Yes, I really DO do other things besides fondle curds, but right now, it's a bit of an obsession, so please bear with me.
As I wrote about on Sunday night, I made a batch of "Stirred-Curd" Cheddar on Saturday and set it under, at the end, 51 lbs of pressure for 24 hours.
That brings this story to Sunday night, around 9:30 pm, 24 hours later.
Time to remove all the weight, eliminate the risk of further damage to the rest of my worldly possessions, peel off the cheesecloth, and see how the curds look at this point.
Here they are, still wrapped, in the basket mold. It's a bit hard to tell, but if you look closely, you can see that there's much less of a slant to this one, which means the curds were pressed more evenly across the surface. Maybe all those crashes were beneficial in some way – they let me know the curd mass was sloping (hence the crash), and when I restacked the weights on top, I tried to correct that slope. Still…I would be happy to avoid such crashes in the future.
I peeled the cheesecloth away, and here's my mass of pressed curds. I'm pretty pleased this time around – the whole thing looks much nicer than the first one. Live and learn, right? And add more weight!
The one thing I wasn't thrilled about was this lumpy look on the bottom. It's from where the folded ends of cheesecloth were, and as the weight pressed down and compressed everything, the cheesecloth left lumpy impressions on that side of the curd mass.
So I sliced that section off. Here's part of it.
Bill and I ate the trimmed portion, and you know what? It tasted like cheese. Very mild, slightly tangy cheese. Isn't that cool???
("He called me 'Howard!'" "Well, that is your name." Name that movie.) Yes, I am THAT goofy about all this.
So, to return to the cheesemaking portion of our program, after trimming off the lumpy part, I placed the curd mass – or I guess I could call it cheese now – on a sushi mat on top of a cutting board and in the pantry. The next day (yesterday) I noticed that the rind is already forming, and for whatever reason, it's easier to see on this cheese. See the darker yellowish parts around the perimeter of the cheese? That's rind, my friends!
So that's where I am now. Air drying the cheese until the rind covers the whole thing, and then I'll wax this one, and label it, and at that point we'll probably set up the "cave" in the basement. I've got the first cheese aging in the close, as I think I mentioned in another post. It's where we store wine when we have enough to store, and the temperature is cool and isn't prone to great fluctuations. Once the cheeses are in the chest freezer/cave I'll be better able to control the humidity as well.
And with any luck, I'll be making another batch of cheddar of some kind this weekend.
Before the weekend comes, though, I'm also thinking of making up a batch of my own mesophilic starter, which I can store in the freezer and replenish on my own, rather than ordering more and more packets from supply companies.
ANNNNNNNNNND…I think I'll make cream cheese. Haven't done that yet, and it seems like a nice little soft cheese project.
I'll keep you posted.