Our team recently made a batch of Healey’s Cheddar Cheese and had such fun learning the art of cheesemaking from our award-winning producer that we thought we’d share a summary of the process – and the photos – with you!
1) Add grass-fed, raw milk into milk vat.
2) Starter: Stir in the starter and leave the milk, covered in a warm place, for about an hour so that it can acidify.
3) Rennet: Mix the rennet with cooled water and then stir it in.
4) Setting: The curd is normally ready when it is firm to the touch, gives slightly and does not leave a milk stain on the back of the finger.
5) Cutting the curd: This is where the curd is cut in order to release the liquid whey.
6) Scalding: Sometimes referred to as cooking, this is where the temperature of the curds and whey is raised slowly.
7) Pitching: This is the process of giving the whey a final, circular stir so that it whirls round.
8) Running the whey: The valves are opened to let the whey out.
9) Stacking or cheddaring (texturing): Cut this into loaves and place one on top of the other. After about fifteen minutes place the outer slices of the curd on the inside of the stack, and vice versa.
10) Milling: This is the process of cutting the curd into chip like pieces.
11) Salting: Sprinkle salt onto the milled curds.
12) Moulding: This is the process of lining the cheese mould from the press with previously boiled cheesecloth and adding the curd until the mould is full.
13) Pressing: The mould is put into the press.
14) Drying: Place cheese in a protected area and leave it to dry for a day or two until a rind begins to form.
15) Sealing: Once the rind has formed the cheese can be sealed to prevent it becoming unduly desiccated while it is maturing.
16) Maturing: The last stage is often the all-important one. A cheese, which is tasteless and bland when freshly made, is full of flavour and body after its proper ripening period. For a large mild cheese, ripening should take place for at least three months. A longer period of ripening produces a more mature cheese. Smaller cheeses are usually ready after a month.