First, you’ll need some equipment. You may have some of these items around the house, or see our Cheese Making Supplies.
The items you'll need are listed below:
- Hard Cheese Mold
- Vegetable Rennet Tablets
- Cheese Cloth
- Mesophilic Culture
- 12” Curd Knife
- Laboratory Thermometer
- Cheese Salt
- Calcium Chloride
- Coloring for Cheese
- Cheese Wax
- Cheese Brush
- 6 to 8 quart Stainless steel pot (Aluminum or cast iron will not work)
- A Cheese Press is optional, but will make the pressing step much easier.
Traditional Cheddar Cheese Recipe
Hard Cheddar Cheese is firm in texture as the result of the removal of a high percentage of moisture during the cheese making process. They are pressed and aged for a varying lengths of time for full flavor development. Making Cheddar requires an investment in time and equipment but is well worth the effort.
- 2 Gallons Whole Milk (low-fat or skim milk will not work)
- 1 Packet direct-set Mesophilic Starter
- 1 teaspoon liquid rennet, diluted in 1 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons Cheese Salt
- Cheese Wax
- Heat the milk to 86ºF. Add the starter and stir well. Cover and allow the milk to ripen for 45 minutes.
- Make sure the milk’s temperature is 86ºF. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with a up-and-down motion for a minute. If you are using farm fresh cow’s milk, top-stir for several minutes longer. Cover and let set, undisturbed for 45 minutes.
- Cut the curd into ¼” slices. Allow the curds to set for 5 minutes.
- Slowly heat the curds to 100ºF, increasing the temp by no more than two degrees every 5 minutes.
- Once the curds have reached 100ºF, maintain the temperature and continue stirring for 30 minutes longer. Allow the curds to set for 20 minutes.
- Pour the curds and whey into a colander. Place the colander of curds back into the pot and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Remove the colander form the pot and place the mass of curd on the cutting board. Cut the curd into 3” slices. Put the pot into a sink full of 100ºF water. Place the slices in the pot and cover the pot. Maintain the curds at 100ºF, turning every 15 minutes, for two hours.
- The curd slices should now be tough and have a texture similar to that of chicken meat. Break the slices into ½” cubes and put the back in the pot. Put the pot back into a sink full of 100ºF water and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring the curds with your fingers every 10 minutes. Do not squeeze the curds. Just stir them to keep them from matting.
- Remove the pot from the sink. Add the salt and stir gently.
- Line your Hard Cheese Mold with cheese cloth. Place the curds in the mold. Press at 10 lbs. of pressure for 15 minutes. Ideally, you would use one of our cheese presses for this step. If you don’t have one, you’ll need some other way to put pressure on the curds in the mold. You might try wrapping bricks in aluminum foil, but keep in mind that the mold is about 4.5” wide, and that you’ll eventually be putting 50 lbs. of bricks on top of the mold. If this is a hobby you’ll be active in for a while, you may want to consider investing in a press.
- Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheese cloth. Turn over the cheese, Re-dress it, and press at 40 lbs. of pressure for 24 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheese cloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 50 lbs. of pressure for 24 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the mold. Peel away the cheese cloth. Air-dry the cheese at room temperature for 2-5 days, until it is dry to the touch.
- Wax the Cheese. Age the cheese at 50-55ºF for 3 to 12 months. The longer you age it, the sharper its flavor.
How to Make Cheddar Cheese at Home - PDF