Colby Jack is a semi-hard cheese with a marbled look that is created by combining curds from Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses. I think the most challenging part of this cheese is running two cheeses in parallel and hoping that they both finish at the same time. If you decide to make this cheese, I recommend trying Colby and Monterey Jack individually and taking notes to help get the timing down.
Here are my notes from this cheese, along with a few pictures I took during the make:
4 gallons of milk split between two pots
Cheese coloring is what makes cheese orange. I dilute it with some milk before adding to the Colby pot
Curds mixed together in the pot for an even distribution
Colby Jack pressing at 25 pounds of pressure
The finished cheese with a distinct marbled pattern
I was asked to make a few cheeses for a wedding coming up in October. Here is the first cheese, an Asiago Pepato. I started with a two gallon batch for practice, and to work out any bugs in my process. Then I scaled up the recipe to make a 4 gallon batch.
The smaller cheese has a single layer of peppercorns in the middle. I didn’t think this would be enough for the larger cheese, so I decided to use two layers of peppercorns instead.
The photo below shows a side-by-side view of both cheeses.
I’ve been wanting to post about cheesecake for several months now, and what better time than just after Thanksgiving? Rather than just posting pictures with a brief description, this post will walk you through my cheesecake recipe step-by-step.
It takes several days to make a cheesecake, so I recommend planning ahead. Several of these steps can be performed in parallel, but I usually like to make the cream cheeses one at a time.
Pour 1 quartheavy cream into a 1 quart saucepan and warm to 65°F. Sprinkle the contents of 1mesophilic culture packet on top of the cream. Wait 5 minutes before stirring thoroughly.
Dilute one dropliquid rennet in 2 tablespoonsdistilled water. Add to cream and stir with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute. Cover and let sit for 24 hours.
Line a colander with a large square of cheesecloth. Pour half of the cream into the colander and sprinkle with 1 teaspoonsalt. Pour the rest of the cream into the colander and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoonsalt.
Tie together the corners of the cheesecloth to create a bag. Hang the bag to drain for 12 hours.
Untie the bag and place the drained curd into a mold lined with a clean square of cheesecloth. Press at 10 pounds of pressure for 4 – 6 hours.
Remove the cheese from the press, peel back the cheesecloth, and refrigerate until needed.
Pour the half and half into the 1 gallon pot and warm to 85°F. Sprinkle the contents of the remaining mesophilic culture packet on top of the cream. Wait 5 minutes before stirring thoroughly.
Dilute remaining 3 dropsrennet in 1/3 cupdistilled water. Add 1 teaspoon of the diluted rennet to the cream and stir with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute. Cover and let sit for 12 hours. The remaining rennet mixture can be discarded.
Heat 2 – 3 quarts of water to 170°F. Add enough hot water to the curdled cream to raise its temperature to 125°F.
Line a colander with a large square of cheesecloth. Pour the cream into the colander and tie the cheesecloth into a bag. Hang the bag to drain for 12 hours.
Peel the cheesecloth off of the cheese and refrigerate until needed.
Pour remaining 1 cupheavy cream into the medium mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until it separates into butter and buttermilk. Discard the buttermilk and rinse the butter with cold water to remove remaining milk. Refrigerate butter until needed.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Melt butter in the microwave or over the stove. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cocoa. Press mixture onto bottom and sides of the springform pan. Set aside.
Add cheeses to the large mixing bowl and beat until smooth using an electric mixer. Gradually add the condensed milk, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until smooth.
Toss 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips with 1 teaspoonflour to prevent sinking. Mix into the cheese mixture.
Pour cheese mixture into the crust and sprinkle the top with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake at 300°F for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let cake sit for 1 additional hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Refrigerate before removing sides of pan.
If you have ever purchased a wedge of Gouda, then you may have noticed that the cheese tends to have a smooth, round curve on one end.
Standard cheese molds make flat, pill-tablet shaped cheeses with a corner and not a round edge. I’ve heard there are tricks you can use to simulate a bowl-shaped mold, but they never really worked for me. So I set out to learn how the Dutch cheesemakers shape their cheese. The answer? A special cheese mold. So I bought one.
The first thing I noticed during unpacking is that this mold included a mesh netting, meaning curds don’t need to be wrapped in cheesecloth while pressing. This netting can be removed for cleaning, and I actually found it easier to work with.
The downside? This mold is 2 – 3 times more expensive than other cheese molds I’ve purchased. I like to think that part of this cost was importing from Holland, but I justified it by reminding myself that this is a one-time purchase. And it really does make beautifully shaped cheeses.
Pepper jack cheese is basically Monterey jack with extra peppers mixed in. I mixed up some jalapeño and red pepper flakes and worked them into the cheese before pressing. This cheese needs to age until late November before it can be enjoyed.
My goal as a cheese maker is to make delicious cheese for all of my friends, including those who can’t eat dairy due to severe allergies or chronic veganism. Let’s start cashew yogurt.
Cashew yogurt seems pretty easy. Just mix together the cashews and almond milk, add heat, culture with existing yogurt and then leave somewhere warm for a few hours.
If you leave the yogurt in the oven for too long, and then forget to refrigerate overnight the yogurt will separate.
So let’s reread the recipe and try again. My first mistake: I didn’t soak the cashews in water to soften them before blending. Also, soy milk is recommended over almond milk for making cheese. So I made these changes and left the yogurt in the oven for a little less time. The result was a little thin, but actually looked and smelled like yogurt!
I would do a few things differently if I ever make cashew yogurt again:
Cashews are soaked in water to make them easier to grind up in the blender. I soaked these for about 4 hours, and I still noticed some cashew flakes floating around in the end. Next time: soak cashews longer.
I used cultured coconut milk as my yogurt starter. This might have led to some problem getting the yogurt to thicken. Next time: use either soy yogurt as the starter or find a vegetarian yogurt culture packet.
I left the yogurt in the oven for about 6 hours to firm up, which may also have led to my thickening problems. Next time: leave the yogurt near the light for the full 8 hours.
Farmhouse Cheddar is cheddar with a few shortcuts. Traditional cheddar is waxed and aged for three to six months before enjoying, but farmhouse cheddar will be ready with just a few days of air drying.
Farmhouse cheddar is good for two weeks when refrigerated, but will last for up to three months if sealed in wax first. I’m not capable of eating three pounds of cheese within two weeks all by myself, so I decided to try waxing! As a bonus, this gave me valuable experience in what to do … and what not to do. Wax is flammable and can only be melted safely with a pseudo-double boiler. Be very careful! Steam rising out of the lower pot could scald you, and cause you to drop the cheese into liquid wax out of reflex. It could be messy:
I still don’t want to eat an entire cheese by myself, even after aging, so I cut the wheel into quarters first. Aging cheese makes it sharper, so every piece I peel open should have a subtly different flavor. I’ve just reached the most difficult step of cheese making: deciding how long I want to wait before digging in!
Ready for waxing!
Dip cheese into melted wax then put on wax paper to dry. Repeat until entire cheese is waxed, using the paintbrush to seal in any gaps.
Cheese can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Queso fresco (Spanish for “fresh cheese”) is a Central American cheese, and can be used when making quesadillas. I started with three gallons of milk, which should give me three pounds of cheese in the end. I spent the entire afternoon working on this cheese, and it still needs to press for five more hours. I’ll be staying up until past midnight just so I can refrigerate the result. Hopefully I can keep myself awake that long …
Chemicals used for queso fresco (7/3/2014) Shot glasses (left to right): calcium chloride, mesophyllic starter, lipase powder Bowls (left to right): rennet solution, cheese salt
Queso fresco curds right before pressing.
Queso fresco that has been pressed for 1 hour
Queso fresco will be pressed under 30 pounds of weight for 6 hours.