I always feel a great deal of excitement when embarking on a new project, especially when the outcome from my experiment is bound to be delicious. It’s two weeks into our cheddar ageing process and, although a few more cheddars are definitely on the cards, I’ve decided to experiment a bit with a cheese that can be eaten younger, and is made with a slightly different technique.
This is a washed-curd cheese, not to be confused with a washed rind cheese (of the stinky cheese variety). The washing technique stops the acid production, so this is a milder cheese than cheddar and of course, doesn’t go through the cheddaring process either.
The cheese we’re attempting to make today is a Colby or Jack style of cheese, the recipe again being drawn from Gianaclis Caldwell’s excellent Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. The advantage to this cheese is that it should be ready for eating within a few months. I am expecting a moister (the cheddaring process removes more whey and thus makes a dryer cheese) and milder cheese altogether from my favourite cheddar, but not totally dissimilar.
The process starts the same as any other cheese. Warm the milk. Then, add culture, in this case we used the same mesophilic culture as the cheddar. And then coagulate to the clean break point. You cut your curds and then slowly drain the whey while stirring the curds. An equal amount of cool water is added as the whey that was removed and the curds are essentially washed, stopping the acidification process and making a milder cheese.
I’ve decided to age this cheese for about 2 months, as it is typically eaten quite young, but gains flavour through the ageing process. A further experiment this time round is working with a natural rind. From everything I’ve been reading, they can be quite fiddly to make. Jack cheese often has an oiled rind, and I’ve decided to add crushed rainbow pepper corns for a bit of flavour and to help removing the mould which will inevitably develop!