June 2, 2008


Last week my friend Dana came over to join in the cheese-making festivities. I've been wanting to make Manchego for awhile, and I was excited to have some help in the kitchen for this somewhat more involved cheese.

Manchego is from Spain, originally made with sheep's milk--but for our purposes, we opted for cow's milk. I believe Manchego is now often made in Mexico with cow's milk as well. It can be aged for anywhere from 5 days (Manchego Fresco) to 12 months (Manchego Aciete), developing a stronger flavor as it ages.

The biggest difference in the process is that we had to stir the curds very slowly for 30 minutes with a wire wisk, cutting them up into small rice-sized bits. After a few minutes the curds seemed to be staying the same size, but we kept stirring anyway...

We then cooked the curds, slowly bringing the temperature up from 80 degrees (they had cooled off a bit from the 86 degrees at which we curdles the milk) to 104 degrees, no more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes. That took about 45 minutes... All the while stirring slowly to keep the curds from sticking together.

We then pressed the curds, flipping the block of curds several times (at 15 minutes and 15 lbs each time), and then again at 30 lbs for 6 hours.

After that, we it soaked the cheese in brine for 6 hours at 55 degrees. The last step was to dry it off and then coat it with olive oil to keep it from drying out while it ages.
I don't think I'll be able to wait the full twelve months... But maybe we'll see how it's doing after a couple of weeks.

2 gal Trader Joe's Organic Whole Milk
1 packet Direct Set Mesophilic Starter
1/4 tsp Direct Set Thermophilic Starter
1/4 tsp Lipase Powder (L3)
1/4 tsp Double-Strength Vegetarian Rennet
4 cups Brine (leftover from Haloumi recipe... Originally 2 lbs cheese salt dissolved in one gallon water and whey blend.)
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to coat


  1. Cool, it's like a peek into Andrew's world of cheese! Turning milk into cheese, it's like magic. Or at least a fun science project. Keep up the good work!

  2. I want somma dat cheese! Come see me in San Francisco and bring Jackie and cheese ... I've got the wine and artisanal French bread. Love, Bird


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