Featured Recipe: Brew-Curds Cheddar Makes:
2 pounds Milk:
Pasteurized whole cow’s milk Start to Finish:
4 to 6 weeks: about 5 hours to make the cheese; 13 hours to press; 1 to 2 days to dry; 4 to 6 weeks to age Ingredients
2 gallons pasteurized whole cow’s milk
1/2 teaspoon Meso II powdered mesophilic starter culture
1/4 teaspoon liquid annatto diluted in 1/4 cup cool nonchlorinated water (optional)
1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool nonchlorinated water
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool nonchlorinated water
One 12-ounce bottle dark ale or stout at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal brand) or cheese salt Instructions 1.
Heat the milk in a nonreactive 10-quart stockpot set in a 98°F water bath over low heat. Bring the milk to 88°F over 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. 2.
Sprinkle the starter over the milk and let it rehydrate for 5 minutes. Mix well using a whisk in an up-and-down motion. Cover and maintain 88°F, letting the milk ripen for 45 minutes. Add the annatto, if using, and gently whisk in for 1 minute. Add the calcium chloride and gently whisk in for 1 minute, and then incorporate the rennet in the same way. Cover and let sit, maintaining 88°F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the curds give a clean break. 3.
Still maintaining 88°F, cut the curds into 1/2-inch pieces and let sit for 5 minutes. Over low heat, slowly bring the curds to 102°F over 40 minutes. Stir continuously to keep the curds from matting together; they will release whey, firm up slightly, and shrink to the size of peanuts. 4.
Once the curds are at 102°F, turn off the heat, maintain the temperature, and let the curds rest undisturbed for 30 minutes; they will sink to the bottom. 5.
Place a strainer over a bowl or bucket large enough to capture the whey. Line it with damp butter muslin and ladle the curds into it. Let drain for 10 minutes, or until the whey stops dripping. Reserve one-third of the whey and return it to the pot. 6.
Return the whey in the pot to 102°F. Place the curds in a colander, set the colander over the pot, and cover. Carefully maintaining the 102°F temperature of the whey, wait 10 minutes for the curds to melt into a slab. Flip the slab of curds, and repeat every 15 minutes for 1 hour. The curds should maintain a 95°F to 100°F temperature from the heated whey below and continue to expel whey into the pot. After 1 hour, the curds will look shiny and white, like poached chicken. 7.
Transfer the warm slab of curds to a cutting board and cut into 2 by 1/2-inch strips, like French fries. Place the warm strips in a bowl and cover completely with the brew. Soak for 45 minutes. Drain and discard the brew. Sprinkle the salt over the curds and gently toss to mix. 8.
Line an 8-inch tomme mold with damp cheesecloth. Pack the drained curds into the mold, cover with the cloth tails, set the follower on top, and press at 8 pounds for 1 hour. Remove the cheese from the mold, unwrap, flip, and redress, then press at 10 pounds for 12 hours. 9.
Remove the cheese from the mold and cloth and pat dry. Air-dry on a cheese mat at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or until the surface is dry to the touch. 10.
Wax the cheese (see page 28) and ripen at 50°F to 55°F and 85 percent humidity for 4 to 6 weeks, flipping the cheese daily for even ripening.
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