[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

When I offer people cheese, they often ask, "What kind is it?" Depending on my mood, I will answer, "cheese." Or sometimes, "cote-du-matin-en-haut." Or perhaps some other equally useless reply. The problem is that I'm not try to make some specific kind of cheese, or even a particular style of cheese (except when I make feta style). So I'm not even trying to be annoying, difficult though that may be to believe.

I know that what the querent probably wants to know is "what sort of cheese is it similar to?" But even that is not as simple as it might sound. Texturally it might resemble one thing, while the flavor profile might resemble another. Furthermore, since it is made in an artisanal way, the comparison might be to another artisanal cheese, which isn't really helpful in many cases.

All of which leads me to this. The answer, in excruciating detail and with far too many pictures, to the question:

What Kind of Cheese Is It?

It is this kind of cheese ...
Thu, roughly 8:30 A.M. Visit the market and buy some dairy. Stick it in the fridge at work. (Alright, I confess, this picture is after I brought it home from work, and also includes this week's farm share veggies.)
Thu, roughly 3:45 P.M. Pour the dairy into a bowl. I rinsed the bowl out first, but that's it. I had intended to use 2 quarts of milk, but my dairy pusher comped me some half-and-half, so in goes a pint of that. 1/2 cup of last week's whey is added and stirred well, but not crazily - a minute perhaps. Into the same measuring cup goes 1/4 cup (ish) of bottled spring water and 1/4 tsp of double-strength rennet. That gets mixed up, then added to the dairy and mixed again for another minute.
The whole thing then gets put on top of the fridge where the cat won't get at it and left overnight.
Fri, roughly 6:45 A.M. Give the now set curd a little jiggle. If this was just milk, it would have settled to the bottom with the whey above it and some of the whey could simply be poured off. However, this is not the case with the added half-and-half. Cut the curd. I use the same knife from week to week, and it doesn't see much other use.
Line a colander with cheesecloth or other straining cloth, this is just plain muslin, I think. Oh, and since the whey is slightly acid, don't use an aluminum colander.
Pour in the curds.
Put it where the cat can't get it; in this case, inside the microwave.
Fri, roughly 3:45 P.M. A lot of whey has already drained off, and now the curd looks like this.
Lift up the ends and hang it. If I've got to hang it for a long time, or if I'm not around, I'll cat proof the hanging process, like this (scroll down). Otherwise, just over the sink.
Fri, roughly 6:00 P.M. Now a whole lot of whey has drained off.
Time to move it to the press. Mine is a spring-loaded model called a cheesypress (mine is actually the Seesypress). The great advantage of these presses is their small footprint, important when living in an apartment.
This batch is going to be salted before pressing, so two teaspoons of salt are added to the curd and gently mixed in.
The curds are moved to a piece of cheesecloth, here a finer piece than before.
Then into the press! I crank it down, but not too hard at this point. For the next hour and a half or so, every time I walk by the press, I'll give it another half crank or so. This is because of the one drawback to the spring-loaded press - it's spring-loaded. This means that as liquid is pressed out, the spring expands and the pressure drops. This is a fairly minor drawback, and the advantages far outweigh it for me (at least at the moment.)
Fri, roughly 7:30 P.M. Time to flip the cheese. Already it's starting to hold its shape.
Back into the press, this time with more pressure, although not yet the most. Again, as I walk past, I'll tweak the pressure to try to keep it more-or-less constant. I'll also drain off the last bits of whey which accumulate in the plate. I don't save this whey, just the first run pictured above.
Fri, roughly 9:30 P.M. One more flip. It's really coming together now. Then back into the press and hit with the pretty much the maximum pressure I can put. I will not be adjusting this pressure very much, since it's bedtime. The next morning, about 7:30 A.M., I gave it another good crank.
Sat, roughly 8:30 A.M. Out of the press it comes, into a bowl and into the fridge, where it will stay until I can get it to the again box.
Mon, roughly 7:15 A.M. Into the aging box it goes, with the other cheeses, where it will remain for a month or so. Then we'll eat it.

© 2011 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite