As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I tried making a cheddar cheese last weekend. Among the things that I learned was that in addition to being a noun (I loves me a nice hunk of cheddar) and an adjective (cheddar cheese can be white or yellow), cheddar can also be a verb. To cheddar is to cook cheese curds over very low heat after most of the whey has been separated, and before they are molded and pressed.
Cheddaring the curds
Another thing that I have learned about the cheesemaking process involves the development of the curd. In the past, I’ve had problems with the cubes of curd being too soft to handle after cutting. The answer turns out to be simple. The longer that you leave the curd cubes sitting in the whey, the more whey they give off and the firmer they get. So if they are too soft, it’s simply a matter of letting them sit a bit longer.
A big misconception that I had about cheese before I started making it was that the various cheeses were different due to the bacterial cultures used. Although there are different cultures available, there are far fewer bacteria varieties than cheese varieties. My earlier Gouda and this cheddar both used the same culture. Among other differences, the Gouda curds are washed by partly draining them and adding back water. The cheddar curds are, well, cheddared. I wish I had started making cheese a long time ago, because it’s becoming apparent that this is a lifetime craft that one never stops learning or developing.
My cheddar in the press
Right now, my main problem with the cheddar is the time required for development. I will wax it tonight, then it needs to age anywhere from two to six months before it’s ready to eat.
Cheesemaking is going to be yet another exercise in patience.