Cheddar is the most time-consuming cheese that I’ve made so far. I’ve made two now, and both times required about 9 hours of work before I could let it sit in the press.
What sets Cheddar apart from other cheeses is the “cheddaring” process, which pushes out as much whey as possible out of the cheese curd. This process makes for a very firm, dry (hard) cheese. Here is how it works: formed cheese curds are cut into “slabs” and layered on the bottom of the pot. The slabs are flipped every 15 minutes to push as much whey as possible out of the bottom of the stack. After 90 minutes, the stacks are milled into 1/2 inch cubes and heated again to push out even more whey.
At this point the cheese curds are very firm and rubbery, and must be pressed for about 36 hours to remove more whey and so the cubes can merge together. The exterior of the cheese was bumpy, which I’m not used to seeing. I’ve decided not to worry, since the interior was fairly smooth and solid. Cheddar needs to age for at least three months, so I won’t know how it really turned out until the beginning of December.
Next cheese: Havarti!