Say Cheese!

I knew that I wouldn't be able to brew beer on our sabbatical due to various logistical issues (mostly just bringing all of my brewing equipment out here). I have like 6 cases of homebrew in the basement right now, so fear not, I am not without my homebrews. But, having beer aside, I knew that I needed some fermentation in my life. I imagine most people who start to make beer, wine, cheese, cured meats, or any other kind of fermentation get infected themselves and can't go long without having something growing in their basement. I knew that I had to do something, and what better than cheese! Nearly as delicious as beer, and pretty good together with it too.

Edam in the front, caerphilly on the right and
Monterrey Jack in the back. 
So, the cheese factory has begun to churn out products in the Aber's laboratory kitchen. Soon, you will all be calling me the Cheese-Whiz, since I'll be like a wizard making cheese. Wait a second...never mind that. In any case, I've got a block of caerphilly, edam, and monterrey jack curing away in my cheese cave right now. The edam and monterrey jack should be done in about a month, and the caerphilly in a week or two from now. We're also mostly through my first batch of cottage cheese, which I might just make another of if we're not too sick of it by the time we finish (you find that a pound of cottage cheese goes a long way...).

Cutting the curds is Serious Business.
I'm pretty surprised by how easy it really is to make cheese. I'm always trying to get people to start brewing beer, but it really can be somewhat of a dauting undertaking. Cheese on the other hand, will probably cost you like $20 in equipment and supplies to make your first curds, and the recipes are straightforward enough that you don't really have to read up much on it at first to start. Most of the stuff I've used here, we already had in the kitchen, or I constructed out of junk. Literally, the stainless steel bottom of my cheese press came out of the trash. (Don't worry though, I did scour the thing like no other and put a new brushed finish on it using sandpaper, steel wool, and rippling biceps.) My cheese mold is a $1 plastic pitcher, that I cut apart and drilled holes in, and the rest of the cheese press came off of various parts of broken furniture among other things that we had in our basement.

This is what I love about cheese--it seems so complex and like something that could only be made in a sterile factory, but in reality its something that's been made in the home for the last 9000 odd years up until like 1950. I suppose this describes most food come to think of it... Also, the best part about making cheese is that  you generally get a pound of cheese out of a gallon of whole milk. So, based on the confusingly low price of $2.75/gal here in Colorado, we're going to be eating cheese for $2.75/lb. I can't imagine finding any cheese at the grocery store for less than about $4/lb. And you get the supreme satisfaction of eating some home made cheese.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go make some colby.
Poor little edam, being crushed by 60 lbs. of weights.
My water bath setup. Helps to heat the milk without scorching it and to hold a
constant temperature over long periods. Its just an electric roaster oven I randomly
found out here. 
Monterrey jack coming out of the press. That is one sweet cheese mold, isn't it? 


  1. nice! are you using rennet tablets?

  2. Yea, for everything but the cottage cheese I've been using a mesophilic direct set culture and rennet tablets. I was kind of excited about the cottage cheese because it took only mesophilic culture and 24 hours of ripening time, no rennet. The culture acidified the milk enough to curdle it. Back to the roots!