Finally back at it! My friends Stephen and Sarah came over this afternoon to help out with a batch of Gouda. It was only 3 1/2 hours from starting to pressing at the full 50 lbs. ... so much faster and easier than cheddar*!
Tomorrow morning I'll brine the cheese** for 12 hours, and then move it to the fridge to dry for a couple of days... then a few layers of wax, followed by a lot of patience.
Check back in four or five months to see how it turned out... okay, maybe just three months!
* Although the ingredients are similar to Cheddar or other hard cheeses, the process is more like Colby, in that it's a "washed-curd" cheese. Part of the process is to pour off some of the whey and then replace it with hot water (175F) slowly increasing the temperature a couple of degrees (it doesn't take much). The curds are stirred, allowed to rest, and then washed a second time. There's no "cheddaring" process ("cooking" the curds at a higher temperature--just over 100F), and--blessedly--no interminable stirring and stirring and stirring like some of the other cheeses...
** Instead of directly salting the curds, the salt is added after pressing--like Haloumi--by soaking the wheel of cheese in a saturated saltwater solution. The salt is simply absorbed while it's soaking, and will eventually make its way throughout the cheese during aging.