Today's milk was strained directly into my biggest stainless steal pot.
Step One in cheese making is to get out there and get about five gallons of milk. I got about two gallons from the ladies this morning so I had to heat up some of the half gallon jars of milk I had downstairs in our coldest fridge.
Warming up the jars - a half gallon at a time.
Heating up the cold milk is easy enough. Just put them in deep pots and fill with warm water - let the milk warm up a bit (don't break the jars!) and then heat up the water to get the milk warmed to the right temperature. Goat milk cheddar starts with 88* milk so I also used a water bath to get all the milk up to the right temperature.
My biggest pot needs my biggest roaster as a water bath.
Cheese making is a long process but most of the time is letting it set so its easy to just go about your day - just take the timer with you.
After adding the culture I let it set for about 40 minutes. Actually I started a focaccia bread (in the oven now - its a 3 goat cheese version), cleaned up the kitchen, and went and did some laundry. The next step was to add the calcium chloride and rennet. Thirty minutes later I checked for a clean break and then... you know it... I cut the cheese (curds)! Its always my favorite step.
Use your longest knife to cut the curds.
Next comes the business of slowly heating the curds and stirring continuously for about 45 minutes. I was very happy with this batch because I was able to get to the right temperature (102*) in the right amount of time. Then there is more letting it set.
Take out most of the whey. No way? Yes, whey.
After the curds have sunk to the bottom I used a measuring cup to take up most of the whey. I probably took off about 3 gallons. More stirring, more letting the curds set.
See how much whey is removed from the pot!?!
And that's when it fell apart. The last step was letting the curds rest and they were supposed to all mat together at the bottom of the pan... but darn! They didn't. I gave it another couple tries but the curds just didn't set up right. I tried one of the curds, curious to see what happened. Then there it was - the possible cause: Tough Curds. That's right. They were squeaky and a little tough. One of my references says that it might have been because there was too much rennet or the temperatures were too high.
Curds, no whey, ready to be pressed.
I was also disappointed at the yield. As you can see it didn't even fill half of the mold. I went ahead with the rest of the steps which were basically to put the curds in a mold, press for an hour, then "redress" the cheese (that just means to unwrap it from the cheese cloth, flip it over, and put it back in the press), and let it press over night. After its done pressing it will sit and dry for a couple days, cure for about a week, then get waxed.
Even tho this batch didn't set up correctly I'm still excited about this cheese. If I remember right I had a couple cheddars from last year that did the same thing. Even tho they didn't come out as a proper cheddars, I've been grating the cheese and using it like Parmesan! I'd be thrilled with a Proper Cheddar but really I'm hoping for another fakey-Parm. That will show that Rachel Ray and thwart her conspiracy to increase Parm prices! (Not really! love ya Rach!)
A couple things I'll do next time: First, I'm gonna break out another pot and start with 6 or 7 gallons of milk so that I get a bigger cheese. Next, I'll use a smaller amount of rennet. Then I need to make sure I have uniformly sized curds. And I'm gonna make sure that my darn curds mat together correctly.
That's all today in Cheese-land. Hope you had a great day!