Any amateur home cheese maker will tell you that the most delicate part of the whole cheese making process is the pressing of the curd into a solid even block of cheese. This is why a good cheese press is essential if you want to have good looking cheese, and edible at that. Read more
When you first start home cheese making, it is easy to end up spending a lot of money on all the equipment you feel like you have to have to make great cheese. There are cultures and Rennet to buy, stockpots and thermometers, pH meters and curd knifes, cheese cloth and molds and a press for hard cheeses.
If you’ve ever pressed a cheese and ended up with curd that has failed to knit together, you’ll know how disappointing this dilemma is. I certainly do!
The point of pressing your cheese is to not only expel the whey but it is also how the small curds are knitted together to form the smooth shape, texture and density of the cheese.
When the curds don’t knit properly you will get a range of results from creases, cracks and crevices throughout the cheese, or a complete catastrophe of curd that doesn’t form any kind of shape or mass and just falls apart.
So what causes a lack of knit with cheese curds? Read more
This post is Part 6 of the continued basic home cheese making instructions. See the Curd Nerd Beginner Page or the Basic Instructions category for previous parts.
Pressing your cheese is not only an important part of shaping the cheese but is also important in creating the texture and as part of the aging process.
What Cheese Needs Pressing
Soft cheeses need either no pressing, are pressed under their own weight or have minimal light weight applied to form the cheese.
Hard cheese on the other hand must be pressed and after your cheese has been through each of the steps to get to the point of having curds ready to turn into cheese, you need to apply enough weight in a way that will knit the curds, expel any extra whey and create the shape of your final product.
So you’ve spent hours carefully making your cheese and now is the time to unwrap it and unveil it in all it’s glory.
But you find when you start to peel the cheese cloth away, the curd has stuck to it and no matter how cautiously you try to pull it away, the curd sticks and breaks away from the cheese mass. The cloths a mess, the cheese now has chunks out of it and you wonder what went wrong?
When I first started making hard cheeses I fashioned a cheese press out of all sorts of items. Filled stock pots of water, cans of food, rocks, anything that would give me enough weight to press the curds in the mold.
Eventually I got frustrated with the balancing acts (and the anxiety caused everytime said balancing acts didn’t work) and went looking for a proper press to upgrade my cheese making process.
I bought a press made by a local engineering student whose father is a cheesemaker.
The press works well but I found the mold that comes built into it is too wide in diameter, resulting in a larger flat cheese rather than a short stout one. The problem with larger flat cheeses is you end up with a lot more rind than paste as the drying area is bigger. Read more