Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Friday, March 30, 2007

Let's Cheddar

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.



At 09:34, Blogger Ur-spo said...

it still looks so marvelous.
try to make cheddar and adverb now.

At 12:26, Anonymous Mark H said...

DOUG! We have been thinking about this cheddar business but stumped on that command to keep it chilled at 50 degrees....how are you handling that? Is 50 a "must" temperature? Can it be in the fridge? Your post was fabulous (as usual) and now WE MUST try to make a cheese, as you've said, that's one of our favorites. THANKS.

At 16:20, Blogger Doug said...

Hey Mark,
The temperature is an issue. I have an unheated part of my cellar, walled off from the rest, that's generally in the 50-60 degree range. It's where I have been aging my cheese. I get the impression that the cheeses that are really finnicky about aging temperature are the ones that include mold cultures (bries, camemberts, and the various blue cheeses). I haven't tried any of them yet. There is an old bar fridge down in the basement that I will probably fire up if I need to go that route. The Gouda did just fine aging in the cellar. I'll keep you posted on how it goes with the cheddar.

At 15:37, Blogger rodger said...

If I can just get a day free I will make a cheddar. It looks like another week before I can try. I will definitely post about it once I get the opportunity to give it a try.

I think your sorbet from the previous post looks spectacular! I'm gaining weight just looking at that post. Arrrggghh.

At 16:26, Blogger Doug said...


Good luck with the cheddar.

The tangerine sorbet is very easy, and completely fat free. Mix:

3 c freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1 tsp grated tangerine zest
1 c sugar
2 Tlsp. light corn syrup

Heat gently (do not boil) and mix until the sugar dissolves. Chill in the refrigerator, then freeze in an ice cream maker.

At 01:34, Blogger rodger said...

Thanks Doug...I'm definitely making the sorbet.

At 04:52, Anonymous Lemuel said...

O, six months until you can eat the cheese! [he chews his knuckles in anguish] I can't wait that long for cheese! Gotta have cheese! Gotta have cheese! :)

I would never make it as a cheese maker, I like cheese too much and I am way too impatient.

At 08:50, Blogger Zanne said...

I'm fascinated by the cheese making process. You've given me the bug to try. The first thing I thought of for aging was bar fridge.

At 09:34, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Hi Zanne, Welcome to Gossamer Tapestry. Thanks for stopping by.


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