spring cheese making

With the arrival last night of our four bought-in baby Jersey bulls, the spring cheese making season is officially over.  Something in the neighborhood of 225 pounds of cheese are aging in the cheese cave (sic), put down since early April, and for at least a month (until the next cow is due to calve) or even maybe four months (when the baby bulls may be weaned) our cheese making will decrease from thirty or forty pounds a week to the occasional mozzarella; but our cheese-eating will ascend to the heights of about ten delicious pounds per week (family of thirteen, presently).

Like most seasons, we love it when it’s here, and love when it’s over.IMG_2693[1]

10 thoughts on “spring cheese making

    1. Hi, Eric,
      These are a washed-curd, gouda-type cheese, just milk, backslopped whey (meso/thermo), rennet and salt; we call them ‘paysano’, a simple peasant cheese, perfect for farm production. Aged two months (or something less) they are delicious, and they just get better after that. Pax!

  1. And what size cheese do you normally make? In other words, what are the rough finished diameter and height? And how many gallons of milk goes into each cheese? Thanks!

    1. I think that ring is 20″ wide; with 16 gallons or so of milk, the finished product will be 4 – 5″ thick, and something under 15 pounds. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but I don’t have a scale that weighs so much –mine just goes to nine pounds, and is not so accurate even to that —

      1. Thank you! Those dimensions are more than specific enough for what I wanted to know. Does this mean you have a 16+ gallon pot? Do you put it on your stove top? A detailed recipe for your “paysano” cheese isn’t on your blog somewhere, is it?

        My largest pot is 8 gallons, and I rarely have more than 4 gallons of surplus milk per day. Would you recommend I buy a larger pot and use 3-4 days (6-8 milkings) worth of milk? Or should I just use a smaller diameter mold (while keeping the thickness of the finished cheese the same)?

  2. So. Piece by piece! Um, my biggest cheese pot is a 20 gallon stainless steel stock pot. Full, it’s ‘way too big to lift, and I’m afraid it might crease my stove top, plus when it’s on the stove it’s too high for me to reach into; so, I set it on a chair in the kitchen and work with it there. Washed-curd cheeses are warmed by the addition of hot water, so I never have to use direct heat.

    Eight gallons should make a respectable cheese, something over 6 pounds. One thing to remember when you save milk over several days is that sometimes the older milk can give cheese a bitter taste — nothing terrible, but less than perfect. I usually use the morning’s milk, warm and whole, with the night before’s milk, skimmed; with Jersey milk that seems to give me about the creaminess I want in a paysano. I wouldn’t hesitate, though, to use milk that was 24 – 36 hours out of the cow, if that got me to my desired volume/weight.

    I like a nice, compact cheese (2/3 as tall as it is in diameter), so when I make cheeses in the 8 – 12 lb range I often use a smaller ring than the one used for the cheeses in this picture — actually, that one is just a food-grade bucket, 2 gallon size, I think, with holes drilled in the sides a la David Asher. If you make a cheese taller in proportion to its diameter than that, you might want to wrap it (bandage it) so when it’s settling it doesn’t get a lot of vertical cracks on the outside which can cause drying issues and a mold-management nightmare.

  3. Thank you very much for this, and sorry not to have said so sooner!

    I noticed your list of classes but I couldn’t find any way to sign up for them and find more information about them beyond the list. My wife and children and I keep 2-3 cows, normally milking 1-2 at any given time, and 2-4 goats that we milk seasonally from late summer til mid-winter, and as far as cheese we’ve been making mozzarella+ricotta and a basic soft goat’s milk cheese for years now, similar to your style with home-cultured cultures and rennet from our own calves or kids’ stomachs, but we haven’t made the step to hard cheeses yet. We’re probably the better part of a day’s drive away from you, but thinking that learning from someone in person and in a hands-on way might be the thing to get us over the hump and started making our own hard cheeses.

    I assume you can access the e-mail address I enter with my comment? If you want to send me an e-mail, I’d be interested in communicating with you directly.

    Thank you again!

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