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That's hard as in hard cheese, not difficult questions about cheese.

I'm thinking it's time to take my cheesemaking to the next level. I wondered if anyone in the group is making hard cheeses and has any advice on:

a) Where to get a press. I've noticed a lot more lower end presses on, for instance, ebay lately (so great that recent demand has upped supply and affordability!), and am wondering if it makes more sense to get a cheapie starter press, or to pay a little more for something where I can control pressure more precisely.

b) Aging cheese in a city apartment with no cheese cave in sight. I know that my fridge is colder than desired aging temperature. Does anyone know if it will just take longer to age in there, or if the process will be halted altogether?

Thanks for any advice and tips you might have!

-Megan

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Replies to This Discussion

I do have that book! There's a lot of info and great recipes, but they're all pretty precise (e.g., apply 15 pounds of pressure for half an hour, turn over, increase pressure to 25 pounds, etc.). Part of me thinks it would be safest to get a pricier press and follow the recipes as closely as I can, but another part of me thinks that people have been making cheese for hundreds of years and that maybe I can wing it?

Of course, I'd feel better winging it if I had a chilly little cave...she's pretty clear about the temperature and humidity needing to be just right for the cheese to age. I looked back at the book, and she says that finding a place where temperature won't exceed 68 degrees is preferable to refrigerating, but that's hard to do in the summer here. I think the best thing for me would be to get a mini fridge and set it at 55 degrees, but I don't really want to run a whole extra appliance...sigh...


Robin Bagley said:
Unfortunately, I have those same "hard" cheese questions! It's why I've hesitated in making them, too. Have you checked into Ricki Carroll's (the Cheese Queen) book? I don' t have a copy yet, but I understand she covers hard cheeses in it. Good luck!
Hi Megan.
I am not at all an expert cheese-maker, but I have been playing with it for almost two years now, so I have some experience to share.
a) I bought the Cheesypress from Schmidling two years ago and I am very happy with it (disclaimer: I am not advertising for the company: it just so happens that that's the product I have).
However, since it is my first and only experience, I don't have any elements to compare it to other presses.
The reason I went with it is that it seemed that it would cost me more time (and therefore money) to try and get the pieces. I had in fact seen instructions to build my own press.

b) I started by using a cold room in our house, then rigged a dorm refrigerator. It was actually not easy, as refrigerators are built to keep a much lower temperature. However, I am able to keep a temperature of 50 F pretty stable. Humidity level is more difficult to obtain. I am contemplating going to the next level, which would be a wine refrigerator. They are actually built to keep a temperature close to that required for aging cheese.

My father grew up in a village in Italy and we had a cave there, which we used to store all sorts of foods. The temperature in the cave was cool but not cold and was pretty stable throughout the year. I have never aged a cheese in the fridge unless directed to do so. In any case, if you have a specific question, you can ask it on Ricki Carroll's site. I did it once and got an answer right away.

I hope this helps.
Simona
I just saw this link posted on another thread:

http://www.cheesemaking.com/includes/modules/jWallace/OnLineNews/Ne...

Simona
hi, peole in NYC, I live in a house (you know, something with its own basement and stuff) and I bet I could negotiate for some space in our storage room under the stairs or the tool room if in exchange you could gift us a bit of cheese...assuming it's organic and preferably raw...? and if it's at least decently good cheese. I know y'all may still be learning, but we'd want a little something something in exchange, you know? I think this would be fun and build community too. BTW, Yonkers is NOT that far from the city, only 30" by MetroNorth. my apologies if this isn't the best place to post this, I'm a little lost on this thing...

Ahhhh, I make aged and hard cheese and the solution for me to the "cave" is a wine fridge!  You can get different sizes (6 bottle fridge for small batches, 2 case for your wine and cheese!) set it at 55 degrees which is good for both coexisting delights (cheese and wine) and I create humidity by placing a damp towel in the fridge.  It has worked great.

 

I made a cheese press.  Boards and long screw things.  I place paint or large soy  milk containers to get the desired pressure.  Primitive, yes.  Cheap, yes.  Works, definitely!

 

BTW, the kitchen fridge does not work!  Don't even try it!

 

M

OK, I'll just throw in another 2c here, I heard there's a way of making a natural refridgerator with two clay vessels and water, one inside the other, and it was used to create natural refrigeration in Africa, so it should be cool enough for the US.  If you want to do something that doesn't require electricity.  You probably need to replace the water frequently though, which is not as eco-friendly in NYC--but if you can then use that water for something like handwashing your clothing or irrigating plants or something that might make it better.  The cool-ness doesn't come from the water itself but from the convection currents or soemething.

 

Also, ants build their hills (big, 3-foot high) in such a way that the convention currents cool them too--scientists don't know how they work, someone told me, but I saw the thing itself, and it's amazing they were able to build something 3 feet high and only about 9 inches in diameter, so I can easily believe that it also was self-cooling.  

 

The other answer could be geo-cooling--the earth is always 55 degrees, summer or winter, so if you can conduct heat down from your cheese into the earth somehow then you have it.  Plug into the grounding prong of your socket?  (would that conduct enough heat?)  Not really a complete answer, but I'd love if anyone has any insights to keep the converation going.

 

And the offer of a basement in Yonkers is still good!    you all mkae my mouth water!

You'll need to get another refrigerator, perhaps a mini one. Then get a thermostat that control your little refrigerator's temperature by bypassing the one that's built into it. You can get one here: http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/93-Refrigerator-Thermostat.html. This is at http://www.cheesemaking.com where you can get a wealth of information and how-to's about making the various kinds of cheeses from soft to hard. I have the author's book 'Home Cheesemaking' by Ricki Carroll and it is great. I don't have any vested interest in this site, I just get my supplies from them and they are incredibly helpful. Good resource..

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