Monday, June 11, 2012

Colby with Nancy Wolff

Nancy Wolff

Is it really that easy?!

Some folks just seem to be born to make cheese and Nancy Wolff is one of them.  The post below is her first "attempt" at making a hard cheese.  She makes it look so easy!  (Well, we've been saying it's easy for the last 38 years, but still...)

We were looking for an article about Colby because Jim Wallace, our technical advisor, added a detailed recipe for making Colby to our recipe page a few months ago.  So, between that and Nancy's tutorial here, you should have all the help you need to make this yummy cheese.

Nancy Wolff is a contributing editor for Prudent Living Magazine and she is the host for one of it's blogs - "On the Home Front."  According to her profile: 

Nancy lives in Vermont. During her 30 years of gardening, she has completed both the Master Gardener and the Master Composter programs offered through the state extension bureaus. She is interested in providing delicious, nutritious, chemical-free food for her family.
She gardens organically, and what food is not consumed immediately she tries to preserve to be enjoyed later. She loves walking into her pantry and seeing shelves filled with the garden’s bounty!

Prudent Living Magazine
We asked her how she got started making cheese:

I love learning how to do new things, especially making things from scratch. After taking a class called "Raw Dairy Processing" and seeing how easy it was to make delicious soft cheeses, yogurt and butter in my own kitchen I decided to move onto other cheeses.  

I've also mastered making bread, I've learned how to make pasta, I figured if I could learn how to make cheeses I could make a lasagna totally from scratch! After making mozzarella I wanted to try making a hard cheese. Hopefully the wait for my Colby Cheese will be worth it! 

Next on the list is cheddar! It's also part of "prudent living" to make things from scratch!  It was fun getting my husband involved as well, he made my cheese press from scrap lumber and my cheese mold from an large empty plastic jar!

Now that Nancy has mastered her first "hard" cheese, we hope to have her back with an even more advanced tutorial soon.  Thank you, Nancy. 

Frugal Tips: Making Colby Cheese
By Nancy Wolff at the Prudent Living blog - On the Home Front

I have learned to make yogurt, ricotta and mozzarella but several weeks ago decided to try making a hard cheese. Colby Cheese is a type of cheddar and only has to be aged from 2 to 3 months. Perfect for a first time cheese maker. It was rather a long process with a lot of heating the milk and then letting it set and then heating again. Once the curds were ready they had to be put in a cheese press. Being rather frugal my husband decided to make our cheese press and our cheese mold. He used some scraps of lumber to build the press and used a plastic jar to make the mold. Very creative and the press looked very professional by the time he was finished.

Homemade Cheese Press

The recipe I used was from the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, one of the best books around for home cheese makers.* This book will soon be available in our Home Front Store.

First the milk was heated to 86 degrees and the starter was added. The milk was covered and allowed to sit for an hour. Making sure the milk’s temperature was 86 degrees the rennet was added, stirred for several minutes and then allowed to sit for another 30 minutes or until the curd gave a clean break.

Curds showing a clean break.

The curds were cut into cubes using a clean, sharp knife.

Cutting the curds

The curds were then heated until the temperature reached 102 degrees, maintaining the temperature the curds were stirred gently for thirty minutes.

Stirring the curds

At this point the whey was drained off to the level of the curds and additional cold water was added. To have a nice moist cheese the temperature had to be kept below 80 degrees. This temperature was maintained for 15 minutes at which point the curds were poured into a colander and allowed to drain.

Drained curds

Once drained, the curds were broken into smaller pieces, salt was added and the curds were placed into a cheesecloth-lined mold.

Curds placed in the mold

The cheese was first pressed at 20 pounds for 20 minutes.

First pressing

Then 30 pounds for 20 minutes,

Cheese after the first pressing

40 pounds for 1 hour

Pressing the cheese

and finally 50 pounds for 12 hours. Between each pressing the cheese was removed from the mold, the cheesecloth was peeled away and then re-wrapped. With each pressing you could see that the cheese was getting more compact. After the final press the cheese was removed from the mold, the cheesecloth was peeled away and it was allowed to air dry at room temperature for several days.

Almost finished

Once the cheese was dry to the touch it was waxed.

Cheese before waxing.

I now have a beautiful round of cheese aging for 2-3 months. From the 2 gallons of milk I got 2 pounds of cheese. Now to be patient for the next few months before I can actually try it.

Colby Cheese, waxed and ready to age.

Next on my list is to make Parmesan.

*Recipe from Home Cheese Making

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I received my first cheesemaking kit for Christmas from my family and I haven't stop making cheese since I opened it! I am lucky enough that our local store sales cream line milk and the mozzarella we are making is fabulous and doesn't last long enough to cool down! I just finished my first Colby and can not wait to eat it! Thank you for posting both the recipe from Jim and this article from Nancy, together they helped me survive my first adventure into hard cheese!