but resisted the urge to add more.  I’m glad I didn’t, the color of the Colby came in perfect.  Recipes are there for a reason.

When the Colby came to the end of its cooking time and I poured off the whey, I decided to leave it in the bottom of the cooking pot still sitting in the water bath to keep the curds warm.  I left a little whey to assist in the warming process.

The Jack settled nicely as the last step is to leave it alone for  thirty minutes, so when I poured out the whey they stayed together pretty well. Once most of the whey was gone I poured everything into to the Colby pot and began mixing.  I quickly scooped out the mixed curds into the cheesecloth lined mold and pressed with 15 lbs. With just an hour of pressing it looked so cool I had to take a picture.

I pressed the wheel for 11 hours before cutting it in half and brining both pieces.  In the morning I pulled them out and put them into the frig for the day to dry.  That night I put them in quart seal-a-meal bags sent them to the cheese cave for 3 months.

They look great already and I have high hopes they will taste great too.

Updated: February 2016, tried cheese and it is a fail.  It is crumbly, and not a great taste.  Maybe after 6 or 8 months we will try it again.

White Cheddar – September 20, 2015

Drained curds sitting at temperature, ready to flip.
Drained curds sitting at temperature, ready to flip.

Q: What makes cheddar white?  A: Nothing. White cheddar doesn’t have any added ingredients for color.

Q:What makes cheddar orange?  A: Annatto.  A tasteless liquid dye that gets added to Milk before the rennet is added.

Todays project is some more cheddar, but I decided not to add any Annatto to the batch.  I’m still waiting to see how full-strength and half-strength Annatto look in a 2 gallon batch of cheese.

The recipe is for stirred curd cheese from Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking book p.266-267. I was looking for a more complex cheddar recipe that required flipping and heating of the curds once the whey had been removed. This recipe had the added benefit that it came with PH readings for many steps.

I have also been trying to solve the soft set curd I am getting from store milk, so I doubled the Calcium Chloride to 1 tsp and added a dash of Lipase powder. Overall the set was a little soft even after 90 minutes so I might bump up the CaCl2 and Rennet.  As a test I could double everything except culture and salt and try again.  If I do I’ll let you know.


  • 1 packet mesophilic culture
  • 1 tsp Calcium Chloride
  • 1/8 tsp Lipase powder
  • 1/2 tsp Rennet, plus 3 drops
  • 2-3 tsp cheese salt

Quick Recipe:

  • Heat milk to 80°, add culture, starting PH 6.68
  • continue heat to 86, add CaCl2, add lipase, add rennet
  • set to clean break
  • cut to 3/8 inch
  • cook at 86° for 15 mins, stir
  • raise to 96° cook to PH is 6.2 –  45-75 minutes, stir
  • drain and push to side(see photo above)
  • Flip every 15 mins until PH is 5.4
  • Cut up curds into thick french fry size and add half of the salt
  • Set for 10 mins add other half salt.
  • Eat or Press…
Curds in Seal-a-meal bags. Ranch curds and Garlic and Bacon.
Curds in Seal-a-meal bags. Ranch curds and Garlic and Bacon.

For some of the curds I added flavor and bagged, the rest went into the press for a cheddar wheel.

Overall, the taste was great, right out of  the vat, so I have to say this recipe was good.

I pressed the wheel over-night and it looked like it needed more so I pressed it throughout the day and pulled it out that night. It has a good shape and a nice sharp smell already. I think I will put it into the cheese frig for a day or so and then wax it.

I left a lot out of the recipe, so if you are interested in making this cheese, see the detailed directions in the book.