Hard Cheese

by Daisy

The title of this post sounds like I’m telling someone to get over it, and while I do have reason to say words to that effect on a regular basis (she said nyah nyah to me!, she wooked at me!), I did literally make hard cheese for the first time this week.

I chose to make Colby, because I heard it was an easy starter cheese, plus it has a relatively short aging period. That meant I would know sooner rather than later whether or not it was a success.

I followed the step-by-step tutorial here, which was very detailed and hand-holding, with good descriptions and explanations.  I find if I have a better grasp of the reasons why to do something, it makes it easier to do things the right way.

I guess I’ll know in a few weeks.

One of the reasons I wanted to make hard cheese is that I’ve built a Dutch-style cheese press, pictured above.  Hard cheeses need to be pressed at incrementally higher weights over a period of time to remove excess moisture. While you can rig up presses with stuff around the house, it’s pretty cool to have a real press. Then once you have a press, you simply must make cheese with it.

Here it is before waxing:

Then after waxing:

I bought the yellow/clear/white cheese wax because the black and the red just seemed so, colorful.  If you’ve seen my wardrobe, you’ve probably suspected I’m either not into color, or I belong to a pretty depressing cult.  But now that I’ve waxed my first round of cheese, I get the color thing. When you put clear wax over creamy white cheese, it’s hard to tell if you’ve missed any spots. And, if you’re dipping cheese into hot (210 deg. F) wax, it’s nice to know at a glance when you’ve reached the level below the tips of your fingers. I didn’t burn myself this time, but I saw with a frisson of fear just how close I came.  Respect the wax.

And I don’t belong to a cult. Unless you count Ravelry.

I’ll be reporting on the progress of the hard cheese making as it comes time to test it.

If it doesn’t turn out, well . . .

Too bad.



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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Hosto March 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Could you please let us know how you built the cheese press? I took a cheese class last summer and the only thing holding me back from hard cheeses is not having a press! I would love to make one too! Thanks, love all the great stuff you guys do, hope the cheese turns out.

Tomato Lady March 21, 2012 at 12:36 am

Elizabeth Hosto–The one in the pic is my 2.0 version. I’m designing 3.0 right now and it may be a while. In the meantime, there are online plans for cheese presses here and there, and I just saw one in the latest issue of, I think it was Hobby Farm magazine. Thanks! And hope you get your cheese press.

Becky Thompson March 21, 2012 at 4:18 am

I have been looking for the recipe to make this Colby Cheese but don’t see it, could you post the recipe please?


Ivory Soap March 21, 2012 at 5:40 am

It’s straight out of the cheese book. We haven’t done anything to make it “our own”. I bet she’ll put up a thing reviewing the book and giving an example another day? I’ll ask her.

Rosalyn March 21, 2012 at 5:42 am

That is a beautiful cheese press. I’ll aspire to build something similar! Let us know how the Colby tastes when you cut into it. 🙂

Tomato Lady March 21, 2012 at 6:08 am

Becky Thompson– I used this recipe: http://www.cheesemaking.com/Colby.html

Tomato Lady March 21, 2012 at 6:10 am

Rosalyn–Thank you! I will re-post later as soon as it’s ready!

Becky Thompson March 21, 2012 at 7:37 am

Thanks for the recipe but I couldn’t get it to come up.

Tomato Lady March 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

Becky Thompson–Oops, I think I double-linked it. Let’s try this.

junkin neighbor March 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

I just have to say I have the COOLEST neighbor in the world! I hope TGND are enjoying the pop-tarts – I have totally enjoyed the bread you left on the door & the egg one of the chicken-girls left me:} ! YUMMY!
BTW TL – if you are bored today – you can go dig up all the Nandina’s on the right side of my house & transplant them to your yard – if not – they are coming down!
PS – anyone out there in Memphis / G-town want Monkey Grass? I have some that needs a new home – you must dig though. It is in a nice straight line with a 6″ root system!

Tomato Lady March 21, 2012 at 11:10 am

G–Ha! You know that’s not true! If you have any challah left, it makes great French toast! And danke for the Pop Tarts. A rare treat around here! I may come for some nandinas if I find the time. Thanks!

Tricia Rose March 21, 2012 at 11:42 am

I am totally impressed. Your cheese will be amazing!

Beth Wall March 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

wow! too cool!!! I wanna build 1 too!!! can’t wait to hear how your cheese turns out…..ya’ll are awesome!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your site….from a fellow “I have pet chickens too!” fan!!

JavaLady March 24, 2012 at 1:18 am

OOOOOhhh!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the home made Cheese Press. I simply MUST make one of these. Congrats on NOT burning your fingers in the hot wax. Indeed.
… in Chicken News, I now have 6 new and very fast growing baby chickies !! Yipee for me !

Tami March 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I have had some issues with making mozzerella cheese lately. The first ball was perfect. The second ball was horendous globs of curd, and the third faired none better. Sigh. Back to the look again.

Rose March 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

Instead of wax you can seal a cheese in a vacuum sealer bag.

Sarah Carroll April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

That looks like a wonderful press, great job!! “Whey” to go!! Your cheese looks fantastic, please let us know how it comes out. If you’re ever interested in offer a giveaway for cheese making supplies feel free to contact us.

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