Sunday, November 19, 2006

Birthday Party!

Cheshire cheese is usually dyed yellow with annatto. For some reason I thought it would be a lot more "authentic" to grind the seeds myself (instead of buying ground annatto, for just a few pennies more).

Here is about 20 seeds and a teaspoon of water that I tried to grind to release their orange-red, resin coating.

It started for form a paste, but it tasted bitter. So I decided to thin it out with some water.

In the mean time, I started bringing all the milk up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

(It took every pot in the house)

Here is the rennet & strained annatto water.
(Rennet is the enzymes from the 4th stomach of an animal that has not started consuming solid food. There are vegetable rennets and synthetic rennets available, but I am using liquid veal rennet.)

So the milk never quite reached 100 degrees, but it was pretty close. It was poured back into the original 5-gallon bucket (after being sterilized) and the rennet and annatto water was added.
45 minutes later, its time to cut the curd.

The curd is a lot softer than I expected. It should be holding its square/rectangular shape, and the whey should be less milky, a lot clearer with a tinge of grey or green. So I let it rest for 10 minutes to see if they curds would set up.

They did not set up. So began the straining processes. Employing some extra cheese cloth and a colander, slowly but surely the curds separated from the whey.

Then came the salting.

And flipping the curds to disperse the salt.

Then I lined the cheese mold with cheese cloth and started loading in the curd. They didn't all fit in at first, but after a bit of pressure, they all made it in.

The cheese mold, loaded into the cheese press, stayed in my laundry basket lined with towels to catch the whey. Every hour I added weight to the arm (the white wire on the right side of the photo) to increase pressure.

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