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.
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.
Cheddar “slabs” stacked, but not criss-crossed.
Slabs are stacked on top of each other, doubling their height. They are flipped over every 15 minutes for the next 90 minutes.
The layers knit together as they are cooked and flipped.
Slabs cut into strips before cooking. I should have gone one step further and cut everything into cubes. Maybe next time …
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.
Cheddar cheese curds before pressing.
Cheese under 40 pounds of pressure. The weight pushes whey out of the cheese, making the final cheese both dryer and firmer.
Cheddar cheese that has been air dried for about 24 hours.
I want to make cheese for all of my friends. This is part two in my attempt to accommodate my friends who can’t eat dairy products.
Vegan cheddar begins the same way as vegan yogurt: lots of cashews!
Oh, and a few extra ingredients:
I blended everything together and heated the resulting “cashew goo” on my stove. This mixture was then poured into my cheese press to give it shape. Finally, the cheese was air-dried for a few days.
Vegan cheddar “curds” in the cheese press
Vegan cheese that has been air dried for about three days.
I was happy with the turnout, but I would do a few things differently the next time I make this:
I doubled the recipe from the book, and I don’t think all the cashews were ground up in the second round of blending. Next time: I won’t double the recipe.
The yogurt I used was thinner than I was expecting (see Part 1). Next time: I’ll either buy soy yogurt from the store or spend more time focusing on the cashew yogurt so it thickens a bit more.
I noticed that I cooked some of the cheese to the bottom of my pot while heating. Next time: I’ll use a double boiler setup to distribute heat more evenly.
I only “pressed” the cheese on one side, leading to one smooth side and one rough side. Next time: I want to press for a few minutes on both sides.
The book told me to rub salt on the cheese before air drying, but I think this led to the cracks you see on the sides. Next time: I want to apply salt with a brine solution instead (I would normally do this with a dairy cheese)