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How to Make Caerphilly Cheese

Time to make our first hard cheese, Caerphilly, a hard, white cheese that originates in the area around the town of Caerphilly in Wales. It’s a great first hard cheese that only requires 3 weeks of aging. Most other hard cheese need at least 3 months to years of aging. A long time to wait to taste your first hard cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons milk
  • 4 oz. mesophilic starter culture (or 1 packet starter powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet, mixed with 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cheese salt
  • cheese wax

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Bring the milk to 90F and add the mesophilic culture. Let it sit for 30 minutes to ripen. (I find a water bath works well for cooking hard cheese milk. Just put your big pot of milk into a bigger pot. Fill the bigger pot with just enough water so the little pot starts to float. This also helps maintain a steady temperature for longer periods.)

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Add the rennet to the milk and stir for 1 minute with an up and down motion to evenly distribute. Now let it sit at 90F for 45 minutes. It should have congealed into a thick, white curd. To test if it’s done, stick your finger into it at an angle and pull up – it should break cleanly around your finger. If it still is “creamy” or if the clear liquid looks really milky, make sure your temperature is 90F and wait another 5 minutes.

Now we need to cut the curd. Take a long knife. Cut the curd in the pot into a bunch of 1/2 inch thick slices. Now turn the pot a quarter turn and cut into more 1/2 thick slices. Now turn the knife at a 45 degree angle and cut along the first lines you did. Then turn the other way. Don’t worry if you don’t get it just right. The goal is to produce relatively same size pieces of curds. Preferably they would all be 1/2 inch cubes of curds, but no one gets it that perfect without some specialized equipment.

Warm the pot of curds to 92F and keep it there for 45 minutes, stirring frequently and gently to prevent the curds from matting too much. The curd pieces will become smaller and firmer as the whey (the clear liquid) is drawn out of them. Now let the curds rest 5 minutes before, pouring them in a strainer, making sure to keep all the whey. (to make ricotta, use as a liquid substitute in baking, etc.)

Put the clump of curds onto a cutting board.

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Cut into inch thick slices. Drain the slices for 5 minutes then turn them over. Repeat twice.

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Break up the slices into quarter size pieces. Mix salt thoroughly through the curds. Put the curds into a cheese cloth lined cheese mold and press down firmly so that the curds are evenly distributed. Put one layer of the cheese cloth over the top of the curd.

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Now put the follower into the mold and press at 1 pound (a pint jar of water) for ten minutes. Then remove the curd (which is now officially cheese!) To do this without messing up the cheese, which is soft and easily will break apart: I remove the follower, take the top layer of cheese cloth off, put a cutting bard on top of the mold and flip the press over so that the cheese falls out of the press onto the cutting board. Now I can take the cloth all the way off. Put the follower on top of the cheese, flip the board and follower over so that the cheese is resting on the follower on my hand. Drape the cloth over the cheese, carefully put the mold down over the cheese. Flip it over, put the one layer of cloth over the cheese and put the follower in. Note that that using this method doesn’t let my hand touch the cheese and it stays intact throughout the process.

Repeat this flip-flopping twice more. The last time leave the weight on for 16 hours.

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Now remove the cheese and place on a drying rack. I recommend a bamboo mat (like whatyou might use to wrap sushi) as this metal one tends to get gunked up with the draining whey. Air dry, turning over every day, until the cheese is surface dry. If you have any mold, wipe it off with a rag dipped in vinegar.

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Now, when the cheese is dry, wax it. Melt the cheese wax in a double boiler (place the wax in an old pot that will only be used for wax from here on, and place it in a put of water, which is heated on the burner.)

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Spread the wax evenly with a bristle brush. (Don’t use nylon, which will melt into the wax.) It takes two layers of wax to completely cover the cheese.

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The second time, write the name of the cheese and the date on a small slip of paper and wax it onto the surface.

Put the cheese into the refrigerator on some wax paper and flip it daily.

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After three weeks you may cut into the cheese.  (You can age it up to 12 weeks. It becomes more flavorful with age.) You may reuse the wax by remelting it and filtering it through a piece of cheese cloth back into the wax pot.

Enjoy!

2 comments to How to Make Caerphilly Cheese

  • marian

    thanks for your recipe. looking forward to trying it out this weekend, however, I need clarity on one point.

    ..cut into inch thick slices. Drain, turning twice every 5 minutes.
    what do you mean by this turning twice every 5 minutes.. how many times do you mean ? Look forward to your reply.. thanks.

    • Sorry. That wording is a bit confusing isn’t it? It should read: Drain the slices for 5 minutes then turn then over. Repeat twice. So, altogether they should sit on the draining board for 15 minutes before breaking them up in the next step. Have fun!

      Ps. We’re finding that for some cheeses they taste saltier if you break into them early on into the ripening process. So a cheese that can be aged 2 to 12 months will taste much saltier if you eat it at 2 months.

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