How is home cheese making different from commercial?
Home cheese making differs from commercial cheese making in scale and in the need to produce exact duplicate products day after day for retail markets. Commercial cheese makers employ the same raw ingredients as home cheese makers, but they must follow local certifications and regulations. If you wish to sell your cheese, we suggest you start making simple cheeses, do as much reading as you can and visit cheese makers in your area.
How do I start making cheese?
We always encourage people to start with a small investment and proceed from there. For this, we have all of your basic cheese making equipment available.
Rennet is added to further encourage the milk to solidify. It will cause the milk to coagulate when mixed with milk between the temperatures of 95º - 105º. Curds are cut into cubes by using a curd knife. Cutting the curds encourages them to expel liquid, or whey. Generally, the smaller the curds are cut, the harder the resulting cheese will be. Soft cheeses like Camembert or Brie are hardly cut at all. Harder cheeses like Cheddar and Gruyere are cut into a very fine texture.
This special salt melts easily and contains no iodine. Iodine will kill the lactic bacteria in the aging process and it is the lactic bacteria that is important to the proper aging of cheese. What we are looking for in “Cheese Salt” is one that will not dissolve too quickly or slowly. If a fine grain salt is used it will dissolve very quickly, creating a very high brine content near the curd surface, and will impede the movement of salt into the cheese. Too coarse a grain will dissolve too slowly and not control the culture bacteria activity. A moderate crystal size is what we have sourced for our cheese salt here. Cheese salt adds flavor and also acts as a preservative so the cheese does not spoil during long months or years of aging. It also helps a natural rind to form on the cheese. There are several ways to use salt. Cheese salt can be added directly into the curd as the cheese is being made. The outside of the wheel of cheese can be rubbed with cheese salt or with a damp cloth that has been soaked in brine. The cheese can also be bathed directly in vat of brine.
Molding the cheese is the process of putting it into a basket or a mold to form it into a specific shape. During this process, the cheese is also pressed with weights or a machine to expel any remaining liquid. When pressing, simply apply pressure until droplets of clear whey form in the openings and drip onto your runoff plate. Make sure it does not appear too milky, as you’ll squeeze out butterfat. As the run off slows, add more pressure. Keep adjusting this to get a fully consolidated cheese. Finally, look at the finished cheese. If it is not consolidated well, apply more pressure to the next batch.
Ripening is the process of aging the cheese until it reaches optimal ripeness. The temperature and humidity of the room is very important and should be monitored closely. For some cheeses, you will need to wax them to prevent unwanted mold growth while retaining moisture in the aging cheese. This wax is pliable and will not become brittle as will pure paraffin wax. For some cheeses, ambient molds in the air give the cheese a distinct flavor. For others, mold is introduced by spraying it on the cheese (brie) or injecting it into the cheese (blue cheese). Some cheeses must be turned, some must be brushed with oil, and some must be washed with brine or alcohol.
To double or triple your batch, you should be able to increase amounts of culture and rennet proportionately. The times and temperatures should be close to what the recipes call for. Brining time is simply a matter of scale - increase proportionate to cheese volume. As in life, nothing works perfectly, so you may need to tweak the recipes a bit. We recommend keeping good notes.