September 19, 2008

Cheddar Texturing

I've been really happy with the flavor of the Stirred-Curd cheddars so far... but the texture hasn't been quite right. It's been a bit crumbly and dry. Doing a little more research, it seems that the solution might be to use a little more rennet. (The vegetarian rennet I have says on the bottle it's "double-strength," so I had been using half what the recipe calls for...).

On Sunday I had some friends over and we made a batch of Stirred-Curd Cheddar, but used 3/4 tsp. of rennet instead of the previous 1/2 tsp. What a difference! The curds set significantly faster (about 45 minutes), and were ready for cutting after only 45 minutes. After that, everything seemed about the same--until taking the cheese out of the press. The curds knit together much more smoothly, as the outside of the cheese was much smoother and, well, "cheddar-like"... and the feel of the entire wheel of cheese is a little more rubbery* and feels like it has a bit more moisture to it.

I waxed the cheese this morning, and I'll report back in two months...

2 gal. Trader Joe's Organic Whole Milk.
1/4 tsp. Mesophilic Starter
7 drops Cheese Coloring, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. Vegetarian Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2 tbs. Flake Cheese Salt

* in a good way.

1 comment:

  1. Cheddar Update:

    The cheese coloring did absolutely nothing. Not sure if it's a bad batch (though it looks plenty colorful in the bottle!), or if they lost a digit in the recipe (perhaps 40 drops instead of 4?).

    Yesterday I joined my family for an afternoon BBQ -- and brought the last wedge of this cheddar. In December it was tasty, but definitely felt a bit "young." Having rested three more months (it's now six months old), it definitely became a bit more flavorful... nevertheless, my mom described it as "mild." Dang.

    The texture still isn't like store-bought cheddar. It's a bit more crumbly, though at this point it's definitely stays together enough when sliced.

    My initial thought of adding more rennet may also be the wrong solution. The experts at New England Cheesemaking Supply suggested that I had too much acid... Next time I'll shorten the ripening time a few minutes (between the Starter and Rennet).


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