Ok, so I’ll honest I had intended on making and posting some lent recipes, it didn’t really happen. I spent most of February making cheese. I have been making two types.
Fresh semi-soft herbed cheese.
I’ve been three different flavor profiles: garlic and chive, garlic and long pepper, and dill.
2 gallons of whole milk (grocery store, non ultra-pasteurized)
1/2 teaspoon of calcium chloride
1 packet of mesophilic culture
1/2 tablet of vegetable rennet
freeze-dried or dried herbs
large knife or curd cutter
cheese press (or cheese mold and weights)
In a very large pot add the calcium chloride to the milk. Warm to 90 degrees. I use a hot water bath in my sink to achieve this, if you use your stove be sure to warm the milk slowly, being sure not to scorch the milk. Once the milk is to temperature add the culture and let it sit on the surface of the milk for a few minutes before stirring it in.
Cover, and maintain the temperature at 90 degrees and let sit for an hour.
Dissolve rennet in a few tablespoons of water and add to the milk, stirring well.
Cover, and maintain the temperature at 90 degrees and let sit for an hour. After about 45mins you can check to see if the curd is set. It will make a clean cut and spring back if pressed. There may be some greenish liquid on top of the mass. Cut curds into one-inch cubes. Let the mass set for a few minutes, then put on the stove, set at low for an hour. Stir gently every twenty minutes. Curds will shrink and firm up.
Drain into a colander covered with a double layer of cheesecloth, then hang to drain for half an hour.
Break up curd, then salt until curds taste saltier than you think they should (some will leach out during pressing). Add desired herbs until you like the ways the curds taste.
Garlic: use freeze-dried, then grind.
Long Pepper: dried, then grind
Line cheese press with a single layer of cheese press, then fill with curds.
Press lightly for half an hour. Use enough pressure for curds to start to weep- about 5-10 lbs. (with my cheese press, the pressure I use is more of an educated guess. It’s spring that applies the pressure according to turning a handle)
Flip cheese and rewrap in cheesecloth. Press with around 15-20 lbs of pressure for an hour, once again, once it starts to weep.
Flip cheese once more and rewrap with cheesecloth. Press with about 30-35 lbs for 6-8 hours. I usually press it overnight.
Wrap cheese in dry cheesecloth or parchment paper. It should keep for a week or two.