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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

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 is 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.

cheese making, prudent living, Colby cheese

Curds showing a clean break.

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

Colby  Cheese, cheese making,

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.

cheese making, prudent living, frugal tips

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.

curds, cheese

Drained curds

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

cheese mold, cheese making

Curds placed in the mold

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

pressing curds, making cheese

First pressing

Then 30 pounds for 20 minutes,

hard cheese, Colby cheese

Cheese after the first pressing

40 pounds for 1 hour

cheese press, cheese making

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.

hard cheese, cheese making

Almost finished

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

hard cheese, Colby Cheese

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.

cheese wax, Colby cheese

Colby Cheese, waxed and ready to age.

Next on my list is to make Parmesan.


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