Having successfully made – or at least processed – cheddar cheese, I decided to try making gouda, which differs from cheddar by being a washed curd cheese. I’d take advantage of the heat wave which had rendered my kitchen almost unusable to maintain the incubation temperatures the cheese required.
I started by heating the milk to 90°F in a sink full of water at 100°F. I added a packet of mesophilic starter, mixed, and let the milk ripen in the covered pot for ten minutes. I mixed in a half teaspoon of liquid rennet (diluted in a quarter cup of unchlorinated water), covered the pot, and let it sit at 90°F for an hour.
I cut the curd into half-inch cubes and let them set for ten minutes.
Here’s where the process diverges from the cheddar method. I poured off a third of the whey and slowly stirred in 175°F water until the temperature of the curd reached 92°F. I let the curd settle for ten minutes, then drained off the whey again, to the level of the curd.
I stirred in more 175°F water, until the temperature of the curd reached 100°F. I kept the curd at that temperature for fifteen minutes, stirring to prevent matting. After stirring I let the curds set for thirty minutes.
I poured off (and saved) the remaining whey, transferred the curds to a cheesecloth-lined mold, and pressed at twenty pounds of pressure for twenty minutes. I unwrapped the cheese, inverted and re-dressed it, then applied forty pounds of pressure to twenty minutes.
Because the curds hadn’t been milled (mixed with salt), they didn’t release as much water, resulting in a slightly taller cheese.
After a final re-dressing, I applied fifty pounds of pressure and let the cheese sit overnight.
After sixteen hours I unmolded the cheese.
I soaked it in a saturated brine (two pounds of sodium chloride, one tablespoon calcium chloride, one gallon of water) for twelve hours. The cheese floats, so I weighed it down with an inverted plate.
I removed the cheese from the brine, patted it dry, and air-dried it at 50°F for three weeks in my cheese fridge. (You can see the cheddar on the lower shelf.)
After three weeks it had hardened and yellowed (seen at the top of this post), so I waxed and labeled it.
Not including the three weeks of air drying, I intend to age this cheese for at least four months, which means I’ll have gouda for the winter holidays.
In the meantime…
The suspense was killing me. The cheddar I made looked right, but how would it age? Today, after nine weeks of aging, I cut it open and had a taste.
It looked right, it had the correct density and crumbly texture, and it tasted like cheddar cheese. It was mild, but superior to the rubbery supermarket stuff. There was a bit more acidity than I expected, probably due to the short aging period. Still, it was a success.
I think I’ll wind up making at least one cheddar a month. If I start now, I’ll have tasty aged cheese come next spring. If I can wait that long.